YEA's mission is to serve young adults in breaking the cycle of generational poverty in Denver communities by gaining personal and economic stability through education, arts and technology and employment training.
Since 2007, the Youth Employment Academy (YEA) has served over 3,200 youth, developed and implemented programming that brings job readiness training as well as specific occupational skill development to youth ages 14-21. Working in low-income, public housing communities, YEA is committed to building and strengthening the local economies while training our participants with real skills that lead to higher education, real jobs and ultimately self-sufficiency.
Beginning with industry academies in culinary and healthcare, YEA expanded its industry focus to customer service and advanced manufacturing in 2010. In 2012, YEA became a 501(c)3, and in 2013 opened its social enterprise, the Osage Café where youth train in the culinary arts in an operating restaurant. YEA acquired Arts Street in 2016 and its award winning programming in arts and technology to further enhance and expand its offerings to youth.
When I was 17, I was kicked out of my high school for poor attendance and bad grades. I had also been getting in trouble with the law and some of my friends had gone to jail. My last chance to graduate was at this alternative school called Colorado High School Charter in the La Alma neighborhood. Arts Street was also in the neighborhood and I heard about the classes through school. I was never interested in art and had issues with attending school and honestly wasn't that interested at first. However, after taking film classes through Arts Street, I started to want to come to school and had ideas for what I wanted to do for a career. I became an intern at Arts Street and worked on several independent and team projects. Because of this program, I was inspired to stay in school and work towards a career in videography. I graduated from high school and also completed college classes in video at Emily Griffith Technical College. I plan to continue with college and hope to have a career in sports video. - Kori M., Age 18
YEA's Osage Café has been a very positive learning experience for me. It has given me the opportunity to work on both the hot side and cold side of preparing and cooking food. It has allowed me to see the differences in making a salad versus making a burger. It has increased the speed and ability of cooking with different proteins as well as working with different cold dishes. This has shown to be beneficial at my other job as well, where I now get to work the cold line. I have learned the different food safety temperatures and I now use it on a daily basis. It has taught me different training techniques and how to work with other employees that might not be at the same level of patience and stability that they have given me, I hope I can nourish all of this experience and that one day I will be able to be a professional chef and eventually, own my own restaurant. - Hussein M., age 18
I moved here from Eritrea in 2013 with my mother and brother. Every day in Eritrea I lived in fear. Fear of getting shot out of nowhere. Fear of getting kidnapped and sold. Fear of coming back to my own home and not seeing my family once more. In 2016 I found Arts Street. Through Arts Street I was able to learn the value of hard work and achieve success. Pushed to my limits, I gained confidence enabling me to interact with people easier and face the world. Through Arts Street I also discovered a passion for helping others and was inspired to join clubs such as Habitat for Humanity, Key Club and Bridging Generation at my school and nominated by Arts Street, I received the Denver Mayor's Youth Award in 2017. I graduated in May of 2018 and am attending Colorado State University to earn my degree in biomedical engineering. Experiencing such horror while living in Africa, I decided to take advantage of the opportunities I have and make a difference. - Yokabed O., Age 18