At the MinKwon Center, we see the potential in youth as leaders of today and tomorrow. YEP provides Asian American high school youth the opportunity to learn new skills through education, action, personal development, and team-building.
One main component of the Youth Empowerment Program is to provide youth the knowledge, skills and tools to become effective community advocates. During the program session, participants undergo an educational curriculum that provides an in-depth view of social justice issues with appropriate historical context and political analysis. In addition, trainings and workshops are provided to build leadership, communication and teamwork skills. Lastly, participants also have the opportunity to learn more about their community through visits to other non-profit organizations and participation in local community events.
YEP provides youth the opportunity to put their newfound knowledge and skills into action to promote progressive social change. Each program session, participants engage in activities that promote civic participation within the local Asian American community in Flushing, Queens. Activities include new voter registration and phone-banking voters ahead of primary and general elections to inform them of the candidates and to remind them to vote. In addition, participants 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.
- Leading Humans of Flushing, an arts and story collecting initiative to change the narratives around immigration that inform harmful policy
- 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.
The Youth Empowerment Program is open to all youth currently attending high school in New York. There are three program sessions each year: two during the school year and one during the summer.
School Term Session (30 weeks)
The fall session begins in conjunction with the school year in September. Students also have the opportunity to join for the Spring session beginning in late January. Meetings are held once a week on a weekday and time decided by the general consensus at orientation. These weekly sessions are usually two hours long.
Summer Session (7 weeks)
The summer session begins early July and ends in late August. Meeting three times a week, these sessions are usually two hours long. At the end of each program session, participants receive a certificate of recognition stating the number of community service and volunteer hours.