The Youth Futures Initiative (YFI) is the newest wrap around case management and youth advocacy program of the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). Through a federal grant operated by the Vera Institute of Justice, the YFI program will work to improve the long-term education and labor market prospects of youth with current or former involvement in the juvenile justice system, and help them transition more successfully into adulthood through the provision of intensive case management and mentoring services utilizing seven core components. Each youth participant will be matched with a Youth Advocate who will help develop an individualized service plan that draws on the seven components and is tailored to each youth's needs and interests. The core components of the YFI program are:
• Case Management: The first phase of the YFI program is 6 months of intensive case management, where youth will receive the ongoing supportive services provided by YEP Youth Advocates. Youth Advocates will be responsible for ensuring that youth are working toward accomplishing their personal, employment and educational goals, as defined by their individualized service plans. Youth Advocates will also provide youth with an array of essential services that include, but are not limited to assistance with basic needs, transportation, mentoring activities and crisis intervention.
• Workforce Development: Youth engaged in YFI will receive intense job readiness training that will allow participants to develop transferable skills, earn industry-recognized credentials, and receive assistance locating and securing internship and/or employment opportunities.
• Education: YFI will work with youth on "in-school" and "out-of-school" tracks. For youth who are engaged in the traditional k-12 system, the focus will be on supporting them in as many ways as possible to be successful in school, attain a high school diploma, and make the successful transition to post-secondary education. For youth who are out of school, the focus will be on connecting them back into the traditional k-12 system, or connecting them with adult education and GED/HiSET services, primarily though YEP's NOPLAY and Village programs. These programs provide high school equivalency and basic literacy instruction to out-of-school youth and young adults between the ages of 16-24 from Greater New Orleans.
• Mentoring: Twice a month, youth engaged in YFI (under the supervision of YEP staff) will benefit from participating in field trips and mentorship activities that are coordinated by the Young Leadership Council (YLC) and focus on career readiness and exploration.
• Restorative Justice: YFI youth will participate in regular service learning opportunities and receive training in restorative justice practices.
• Post Program Follow Up: After successfully completing the first 6 months of YFI programing, youth will move onto the next phase of the YFI programing which consists of 9 months of "post program follow up." During this phase, youth will continue to receive case management services from their Youth Advocate that reinforces the progress they made during their first 6 months of programmatic engagement.
• Efforts to Reduce Community Wide Violence: Throughout the duration of YFI, YEP staff will work collaboratively with community partners and local leaders to identify the best ways to reduce youth violence in New Orleans.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
• Youth must be at least 14 years old and:
• Must have an address in the specified neighborhoods (Contact YFI staff for more information on eligible neighborhoods)
• May not have any adult convictions
• Must be currently or in the past 12 months involved in the juvenile justice system
• Must be out of traditional school, or have identified needs/ issues in a traditional K-12 school
• Have no major untreated mental health or substance abuse issues, or currently stable in treatment
WHO WILL BENEFIT THE MOST?
• Youth who may need career exploration.
• Youth who may need hard and soft skills training, to be ready for employment.
• Youth who are motivated to find employment.
• Youth who may need some extra support in school.
• Youth who may need assistance in finding and enrolling into K-12 school or Adult Education services.
• Youth who may be open to and able to benefit from supportive and caring mentoring relationships.
For more information on the YFI program, please call: (504) 522-1316 Ext. 286
*Youth Futures is fully-funded by a $680,000 Department of Labor federal grant administered by the Vera Institute of Justice.