Redirect at-risk, court directed youth academically and vocation

Combining the expertise of teachers and volunteer mentors from the business community and the University of Miami Law school, the first six months of the Empowered Youth (EY) Program are dedicated to teaching life skills and building character as a dropout prevention and academic performance improvement for students at-risk of failing, quitting school, ending up in prison or dead in the streets.

During the second six months the youth attend business classes at the University of Miami School of Business to learn how to complete a business plan and to inspire them to grow to see themselves as entrepreneurs. To develop business experience, students are paid a stipend as they work in one of the EY businesses: an urban apparel line called EY Street Wear and a restaurant /food truck incubator program called Vibe 305. The EY program serves 70 youth a year at an average cost of $2,456 per youth. Of the 200 students who have completed the program, 87% have not re-entered the juvenile justice system and are considered entrepreneurs or hold meaningful jobs. The goal is to increase the number of at-risk youth in the program to 100 per year and still maintain the same excellent results.

The Empowered Youth Program is offered to at-risk, not adjudicated, youth from Liberty City and Miami Gardens who are referred to the program by the juvenile courts. We are requesting funding to help continue the progress EY has made as they continue to seek funding for expansion.

Who are you?

Mary Louise Cole, Ph.D., I am working to continue this successful program redirecting youth who would otherwise be lost in the streets of Miami Gardens and Liberty City. With more than 30 years experience working with at-risk youth, I'm here to help.

How does this project impact the issue you selected?

EY 's goal is to improve each youth's academics in order to prepare him for subsequent academic efforts and/or a job. The goal for the 13-20 yr. old students is to have the basic reading and math skills to be successful in school and in jobs. Success in school and job trading build confidence in their ability to succeed in their future. Paid internships, job-training,job placement add to their hopes for a crime-free future. U.M. law student tutors are the role models missing from their lives.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address?

The Empowered Youth project addresses Grade school proficiency, H.S. graduation rates, college readiness, college enrollment, job readiness and employment data points from the 2014 report. The law school tutors work with the students' schools to raise their grades and build the students' confidence in their ability to read and do math. They also become he role models for why attaining a college education is important to youth from families where few have graduated high school.

Please give examples of your project's success.

The law students' tutoring is very effective even though many of the youth have no interest in school and only want to make money. They actually improve the reading and math proficiency of 75% of the youth. Fifty-six of the 70 students graduate from H.S.,90% of whom are prepared for college. Almost all, 90%, enroll in college while the others are delayed because they need to work to accumulate money first.
The students are in paid internships most often leading to employment.

Organization Name (or individuals name) Empowered Youth


4 votes
Idea No. 69