The Neighborhood Advocate

YAP Scholarship Helps Systems-Involved Youth and Families Pursue Higher Education and Job Training

Former Clark County, Nev. YAP program participant Aaliyah with Program Coordinator John Kirtley. Aaliyah received a laptop through the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education.

Las Vegas, Nev. – Aaliyah’s matriculation at the College of Southern Nevada will be a little easier financially because of Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP™) Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education.

YAP is a national nonprofit that partners with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, education, and other systems in 35 states and Washington D.C. to deliver evidence-based community rehabilitative services as an alternative to youth incarceration and residential care/treatment. YAP also uses its unique wraparound services approach to help cities curb community violence.

A former YAP Clark County, Nevada program participant, Aaliyah received a new laptop through the Endowment Fund before starting her freshman year.

“Receiving a laptop really helped my family because my mom didn’t have to spend money on one,” Aaliyah said. “This took the stress off her back, and it was something we didn’t have to worry about buying.”

Named after YAP’s founder, the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund is mostly funded by employee donations. The scholarship provides recipients with $1,200 for college tuition, job training/supplies fees, or a laptop computer. Current and former YAP participants and their parents or guardians can reapply for the unique scholarship fund every year while pursuing their education or career training.

YAP Clark County Program Coordinator John “Kirt” Kirtley served as Aaliyah’s Advocate. Hired from the neighborhoods they serve,  YAP Advocates work closely with program participants, their parents, guardians and other family members to connect them with individualized economic, educational and emotional tools to help them put their lives on a positive course.

“My career coach and Mr. Kirt added so much support to me and my family,” she said. “It’s truly appreciated.”   


Initially wanting to be a flight attendant, Aaliyah changed her mind and now plans to study psychology to become a psychologist so she can help young people before they reach the youth justice system.

“Being a psychologist has been my recent aspiration because I’ve been so interested in mental health,” she said. “I feel like mental health plays a big role in who we become and why we do it stems from what we went through as children. Even when I didn’t know specifically what I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to help people since I know how it feels to struggle. I can do so much with it and I know I will make a difference in someone’s life one day.”

In addition to attending her first year of college, Aaliyah is now working full time in the nonprofit field. She’s appreciative to Kirtley for motivating her and thankful to YAP for helping to open doors to more opportunities for her.

“I personally worked and coached Aaliyah to believe that she could attend college and told her about the renewable yearly scholarship through YAP’s Endowment Fund,” Kirtley said. “Now she attends junior college and is doing amazing as well.”

For more information on YAP visit or visit the agency on X at @YAPInc.

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