Written by Gabrielle Harrison
Recently, I sat down with Kaniesha Thomas, program coordinator for the Youth Employment Program (YEP), to talk about the program and how it has grown. YEP is open to all Philadelphia based youth between the ages of 16-24 that possess a high school diploma or GED. The program assists youth in making a successful transition to post-secondary education, advanced training and/or employment. Thomas started with YEP as a Social Work graduate intern nine years ago. After that she transitioned to a program assistant, then a Career Coach and now the Program Coordinator.
She explains, “I love working with the youth because they are honest and real. They are at the young adulthood stage where it is so much for them to learn about the world and themselves. I love that I’m able to help them shape that perspective. I love that the encouragement, support, and knowledge that I give them can be something that they carry for the rest of their lives. I’ve been with the program for almost ten years, and I still keep in contact with most of the youth that have been in the program over that time frame. The students in the program know that if they ever need any type of educational, employment or personal support or advice the YEP team is there for them.” With such dedicated and passionate staff like Kaniesha Thomas it is no wonder how/why YEP has continued to expand and improve. YEP not only serves as a backbone for its students but provides opportunities to see outside of Philadelphia and opportunities to explore career interests, create short and long-term employment/ education goals and provides support to ensure the transition is successful.
“I love that the encouragement, support, and knowledge that I give them can be something that they carry for the rest of their lives”– Kaniesha Thomas
Thomas explained that YEP took their youth on a cultural awareness trip to the African American Museum in Washington, DC, in March of this year. They will also be having a college tour to the Morgan State University, a Historically Black University (HBCU), in April. Her goal is “to expose the youth to as much as we possibly can in the time frame that they are in the program.” You can visit www.cspcd.temple.edu/youth-employment-project for different volunteer opportunities with YEP or any other social policy and community development projects. YEP also has a Facebook link if you want to keep up with what is new https://www.facebook.com/yep.cspcd/videos.