It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we acknowledge the passing of Derrick Jones, YAP's Baltimore Director. Derrick joined YAP in 2008 and led the program with nothing less than complete commitment, passion and dedication. His kids affectionately called him "2-4-7," because they knew that he was available and accessible to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Through his leadership, YAP has helped hundreds of youth connect in positive ways with their community through employment, mentors and opportunities to participate in activities of interest to them. Youth have avoided detention and further penetration into the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and instead found safe, caring support within their homes and communities.
Derrick's leadership extended beyond his work at YAP: he was an advocate and an artist, recognized by the President's Administration for his #saveadopeboy campaign. He will be deeply missed by his YAP family, and our sympathy and condolences extend to his fiancée and daughter, his extended family and all those who are mourning his loss while celebrating the tremendous impact he affected on their lives and the lives of so many others.
May this quote from Ted Kennedy be both our comfort and our challenge: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
Below is an article from 2012 written about his work:
The leader of YAP's Baltimore program, Director Derrick Jones is passionate about the kids of Baltimore City. Before directing Baltimore YAP, Derrick taught students in Baltimore City Public Schools for 10 years.
A lifelong resident of Baltimore City, Derrick is a homegrown advocate for Baltimore City's most at-risk, marginalized and vulnerable kids. He's seen the root causes of some of the dislocation of Baltimore's youth, and how YAP offers a viable solution. "A lot of these kids are out on the streets selling dope because they can make more money that way," Derrick says. To combat some of the challenges our kids face, such as poor education or family lives under enormous stress financially and otherwise, Derrick has established a robust program in Maryland, even engaging in some creative ways to raise money for supported work to help get or keep kids in the program employed.
Derrick recognized the harsh reality that many of the children in Baltimore City are taking care of themselves and their younger siblings at 13 and 14 years old, are unable to get jobs at their age, and have economic needs but no way to legally meet them. "They are unskilled," Derrick said recently, "so they hit the first and the easiest way possible: guy on the corner who says, 'Look. You stand out here all day, you can make a hundred dollars.'" Derrick knew that many of the kids in Baltimore City Jail were there for drug cases, dealing and possessing dope.
The allure of selling drugs to make a quick fix was great, the kids' need for income was real and the number of kids getting locked up for drugs is unnecessary and too high. YAP's supported work program was helping, but needed more resources to provide an alternative to the lucrative business of selling drugs. Thinking outside of the box, Derrick tapped into his own skills and a network of artists he knew who could help him spread the word. He composed and created a poem about the allure of selling drugs, developed a campaign around it called "Save a Dope Boy Campaign," and has succeeded in raising awareness and money from at least one major corporation for supported work jobs for the kids of Baltimore City. With this added resource, the youth Derrick and his staff work with can earn money without compromising safety or freedom, learn job skills and have their advocates, trained in job coaching, helping them along the way.
Derrick directs two programs in Baltimore; one that works with kids directly referred from detention, intended to lower the number of youth in detention and the other with Maryland's Department of Social Services, focused on working with foster care kids who have histories of running away. His commitment reflects YAP's "Whatever it Takes" attitude, and as he puts it: "I'm not going to be the one who lets these kids down."