The Youth Empowerment Project serves 1,000 at-risk New Orleans youth between the ages of 7-24 annually through our ten distinct programs that run out of eight community sites. Across all of YEP's programs, 95 percent of youth served are African American. Ninety-nine percent of participants in our Afterschool and Summer Camp programs qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch, and 90 percent live in the Central City area of New Orleans, which is one of the most violent, poverty stricken and under-served areas in the nation.
According to an external evaluation of youth engaged in our Community Based Mentoring program, 75 percent of youth had already been exposed to extensive violence and/or witnessed a shooting. Further, exactly half of the youth in the CBM program have an immediate male family member (father or brother) incarcerated and 25 percent of CBM program youth has had either their father or a brother murdered.
According to a recent point-in-time external survey of students in our GED program, New Orleans Providing Literacy to All Youth (NOPLAY), 73 percent of students were unemployed and more than 50 percent of students had been, or currently were involved in the criminal justice system. Further, the average NOPLAY student enters the program reading at a sixth grade level. Finally, according to a 2012 evaluation of our NOPLAY program, almost half (41 percent) of students surveyed said they were "stressed out" most of the time and 40 percent said they were often depressed.
Nearly 100 percent of YEP’s youth live beneath the poverty line.