Youth Program Overview
Uplift’s Youth program started when Jordan King, Director of Juvenile Diversion Programs at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, sought out Uplift to collaborate on a program for justice-involved youth based on Uplift’s extraordinarily successful work with formerly incarcerated individuals. Leveraging our past success and drawing on best practices from juvenile justice experts, Uplift developed a 12-week Uplift Youth Program. We incorporated the most effective elements of our adult Workforce Solutions Program, including empathy, communication, trauma, attitude, cognitive distortion, boundaries, self-understanding, self-care, and relationships. The Youth Program has modified versions of the Workforce life skills and job readiness training, with a focus on specific challenges and traumas at-risk youth face. Life skills training teaches the youth how to be successful in academic environments by learning how to: manage stress, balance schoolwork and employment, recognize dangers of and avoid negative influences, set boundaries with friend and family to safeguard time for schoolwork, and strengthen their communities. With these tools, the youth are more prepared to achieve academic success, and pursue successful employment after graduation. The program also takes the youth on a journey of self-exploration and development. Youth participate in activities which challenge them to gain a deep understanding of who they are, what they want, and the decisions and behaviors necessary to achieve their goals. This encourages them to imagine their future employment beyond school and adds the perspective they need to recognize the importance of academic success. The job readiness training focuses on youth-oriented skill-building like finding employment available around school schedules, filling out job applications, dressing appropriately for work, arriving on time, and dealing with conflicts in a mature way. These high-quality learning opportunities foster each youth’s personal development and improve their ability to successfully navigate the risks they face in their individual communities. Lastly, the Youth program strengthens individual communities by helping participants develop and awareness of how they can impact issues affecting their communities. The participants learn about social justice, their rights, and what is happening in the community.