YAP’s Making Social Change Happen Awards Album 1
See additional photo albums below. (Photos courtesy Keystone Productions)
Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Vincent N. Schiraldi and Maryland Department of Human Services Secretary Rafael López joined Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. to honor youth and adults making positive change. Schiraldi and López were among those recognized by YAP at its Washington, D.C.-Maryland region Oct. 13 YAP’s Making Social Change Happen Awards at Baltimore’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum.
The program honored current and former justice-involved youth and adults, and other YAP program participants identified as at the highest risk for engaging in violence and those empowering them with tools to make positive change.
“if you go back to the 90’s they were calling young people super predators and the antidote to dehumanizing young people is humanizing young people and that’s where YAP stands out,” Secretary Schiraldi said. “You’ve always treated young people in your care as human beings and as long as you keep that as your standard you can’t go wrong so thank you for honoring me but I honor you right back.”
A 48-year-old national nonprofit in 35 states and Washington, D.C., YAP partners with youth justice, child welfare, and public safety systems to deliver community-based alternatives to incarceration and placement, and community violence interruption/neighborhood safety services. YAP has experienced considerable growth in recent years as communities have demanded more effective, economical, and equitable systems reforms.
“What is clear to me as I learned more about these award recipients is how relentless they are how relentless each of you are in dedicating your time your talent and your love to lift up our children, youth, families and communities across this country,” Secretary López said. “I’m the son and grandson of migrant farm workers and one of the people I most admire who advocated for social change on behalf of migrant farm workers was the activist and labor leader Cesar Chavez once said, ‘Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read; you cannot humiliate the person who feels pride; you cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.’ I think I’m among people who aren’t afraid.”
YAP CEO and President Gary Ivory welcomed the honorees and guests, including YAP Board of Directors Treasurer Clarence Campbell, Cities United Executive Director Anthony Smith, and other Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C. community leaders.
“I believe you all have decided that Baltimore and D.C. can be better than what it is and we’re going to work hard to make that happen, so I just appreciate you all I love you all and I think these kind of celebrations are what we need more of because the work we do is hard,” Smith said. “I appreciate the folks who do the frontline work who get up every day and put themselves in harm’s way to make sure somebody else can be safe so thank you all and thank you YAP for your leadership.”
Honorees included recipients of the YAP Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education scholarship, funded with YAP employee donations to ease the financial burden of college and workforce training/development for current and former program participants and their parents and guardians. YAP also recognized Baltimore Group Violence Reduction Strategy Deputy Director Terence Nash, Baltimore Group Violence Reduction Strategy Service Partnership Manager Raymond Greene-Joyner, Danise Jones Dorsey, Tonia Johnson, Maryland State Delegate Roxanne Prettyman and other community leaders who empower and support YAP’s program participants. The program included a panel discussion moderated by DJS Director of Special Projects Richard Burton, featuring Diamond and Andre’, two former YAP program participants who credited the program for empowering them with skills to launch their own businesses.
YAP has systems partners across the region, serving Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (community-based alternatives to youth incarceration), City of Baltimore Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GRVS), YAP Safely Home: Community Based Mentor Services for Returning Adult Citizens, and statewide county child welfare departments.
YAP Advocates, Credible Messengers and Life Coaches connect program participants and their families with individualized educational, economic, and emotional tools to address their individualized needs. YAP services are led by participants and their families, and implemented by culturally responsive, neighborhood-based staff.
Service is available 24/7 with crisis management, transportation, and basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, utility bills) assistance. YAP’s guiding principles include partnering with parents, guardians, and other loved ones; focusing on program participants’ strengths; neither rejecting referrals, nor ejecting participants; working as a team; delivering community-based services with unconditional caring; empowering participants with tools to succeed and give back; and delivering programs with YAP model fidelity.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice research found 86% of YAP’s youth justice participants remain arrest free, and six – 12 months after completing the program, 90% of the youth still lived in their communities with less than 5% of participants in secure placement.
Learn more about YAP at YAPInc.org.