Youth Empowerment Project

Our Young People

Photo courtesy: Dear World

In America today, national and local economic factors are informing many of the choices and opportunities that young people face. The realities are particularly daunting for those who are most vulnerable, where it can take an incredible amount of hard work and luck to achieve long-term success – whether by earning a degree, making a living, nurturing a family, or contributing to community. Instead, variables like personal safety, housing, or food security often require urgent, daily attention. Obstacles can feel so relentless and insurmountable that it is simply impossible to imagine a different way of life – a safe and secure path forward.

We see this in our work with New Orleans youth, who are operating with an unparalleled resilience in the face of extreme poverty, trauma and violence. Below is a quick snapshot:

39% of children living in poverty 39 percent of children in New Orleans are living in poverty – a full 17 percentage points higher than the U.S. average, and higher than in many comparable U.S. cities. One in three children in New Orleans is growing up in poverty. [Source: The Data Center]
Income gap growing Despite New Orleans’ economic resurgence, many workers are stuck in low-wage jobs. The income gap has widened since Katrina, with New Orleans ranking second in income inequality among 300 U.S. cities. [Source: The Data Center]
39% of adults read at or below the 5th grade level Nationally 14-percent of adults read at or below a 5th grade level. The Lindy Boggs Center for Community Literacy says this compares to 39 percent of New Orleans-area residents reading at or below 5th grade level. [Sources: The Data Center, The Lindy Boggs Center for Community Literacy]
6,000 + Opportunity Youth in New Orleans In the U.S., 6.7 million young people aged 16-24 are considered Opportunity Youth, and are not attending school or working. This includes more than 6,800 Opportunity Youth in the New Orleans area – a sizeable population that could be expected to fill projected job growth. [Sources: Corporation for National & Community Service, Cowen Institute]
20% of youth show post-traumatic stress Nearly 20-precent of New Orleans youth show signs of post-traumatic stress – four times more than the national average. [Source: The Times-Picayune]
YEP’s 13 years of operation YEP’s team has served more than 5,000 young people in New Orleans, including more than 1,200 in 2016 alone.

This is the importance of YEP’s work. As we look ahead, we will do all we can to better meet the needs of our youth – by growing and strengthening our existing programs, expanding long-term intensive mentoring, investing in our own infrastructure and sustainability, and raising awareness for this important work locally and nationally.