Youth Empowerment Project

Who We Are

YEP envisions a community where all people have access to the opportunities, skills, resources and relationships they need to actualize their potential.

We engage underserved young people through community-based education, mentoring, employment readiness and enrichment programs to help them develop skills and strengthen ties to family and community.

YEP’s core purpose is to empower young people to improve their lives and the lives of others.

Our Core Values


Our History

Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) is a community-based non-profit organization that was founded in 2004 by Melissa Sawyer, Rebecca Kendig and Angela Conyers Johnese, who worked together at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana’s (JJPL) Post-Disposition Project (PDP).

YEP was founded as the first juvenile reentry program for formerly incarcerated children in the state of Louisiana. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the organization grew significantly, expanding its mission exponentially to meet the growing needs of vulnerable youth in the region. During YEP’s first year of operation, YEP served 25 youth, and had an annual budget of $235,000.

Now, YEP is the largest, most comprehensive organization in the Greater New Orleans Area addressing the needs of vulnerable youth. YEP’s current programming includes an array of community-based education, mentoring, employment readiness and enrichment offerings. Today, YEP operates 10 programs across 6 sites, and manages an annual budget of $4.5 million.