If you’ve ever met a Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Advocate, you’ll understand the key to the organization’s effectiveness as a provider of community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and out-of-home placements. With programs in 29 states and the District of Columbia, this year, YAP celebrates 45 years of keeping young people out of institutions with home-based youth and family services delivered by specially trained staff Advocates.
Nine years ago, Jesse A. Cruz joined YAP as an Advocate. A U.S. Army Iraq war veteran and now Program Coordinator for Wayne County, NY YAP, he is one of the staff who represents the organization as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Community Alliance.
YAP Advocates provide intensive mentorship focused on empowering youth to identify their strengths and connect them to accessible resources to help them in their personal, educational and career pursuits. At the same time, the Advocates connect youths’ parents/guardians with tools to firm their family foundation.
A husband and father, Jesse is also a motivational speaker and author of Live Your Dash – Discovering the 8 Fs to Freedom, which he talks about in our interview in the video above.