East Liberty nonprofit Youth Enrichment Services Named 2019 Champion in Action
“Trib Total Media recognizes the power of the mentorship provided to young people in the Pittsburgh region by Youth Enrichment Services.”
— Jennifer Bertetto, Trib Total Media President and CEO
By Courier Editor, March 4, 2019
The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that Youth Enrichment Services (YES), a nonprofit providing socially and economically at-risk youth the opportunity to achieve success through participation in mentorship, education and enrichment programs, has been named a 2019 Champion in Action in the category of Youth Leadership. The award, announced jointly by Citizens Bank, WPXI-TV, Trib Total Media and Pittsburgh Cares, includes $35,000 in unrestricted funding as well as promotional and volunteer support for the organization’s outstanding work, according to a release.
Youth Enrichment Services (YES) provides empowerment, experiential opportunities, academic enrichment and summer employment as positive pathways to future success. YES partners with local organizations to create synergy and generates transformative stories, national accolades and positive research outcomes.
(Click the arrows on each to view our photos)
Our mission at YES is to continue to grow and expand opportunities to invest in as many Pittsburgh youth and families as possible. Each year YES participates in a variety of events for students, parents and/or guardians, and YES staff. Below is a photo showcase of some of these activities.
Walking for Health: Highmark Walk
On May 11, 2019, YES board members, students and staff joined together in Highmark’s Annual Walk for a Healthy Community. YES completed their first year as a community agency in the walk and achieved their fundraising goal of $2500. All proceeds support YES’ mission of providing youth with opportunities to achieve success through participation in mentoring, education, and employment programming. It was amazing to have stakeholders represented at every level and to work collectively to redefine health and make Pittsburgh a more equitable and healthier city in which to live. YES plans to make its participation in this event a tradition, given the success experienced and the need for community health champions.
Making the Decision: Final College Tour
YES supported students in narrowing their post-secondary choices by visiting colleges throughout the region this April. Not only did students tour schools like NYU, Xavier, Temple, Franklin and Marshall, and Seton Hall University, but they also connected with students and mentors who could serve as campus support for them along their journeys. In addition to college visiting, students engaged in cultural outings in Harlem and experienced a soul-food filled dinner at Sylvia’s, a rich community staple. Students left the tour feeling empowered about tackling college and with made up minds about where they envision themselves matriculating.
YES Remakes Learning
YES hosted their first ever Remake Learning Day during which YES college students facilitated a conversation on the topic “YES: Community Matters.” Through this presentation, youth engaged participants in understanding the process of community-based research and shared helpful strategies to employ when engaging in community-based research. Youth also provided insight into their own research projects which provided practical evidence for the process. The event ended with questions and answers and having students reflect on the ways in which CBPR has helped them beyond their YES involvement and in their collegiate spaces.
YES Impact Pittsburgh
Catalyzed by its recent Champions in Action Award, WPXI invited representatives from YES onto their Impact Pittsburgh Television Show set to air next week. In doing so, YES’ Program Director and Teen Mentor Willie Knight reflected on the trajectory of YES, discussed the role of mentorship, and envisioned YES’ future. It was special to stand alongside Host Jonas Chancey and share YES’ current initiatives, but also to acknowledge the historical context that has laid the foundation for YES’ continued community impact.
Back at it again: YES PPS School Exchange Efforts Continue
YES students continued their cross-community school exchange partnership with South Fayette High School. Students convened again in February to further their discussions on educational inequities and hopes for resource reallocation. This time, South Fayette Board Members, Superintendent, and district officials joined students and engaged in rich and vibrant dialogue about reimaging both school environments. In addition to YES cohort, new members of Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) also partook in this experience to help push forward the current efforts. In the coming month, South Fayette students will shadow PPS students for a day to gain more contextual understandings, to raise more awareness, and to cogitate solutions.
YES Students Honored at History in the Making
To commemorate Black History Month, Westinghouse High School held a “History in the Making” Celebration to honor current change agents in the Pittsburgh community and to highlight student achievements. Students played an active role in the ceremony by reading stories of those deemed as local legends. According to the them, students acknowledged recipients as “History in the Making” and commended them for their activist spirits and commitment to excellence. In addition to this, several YES students were recognized for their academic achievements and honor roll status and also dubbed as Westinghouse’s “History in the Making.”
YES Supports Former YES Student in Launch of Project
Youth from YES’ Voices to Men gathered at Duquesne University to support former YES participant Raheem Perry in his recent senior documentary screening. These youth viewed his piece for the first time and engaged in conversation regarding its content. Raheem, a creative and skilled digital media artist, has represented all that YES hopes for students to embody once they complete the program!
FeWi - Galentine’s Day
On February 13th, members of the Female Empowerment Wellness Initiative (FeWi) came together to celebrate Galentine’s Day -- a day where women honor and celebrate one another. FeWi participants engaged in conversation regarding self love and healthy relationships. They discussed the challenges of navigating friendships and personal relationships with themselves. To conclude the night, students created Galentines that expressed their creativity and ultimately their appreciation for each other.
Painting with Sisters
Students’ from YES’ FeWi celebrated the Holiday Season together by painting at Paint Monkey. Together, each girl selected a design they loved and re-envisioned it to their liking, making masterpieces of their very own. Painting with their sisters gave the girls an opportunity to bond and advance their growing sisterhood.
YES’ Female Empowerment and Wellness Initiative Learn to Redefine Beauty
Twelve students from YES’ Female Empowerment and Wellness Initiative (FEWI) attended the Women and Health Enviroment's International Beauty Showcase. There, YES students learned about redefining beauty and the importance of investing in their own health and wellbeing. YES’ very own Anesa Reed introduced the guest speaker, Madame Chang, renowned beauty and health expert, and shared some of her own research on the toxicity of black hair care. This new knowledge on beauty helped our students continue the process of loving themselves and of employing healthy practices.
YES Juniors and Seniors Attend College Tour
Juniors and seniors toured both Maryland and Virginia colleges over the course of three days in November. During this experience, students explored George Mason and the University of Maryland. The students investigated each school’s programs to determine fitness. Visits also included sitting in on academic classes and meeting with Admissions Counselors and current college students. This experience gave students the opportunity to picture themselves in such environments and begin to understand college life.
YES Students Implement a School Exchange Program at South Fayette High School
YES students designed and implemented a cross-community school exchange program with South Fayette High School as part of their Teen Café work. What started out as merely an idea (and honestly a late-night conversation) manifested into a fruitful experience where YES students immersed themselves in South Fayette’s school culture, attended classes, connected with like-minded peers, and engaged in critical discussion regarding educational equity, resource allocation, and race relations. To conclude the day, students cogitated tangible solutions to continue building cross-community relationships and to improve their schools. They left engendering a spirit of awareness and advocacy.
YES Students Explore D.C.
YES juniors and seniors traveled to our nation’s capital to visit local universities and to explore the cultural and political landscapes. Students attended college classes and a sporting event at Howard University, met with faculty and admissions representatives, and toured campus. In addition, they visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, participated in spoken word poetry at Busboys and Poets, and strolled through the historic Capitol Hill and the National Mall. Students' 3-day excursion ended with a view of the White House and a meal from the infamous Ohhs and Ahhs!
YES Students Honored for Academic Achievements
Westinghouse YES students were honored for their quarterly academic achievements and honor roll status and recognized before parents, peers, and local community stakeholders. YES is proud of their academic pursuits.
Students engaged in a day of cooking and ornament decorating, games, and peer fellowship to celebrate the holiday season.