Many youth from low-income families, living in crime-ridden neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest, are subjected to violent behavior by their peers and other community members - including gang violence - and go to poorly funded schools with few opportunities. Many teenagers grow up in single parent households where a mother, father, or grandparent is struggling to put food on the table. These youth often lack hope and a vision of a better future for themselves and their communities.
The Youth Empowerment Program empowers vulnerable youth, ages 14-18, who show leadership potential, to make a difference in their own communities. Through the program's year-long curriculum, the teens develop vital skills in leadership, cive engagement, cirtical thinking, advocacy, and team building. The participating teens learn to identify local issues, research and propose solutions, and present them to local, state, and national public officials.
Solutions proposed to government officials by the teens participating in the Youth Empowerment Program may actually become policies and laws. Marginalized communities can be made safer for children and youth to fulfill their potential and experience life in its fullest. Youth leaders can make a difference in their communities with their advocacy and "voice."