"This was the best experience I received in my almost 3 years of high school, can't express enough the growth I feel I received from learning things I never thought I would." Erica, age 16, YEA Participant
Since 2007, the Youth Employment Academy (YEA) has served over 5,000 youth in reaching their education, employment and personal goals. We have developed and implemented programming that brings job readiness training as well as specific occupational skill development to underserved youth ages 14-24 while also providing wrap around services such as mental wellness resources. 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, better jobs and building equity in our most marginalized communities.
YEA began as program of the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) providing industry academies in culinary, healthcare, customer service and more. In 2012, YEA became a stand-alone 501(c)3 non-profit while continuing its strong partnership with DHA. In 2013 YEA opened its first 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. In 2021 YEA opened another social enterprise, Decatur Fresh Market, an international market operating in the Sun Valley neighborhood bringing healthy foods to the area and training youth in customer service. YEA remains flexible in creating new programming and listening to the needs of our youth participants so that we can provide the most opportunities in the most impactful way.
In 2022, YEA served 282 young adults ages 13-24 with 90% self reporting as BIPOC and 97% reporting as low-income. We had 227 youth complete industry academies in culinary, customer service and the creative industries with 93% showing an increase in industry skills and 98% staying in high school or graduating 3 months after completion. We placed 31 youth in paid internships. and had 128 unique youth complete mental wellness workshop in our mentorship program with 92% saying they had learned a new skill to cope with challenges. 100% of the youth in our mentorship & internship program stayed in high school or graduated.