Youth Empowerment Project

Dear YEP Supporters:

With 90 plus degree days, summer has definitely arrived in New Orleans. Luckily for campers enrolled in YEP’s Kids X-Press Summer Camp, part of their summer activities include field trips to refreshing community pools!

June was a busy month with the start of YEP’s Summer Camp, Summer Scholars program, our latest YEP Works 6-week employment readiness program, and two big graduation celebrations for this year’s YEP Educates students.

Looking ahead to late July, a group of YEP participants and staff will be returning to Brazil for part two of a peer-to-peer learning exchange with Rede Cidadã, an organization with a proven track record of implementing successful job readiness approaches across the South American country. Special thanks to the International Youth Foundation (IYF) for making YEP’s return trip to Brazil a reality.

Chefs Donald Link & Stephen Stryjewski host YEP Educates 2018 Graduation Recognition Ceremony 

On June 15, YEP celebrated a total of 45 individuals who recently completed the necessary courses and testing to earn their High School Equivalency (HiSET) diploma. Special thanks to Chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski along with the team at The Link Restaurant Group and the Link Stryjewski Foundation for hosting a delicious brunch for graduates and their families and friends at Calcasieu Private Dining in downtown New Orleans.

Guest speakers included State Representative Royce Duplessis, New Orleans City Councilmembers Kristin Gisleson Palmer,  Cyndi Nguyen and Joe Giarrusso.

The Link Restaurant Group is one of YEP’s externship partners helping to train YEP Works graduates at its award-winning restaurants including Cochon, Cochon Butcher and Calcasieu Private Dining. Chefs Link and Stryjewski have been long-time supporters of YEP’s work in the community through their Link Stryjewski Foundation.

On June 16, YEP Educates graduates also joined more than 100 fellow graduates from across the region to take part in the 11th Annual New Orleans-Regional Adult Education Graduation ceremony hosted by the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans and held at Loyola University.

YEP Executive Director Melissa Sawyer panelist at the Social Innovation Summit 2018 in Silicon Valley

On June 6, YEP’s Co-Founder & Executive Director/CEO Melissa Sawyer spoke about YEP’s critical work at the Social Innovation Summit 2018 in Silicon Valley, CA. Melissa joined Allstate’s Tara Leweling on a panel called ‘The Renewal Project: Empowering The Future‘.

YEP was this year’s recipient of the Allstate Empowerment Award totaling $20,000 which will help fund our mentoring, education, employment readiness and enrichment programs supporting underserved young people.

Allstate and The Renewal Project put together a short video highlighting YEP’s impact in New Orleans. Watch here.

YEP Enriches: Kids X-Press Summer Camp 2018!


A total of 90 children enrolled at the start of this year’s Kids X-Press Summer Camp which averages between 55 and 65 children per day. The free-of-charge 6-week camp is held at YEP’s Youth Center providing educational, recreational and enrichment activities to children ages 7-15. The camp runs June 4 to July 13.

Campers are having a blast this summer thanks to YEP supporters near and far! YEP appreciates you.

YEP in the news…

  • YEP Co-Founder & Executive Director/CEO Melissa Sawyer took part in a Nonprofit Quarterly webinar on June 27 entitled: ‘Strategic Reserves and Endowments: Guidance for Forward-Thinking Funders and Grantees’.
  • YEP Educates Graduation Recognition Ceremony and Brunch was featured on both WWLTV and WGNO news stations on June 15.
  • YEP Board Member Kenneth Polite was interviewed on Eyewitness Morning News on June 14 regarding ways to support underserved youth in New Orleans making mention of YEP’s impactful work in the community.
  • YEP was listed as a community resource: How to Help and Find Help in the Times Picayune’s ‘Children of Central City’ series.
  • Highlights from YEP Fest featuring Pedal for YEP 2018 were profiled in the St. Charles Avenue Magazine – June edition.
For additional information please contact YEP’s Director of Communications, Tania Dall at or call: 504-522-1316 x 210.