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Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) helps high-risk youth get a taste of working life, gain self-confidence and learn new skills through a complete employment readiness programme.

Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) helps high-risk youth get a taste of working life, gain self-confidence and learn new skills through a complete employment readiness programme.

(Programme concluded and no longer supported by the Trafigura Foundation)

Based in New Orleans, the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) is an important community-based organisation in Louisiana, providing support for vulnerable youth through education, training and mentorships. YEP’s partnership with the Trafigura Foundation led to the creation of the Trafigura Work and Learn Center (W&L Center) in 2013, an employment readiness training programme aimed at 16 to 24 year-olds.

The training opportunities on offer focus on boosting young people’s employability through the acquisition of hard and soft skills. Participants can hone their CV-writing and interview skills in job application workshops, and gain work experience in YEP’s small businesses.

Bike works, a bicycles repair shop, is the longest established of the businesses and completed its fifth year of operations in 2018, recording robust sales and providing many free bicycles to YEP youth. Design works, a digital media studio, opened in September 2016 and has worked with some impressive clients such as the National Basketball Association. Thrift works, a retail resale shop, completed its first year of operations in December 2017.

YEP works with business partners to place its beneficiaries in internships and jobs after the completion of the programme. Young people receive an educational stipend while developing their employability skills in YEP’s businesses and benefit from additional support from YEP staff who help them access mental and physical healthcare, education services and housing.

The services provided by W&L Center to New Orleans’ underserved and at-risk youth is invaluable, equipping young people with the resources, skills and opportunities they need to harness their full potential.

After almost a decade of successful collaboration, the Trafigura Foundation is concluding the partnership with YEP in a sustainable way, confident that its new partners will continue support the important benefits that the organisation offers for the local community.

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Read the story of Tyrell, YEP’s programme participant

Tyrell, a beneficiary of the programme, had to grow up quickly. Having become a caregiver to her younger siblings as well as more senior family members at an early age, she was also subjected to frequent home moves, which disrupted her schooling. Now based in New Orleans, where she cares for her great grandmother, Tyrell was offered a lifeline through YEP’s Work & Learn programme. Here she earned her high school equivalency diploma, graduating earlier than she would have at her previous school. While skills training has provided a springboard for Tyrell’s professional development, she highlights the emotional support provided by YEP as being invaluable. “I know it’s not just me here,” she says. “I can ask anybody for help. We all have an understanding, and we’ve built a relationship with each other.” Tyrell is now enrolled at Delgado Community College studying Business and Management, while working as a part-time sales associate at YEP Thrift Works. Crucially, Tyrell is enjoying making her own contribution to the programme that nurtured her by mentoring other young YEP participants.


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