Empowered Youth was founded in 2006 as a mentoring program inside the Miami-Dade Detention Center. We became a nonprofit in 2008 and since then have worked hard to provide support, resources and opportunities to inner-city young men from every ‘hot spot’ neighborhood in Miami.
In 2008, we moved our program out of the Miami-Dade Detention Center and launched the Empowered Youth Neighborhood Diversion Program in Liberty City. Our goal was to provide a safe and neutral place for young men born into violence and poverty to heal and redirect their lives.
Young men who had been involved in the system were most often court-referred to Empowered Youth, where we provided wrap-around services that included mentoring, a life skills/character development curriculum, and community partners who provided the spectrum of mental health and addiction services.
In working with our inner-city young men, it became clear that there were two drivers of juvenile crime: poverty and single-parent homes. We worked to provide support and guidance through our Empowered Youth Neighborhood program; and in 2010 launched our Culinary Career Track so that we could provide training and job opportunities to our students to address the overwhelming issue of poverty. Our goal was to teach our students how to fish.
Our Culinary Program flourished—with a stunning success rate in the 90 percentile.