Youth Empowerment Program
The Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) develops Asian American and immigrant high school youth to tackle issues of injustice in their communities. Through education, service, and action, youth gain a deeper historical and political understanding of their experiences in America, and they work to impact social change on a local level and in their daily lives.
YEP provides high-school youth the knowledge, analysis and words to become effective community advocates and visionaries of social change. Students undergo education that is youth-led and centered that provides in-depth views of social justice issues with historical context and political analysis -- education that may be missing or ignored in their traditional high school classes. Students build leadership, communication and teamwork skills, and learn more about their community through visits to non-profit organizations and attending local community events and actions.
Service and Action
YEP youth have the opportunity to put their education into service and action by engaging in activities that promote MinKwon’s other three program areas. Youth volunteer and even lead voter registration drives and door-knocking to help APA VOICE and Civic Participation, or volunteer in naturalization clinics hosted by Social Services. Students also work collaboratively to develop organizing campaigns on issues that impact the Asian American community. Recent campaigns that YEP members have participated in include:
- Pushing for Comprehensive Immigration Reform with a pathway to citizenship
- Advocating for passage of the New York State DREAM Act
- Inclusion of affordable housing in real estate developments
- Raising funds for DREAM Scholarship awarded to undocumented college students.
- Taking an active role in Participatory Budgeting, a process in which community members decide how public funds should be spent.
- Producing "This Place Could Be Beautiful," a collective zine around the themes of the YEP program
- Pushing the Governor, State Senators, and Assemblymembers to pass the Greenlight Bill, which would allow all people, regardless of their documentation status, to access driver's licenses.
- Mobilized and testified fought against a harmful neighborhood rezoning that would lead to more displacement in Flushing
- Launched the Flushing Community Fridge, a mutual aid resource for our food insecure neighbors
YEP is open to all students currently attending public high school in New York. There are three YEP sessions each year: two during fall and spring terms of the school year, and one during the summer.
Fall/Spring YEP (30 weeks)
Fall/Spring YEP meets after school once a week for two-hour workshops. Through fun group exercises and activities, youth will learn about their own history, about systems of injustice and oppression, and about social change and how to make it. Youth will then decide and organize for themselves a community-based campaign. Through YEP, youth gain skills in public speaking, teamwork and leadership. By completing YEP, students make new friends, help out their communities, and become eligible to receive volunteer service hour credits, recommendation letters, consideration for the President's Volunteer Service Award.
Summer YEP (7 weeks)
Summer YEP begins early July and ends in late August. Meeting three times a week, these sessions are usually two hours long as youth delve deeper into their histories and into their campaigns. Many students who attend Fall/Spring YEP enroll for Summer YEP to continue building their campaigns, and vice versa.