In 2011, Peola McKinnis joined the Youth Empowerment Project as an intern while working on her bachelors degree in social work at SUNO. She chose YEP because of her interest in children, youth, and families. She worked closely with YEP's Afterschool Program Director assisting youth with their homework and completing service goal plans helping track each individual participants progress. Her responsibilities also included assisting youth with employment opportunities, group sessions along with outreach activities on the weekends.
After graduating from SUNO, Peola continued working at YEP part-time. She then worked for the Algiers Charter School Association as a Paraprofessional Instructor teaching 4th and 5th grade science. In November 2016, Peola was exicted to return to YEP as a full-time Youth Advocate.