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Empowered Youth


What we do

Empowered Youth:  Youth transformation through opportunity.

Who is Empowered Youth and what do we do? 

Empowered Youth is a not-for-profit organization dedicated
to enhancing the lives of inner-city, at-risk young men between the ages of 12 and 19, most of whom have been referred to us through the Department of Juvenile Justice.

There is simply no substitute for opportunity.  Most juvenile crime is money related, so the goal of Empowered Youth is to give our inner-city young men a real chance at a better life.  Let’s give these young men hope for a better future, a future that includes dignity and access to opportunity.  The more inner-city young men our program can train and employ, the fewer will end-up in prison and lose their lives to inner-city violence.


We empower at-risk youth to create positive lives and lasting transformation to better themselves and their communities. We accomplish this by providing on-going support, life-skills programming, social entrepreneurship training and job opportunities.


Transformation is possible in every inner-city young man. We work to impact and inspire every student, so they will be motivated to change.  Empowered Youth  provides the support, resources and opportunity that our students/graduates need to permanently redirect their lives.

The first phase of the program,

Empowered Youth Neighborhood, helps the boys to find their gifts, skills, talents and abilities.  The second phase of the program, Empowered Youth Entrepreneurs, allows EYN graduates to use those same gifts, skills, talents and abilities to earn money legally and learn entrepreneurial skills.  As leaders and entrepreneurs, they can go back into their communities and create real, lasting change.

Phase 1:  Empowered Youth Neighborhood offers the DJJ-approved Botvin Life Skills curriculum; mentors; tutors; accompanies the boys to court /school; refer youth to community partners for individual, family and drug counseling; and essentially does everything possible to provide our students with the support, resources and opportunity they need to become successful.

Phase 2:  Empowered Youth Entrepreneurs, is the Job Development phase of the Empowered Youth Program that offers both job and academic training for our students and graduates.  The students/graduates themselves create business models they they themselves develop and run.  The business models are developed to match the diverse skills/interests of our EYN students/graduates.  Each of these business models are started/run by the graduates of the Empowered Youth Neighborhood Program under the careful guidance, direction and mentoring of a Business Advisory

Board comprised of local business leaders and an extensive partnership with The University of Miami School of Business Communications.  The University of Miami created a course on entrepreneurship specifically for the students/graduates of Empowered Youth called the YES Program (Young Entrepreneur Series).  Students receive Certificates of Completion for each of the training sessions they take.   We also work with other community partners to provide our students and graduates with as much sophisticated entrepreneurial training as possible.  The more training and jobs we can create, the fewer young men will go to prison or die a premature death on the streets.

Our current business models include an urban apparel line called EY StreetWear; a café/food truck franchise incubator program called VIBE 305.  The food truck program was launched in December of 2013, and the café is slated to launch in the summer of 2014. These opportunities are  transforming our students and graduates into first-class businessmen.  In July, four Independent Partners from EY StreetWear competed against 16 teams of youth from FIVE countries to land FIRST PLACE in the regional Ultimate Life Entrepreneurship Camp Business Plan Competition in Miami!  Our EYN/EYE programs have received wonderful recognition both nationally and internationally, and will be included in an up-coming

U.S. State Department documentary about progressive programs in the U.S. who are working to alleviate youth violence.  We were also one of only five (5) non-profits showcased at the upcoming Classy Collaborative in San Diego last September.  We are very proud of the growth and development of the young men in our program…from the street to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Frequency of contact:  The Empowered Youth Neighborhood Program meets three times a week for current students; while graduates of the program become eligible to join the Empowered Youth Entrepreneurs Job Development Program; which also meets a minimum of three times a week for entrepreneurial/job training as well as actual work.  That does not include the weekly contact that students/graduates have with their program and business mentors.


According to an article published in December of 2010 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Florida over-utilizes residential placements for children. Thousands of children committed to DJJ simply do not belong in custody: 71% are non-violent offenders, and more than 1,100 have never committed a felony. Not only are too many children committed to DJJ, but they stay in residential facilities far too long.

The DJJ’s over reliance on incarceration has compromised public safety and hurt Florida’s finances. Community-based approaches to juvenile delinquency are more effective, more efficient, and ready to be expanded. By shifting resources from expensive residential facilities to more efficient and effective community-based sanctions, the state can enhance public safety, save money, and achieve better results for Florida’s youth.

  • According to the Tampa Bay Times, it costs $280 per day to house a youth in a minimum 21-day detention center:  21 days x $280 = $5,880 per youth for a 3-week minimum stay in detention.
  • Eckerd Re-Entry cites a cost of $300 per day for a minimum 6-month stay in a residential program:   $300 per day x 180 days = $54,000.
  • The State of Florida DOJ tells us that, in Florida, it costs $18,980 to house an inmate (or youth direct-filed to the adult system) for one year. On Feb 1 of 2010, there were 100,866 inmates in prison and 392 on death row (the average inmate is on death row for over 10 years.)  This factors-out to $1,921,876,840 or nearly two billion dollars annually. In addition, Florida’s recidivism rate for adult/youth direct-filed to the adult system is 32.8%. One out of every three inmates released from a Florida prison facility will return to a Florida prison facility within three years. This rate doesn’t even take into account recidivist prisoners who are admitted into a county jail, out-of-state prison or federal prison.
  • Between our Empowered Youth Neighborhood and Empowered Youth Entrepreneurs Programs, we serve 70 moderate-  to high- risk youth a year at an average cost of $2,455.69 per youth.  That cost includes feeding the youth for each program, transporting them, mentoring them, training them as entrepreneurs and small business owners, and diverting them from the Juvenile/Criminal Justice systems.

Empowered Youth programs transform ‘at-risk’ youth into young entrepreneurs, who can then go back into their inner-city communities to create real social and economic change.   Our business model is the definition of social entrepreneurism, as through our program and business models, we empower youth, their families, and their communities. The minimum exposure to our program is 6 months (for the court-ordered Empowered Youth Neighborhood Program); the maximum exposure is indefinite, as many students come back as mentors to new students and also remain involved in Empowered Youth Entrepreneurs as Independent Partners.

6 -Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. 2010. Exhibit D-3B-2: Priority Listing for Possible Reduction for Request Year (10/14/2010).