Youth Empowerment Project


Age: 18

Primary Program: Community-Based Mentoring

Football has been Julien’s passion and he exhibited a natural talent for the sport from an early age. The 18-year-old’s on-the-field skills, coupled with his academic success and strong personal attributes, are what landed him a full athletic football scholarship to Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA where he is currently enrolled as a freshman. YEP youth advocate Renell Gibbs has been a part of Julien’s life for a decade now, supporting the young man at school and home as well as cheering from the sidelines at football games.

“Renell is like the big brother that I never had. He always had my back and never left me out. If I needed a ride or food or anything, he’s always been there for me. He’s like a real true brother to me,” said Julien.

Julien became connected with YEP Mentors programming at the age of 8 and says his younger self didn’t want to listen to other people and he would get into trouble at school. Julien says YEP helped him stay in New Orleans to finish school instead of joining relatives in Texas and he credits the organization for helping him graduate from high school. For other youth looking to YEP for support, Julien offers this guidance:

“[With YEP] you’ve got good people that will take care of you, even though you’re going through ups and downs. You might have some anger issues, you might be bad in school but YEP has people that will help and care for you,” said Julien.