Skyline High School student’s senior project video:
Educate Youth Mission video:
Jasmon Brown’s senior project video:
Our program began as “Dedicated to Make a Change” in June 2011. At the time Gail Wolkoff was leaving a teaching/administrative position at the Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, MI. She had been looking for academic opportunities for teens living in the City of Ypsilanti but to her amazement she found that the only academic-based after school programs were sports-based or had a large acceptance fee.
She decided to start a program specifically designed for middle school students. They met at the library four weeks during the summer, doing academics four days each week, with one day for community service. They always met for four hours a day. The program was free of charge, transportation was provided, and participants were given basics in academics, soft skills, and positive group interactions. Those students wanted to continue the program during the school year. and this was the beginning of Having Opportunities for Positive Education, (H.O.P.E.) as well as S.A.T. Preparation, Prevent and Prevail: (an Open exchange of ideas about Sex, Empowerment, Drugs, and Prevention for STDs and HIV), and Ethics Bowl.
Educate Youth 501c3 was created in 2017 as an expansion of “Dedicated to Make a Change.” An eight person Board of Directors was created at that time to guide and help grow the program. All of the educational programs continue to be created by youth for their peers. Our mission has remained consistent: to connect youth with the world to promote peace, greater understanding of their place in the world, and a love of learning as well as to interrupt the school to prison pipeline. Our commitment to the youth of Ypsilanti is founded on a belief in the ability of our student to overcome obstacles and achieve a life in line with their best dreams and hopes. The work in this program is intense, personal and trauma informed. Our mission of graduation from High School with a 2-year plan for the future is completed through a combination of mentorship, dialogue, and engagement activities. We are constantly adjusting our curriculum and programs to meet the needs of each teen to improve their academic standing. The national high school graduation rate is 83%, while Michigan’s rate is 80%. The Ypsilanti graduation rate is 64% if a student is of brown or black skin and for male students it drops below 50%.
When graduation rates are low, teens face a greater risk of unemployment, incarceration, and prison recidivism. Educate Youth provides the needed resources for teens and the community to promote positive outcomes.
To be in our programs, students must live in Ypsilanti, be ages 13-17, have a desire to make a positive change in their life, and be enrolled in high school. The teens need to be willing to be fully involved with making a positive change in their academics and new ways to focus. Most of the teens, 70%, come to us through word-of-mouth. The remaining 30% come to Educate Youth through the sheriff’s department, school counselors, or the court system. Teens with limited academic resources are given priority. Due to no fault of their own, these teens’ schools have a large discrepancy in the quality of public education in the county – the inequity between wealthier and poorer cities is apparent. This is often because education is paid for with the amount of money available in a district, which does not necessarily equal the amount of money required to adequately teach students. Because of this, we prioritize the education of students who go to Ypsilanti Community Schools.
Educate Youth provides hot meals, coats, backpack and school and home supplies. We provide on-site educators and social workers who are able to meet students where they are, and we provide a safe place for students to become lifelong learners.
The goal of Educate Youth is to increase the number of Ypsilanti students to receive a diploma and for each graduate to have a post-high school plan.
This transition opens many doors for us as an agency and the youth living in Ypsilanti. We want you to be a part of Educate Youth.
Your financial generosity is not a donation, but an investment into future professionals that will have a positive impact on all communities.