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Youth Enrichment Vocational Program

This is a menu of the topics on this page (click on any): Project summary, name and brief description    Enrichment    project history, and how it is being sustained?    Haitian    partnerships and collaborations involved    primary contacts   .

Project summary, name and brief description

The Youth Enrichment Vocational Program (YEVP) was created in Delray Beach to provide high-risk youth between the ages of 14 to 23, some identified as gang members within the Pine Grove Neighborhood, an alternative to a life of crime. The goal is to direct teens away from criminal activities and to make them productive members of society by teaching job skills and building self-esteem. The project was implemented by creating the eight-week "Eye Opener Academy," which illustrated where YEVP could lead them in life versus where constant criminal activity would lead them. Participants were enrolled in the well-established Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC) located in Hollywood, FL, a place for teens to receive training in basic automotive maintenance skills, GED's and life skills. A collaborative partnership is working to create a pilot program in Delray Beach taking it further to include their families.

project history, and how it is being sustained?

_The YEVP was a product of a neighborhood out of control, held hostage through a Haitian youth gang calling themselves the "Sons of Sterling." While it appeared to be a few kids, it accounted for literally hundreds of cars stolen, violent crimes and the residents downright fear to leave their homes. The homeowners association acknowledged that traditional policing methods were met with resistance due to culture, traditions and language barriers. A study of the area revealed 70 percent of the youth were not expected to finish high school. In response to the fact that this neighborhood was identified as being responsible for a large percentage of the crime occurring in the entire southwest section, a focused, problem-oriented group called the Strategic Task Team (STT) was developed. The team consisted of members of the Homeowners Association, Community Police Officers, Code Enforcement and a Creole speaking Neighborhood Organizer. The Youth Enrichment Program was a product of two of the six goals created for the neighborhood by the STT. The first goal was to create a program to educate high-risk teens about the consequences of a criminal life style and other alternatives available to them. The second goal was to locate alternative programs, customized to meet the needs of these challenged youth.

_YEVP members are attending the well-established YATC program in Hollywood. A sub-committee of the STT created the Delray Beach Youth Enrichment Program concept. They, in partnership with local automobile dealers, gained support to establish a new charter school that would serve a larger number of these youth. The city commission, the community and the Palm Beach County School District support the concept. A Board of Directors was formed and an application for a new charter school submitted to the school district in February 2001 using the expertise of a nonprofit partner.

partnerships and collaborations involved

_The project is being implemented by a collaborative partnership consisting of the Pine Grove Homeowners Association, City of Delray Beach, a conglomeration of local automobile dealers, the school district, Palm Beach County and the assigned community police officers serving as the lead persons. Jeff Industries, a non-profit organization, will manage the new charter school for the YEVP. Pending approval of the Palm Beach County School Board, the new charter school will be eligible for state education dollars that can be used for operating costs including teachers salaries and equipment. Palm Beach County has committed $100,000 toward the project, the Snow Foundation committed $25,000 for operating costs for the first year and the city will be designating funds between $600,000 and $800,000 to assist in the acquisition of property for the permanent project site. A temporary location has been found and will be ready for occupancy by the Fall of 2001. The goal is to have a new permanent site by August 2002.

_Residents of the Pine Grove Homeowners Association are involved in the development of policies and procedures for the school, as well as the participant's selection process. The staff of JM Family Enterprises and the YATC School of Hollywood, FL will provide technical assistance and current student space to the partnership. They are the private foundation responsible for the funding and development of the YATC, which has been operating for the past 17 years with a 94 percent success rate demonstrated by the successful graduation of over 300 of students who are now earning annual salaries averaging $50,000. Our goal is to duplicate this success, and add new vocational training opportunities to reach more at-risk students. _4. Describe the qualitative and quantitative outcomes of this project in the last 3 years and explain how this project has been a success. (300 word maximum)

_The most effective and visible change is the fact that the gang no longer exists. Four of the members have graduated from the YATC Program in Hollywood and are gainfully employed at Delray Toyota Dealership earning an average annual salary of $22,000. Two of the members are studying for their GED, three are currently enrolled in the YATC program, due to graduate June 2001. Thirty-five youth from this neighborhood and other parts of the community are waiting to be enrolled. As expressed by one of the members, "I was going nowhere, had nothing, now I have something to look forward to." Today, 185 households feel safer. Not only are they comfortable leaving their homes, they have taken an active role and invested in improving the aesthetics of the neighborhood. With new leases on life, these graduates will be productive citizens breaking the cycle of crime, violence and poverty. The best successes are the new role models for other youth in the community.

_The number and types of crimes occurring in the southwest area, attributed to the organized gang activities, has been substantially reduced. The police calls for service went from 886 in 1998 to 142 in 2000, representing an 84 percent reduction in the number of criminal offenses occurring since the program began.

Residents have a renewed commitment to work together, understanding what they can accomplish by creating partnerships with local businesses and the municipal government as well as the benefits of being connected to services and programs that are available to them.

primary contacts

Provide name & title, organization, address, telephone, and email address. (This person may be contacted to verify information.)

Officer Johnny Pun, STT member, Community Police.

Fred Glass, STT, Community Service Officer, City of Delray Beach, 100 NW 1st Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444.

Loren Sheffer, Board President/Volunteer, Borton Volvo , 2201 North Federal Highway , Delray Beach, FL 33483.

Jean Lucien, Pine Grove Neighborhood Association ,

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