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The Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education

In 2004, YAP started our Youth Endowment Fund. The purpose of the fund is to support our youth and families in pursuing college or vocational schools to advance their skills and economic opportunities. The Endowment began awarding scholarships in 2007. Since its inception, YAP staff have raised over $1 million for the Endowment and awarded over 100 scholarships, 34 in 2016 alone. Over 100 YAP employees contribute to this fund through weekly payroll deductions.

In 2014, the fund was renamed the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education in honor of YAP's founder.

Mayra

Mayra, recipient of a Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education Scholarship wrote about overwhelming sadness that started in her junior year of high school. A recurring thought she had was, “I’ve always had everything I ever needed from my family, so why am I feeling like this?”

“I didn’t know exactly how to react when my school nurse told me that she was going to call my mom to pick me up to take me to the hospital. I just sat there and nodded politely.” Mayra broke down on the way to the hospital. Her mother “spoke in a soft tone, as if almost a whisper, ‘don’t cry sweetheart, it’s all going to be okay.’” There would be additional hospitalizations prior to her involvement with the Fort Worth Youth Advocate Program.

Mayra participated in the YAP Advocate and Behavioral Health programs. During her time at YAP, she asserts that YAP “helped me to learn new coping skills I didn’t think I had, such as playing instruments, cooking, and working out. I benefited from the YAP program by learning how to relax when so many things in my head are piling up. I learned new breathing techniques, muscle relaxation exercises and grounding.”

Mayra graduated high school and now attends Texas State University. Her long term goal is to become a Clinical Psychologist. Fort Worth YAP, the Endowment Board and YAP Inc. look forward to seeing this resilient young woman achieve her career goals.

Mary

Mary is a distinctive recipient of a Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education scholarship. She is the caregiver of a YAP involved youth. Although different than many who apply, Somerset (PA) YAP and the Endowment Board couldn’t be more pleased for this distinction. Mary had been a married, stay at home mother to her two boys for almost ten years before financial strains forced her to find employment. She wrote that she had always “wanted to become a veterinarian but life got in the way” and she found herself working “at various minimum wage jobs but without any real career.”

Somerset YAP Director, Trish Carmo wrote that Mary’s son receives therapeutic services through the YAP local office. Her son, a high school student, has struggled at times but has made strides towards a better future for himself and “Mary has been his biggest supporter.”

When Mary discovered that Penn Highlands Community College offered training to become a Veterinary Assistant she decided to pursue her long deferred dream. She wrote that if awarded a scholarship she felt that she “could make a significant contribution to veterinary care and be a role model to other stay at home moms, demonstrating that it's never too late to live one's dreams.” The Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Board congratulates Mary and reminds all YAP involved youth and caregivers that scholarship funds may be available to them too. Contact your local Program Director for more details.

Damire

“I am not proud of what I did to end up in the program, but I am proud that I had the privilege to meet Jason Hodge, who became a big brother figure to me,” scholarship winner Damire said in his application letter. His involvement with the Philadelphia Youth Advocate Program came from his probation officer. His time at YAP included anger management classes, group meetings, and plenty of volunteer service. Damire claims that all of those services helped but the primary reason for the successful completion of his service plan goals was his advocate. He states that “Jason always had faith in me even when everyone seemingly lost all the faith that they had in me. The emotional support that I received was something that every troubled teen should receive."

Now a sophomore at University of Pittsburgh, Damire worked many long hours at Cracker Barrel during his summer break to save for tuition. Armed with a second Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship, Damire can now focus on several academic goals he set for himself. He shared that “furthering my education is top on my priority. So, this money from the endowment fund will be enough, I hope, to keep me in school, lower student loan cost, and finally help me earn a degree that people said that I will not be able to earn." Jason Hodge, Philadelphia YAP and YAP Staff across the country are confident that Damire can, and will, achieve his college education goal."

Evan

Evan is one of a growing number of former YAP youth who applied for and received a second Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship. While involved with services through Somerset (PA) YAP, he set and achieved his goals and worked through numerous social and mental health hurdles. He credits YAP staff as one of the “many reasons” he has “come so far.”

Evan discovered that he had academic strengths in several areas and that he was interested in and excelled in psychology subject areas. This led to his pursuit of a degree in psychology at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. Now beginning his second year of college, Evan wrote that he hopes to complete his general education credits before he transfers to a four year institution to complete his Psychology degree. Armed with his second Endowment Fund scholarship, Evan has Somerset YAP Staff and YAP Staff across the country rooting for his success in college. He may have “come far” but YAP knows that he will go further and achieve more as he works towards his college degree and a bright future.

Jauni

When Jauni and her infant son became involved with Clinton County YAP, she admits that her life was on a “turbulent and troubling road.” As a new, young parent, Jauni faced numerous issues that YAP staff helped her tackle through our Family Preservation services. She credits her Advocate, Brandy with introducing her to resources and programs in the community, giving her “an example of the type of person l wanted to be” and helped her set both long and short-term goals.

While participating in YAP services, Jauni was able to resolve court cases, get groceries and other necessities for her son and graduate from an outpatient program. YAP gave her added support that took “tremendous weight” off her shoulders so she could focus on being a good parent.

In applying for the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship, Jauni detailed her career goal of becoming a Substance Abuse Counselor and a certified recovery coach. Jauni is attending Clinton Community College with a goal of getting a degree in Human Services. The road in front of Jauni is looking less turbulent and she is focused on making “the best choices for the person who counts on me the most, my son.”

Brooklyn

Brooklyn described herself as “a determined young woman who thrives off working independently. I never give up, doubt myself, or give less than my best on anything.” She credited her Roanoke (Virginia) Youth Advocate Program mentors with helping her find the path to a better future. In recommending Brooklyn for the YAP Tom Jeffers Continuing Education Scholarship, Shaneka Bynum, Program Coordinator of Roanoke (VA) YAP wrote that Brooklyn is “academically gifted” and that she was “very proud of Brooklyn for enduring her experience as a foster child with limited natural supports.”

This fall, Brooklyn will attend Mary Baldwin College as a full time student in pursuit of a degree in psychology. Though she faced numerous challenges, Brooklyn learned from those challenges and gained insight. Her life experiences sparked her interest in “studying children's emotional reaction to trauma” and she discovered what she wants for her future. Armed with a clear vision for her future, she plans to help other young people find their path to healing. Shaneka wrote that she looks forward to the day that “Brooklyn casually strolls into the YAP office, beaming about her experiences abroad, people that she has met and adventures she has visualized for herself.” College is just the start for Brooklyn.

Heather

Heather credits the Adams County (PA) Youth Advocate Program staff with helping her navigate the difficult challenges she experienced in her childhood. Over 16 years, her family and she have worked hard to address the loss of her father, family struggles and psychological challenges. Today at 20 years old, Heather is focused on her future goals and is a shining example of resilience, determination and ambition. She credits YAP staff for helping her deal with her grief, anger, depression and all the harmful, angry emotions.

After graduating from culinary art school, Heather began working near her home as a chef. In applying for the Tom Jeffers Continuing Education Scholarship, Heather wrote that she will continue working as a chef at Olivia’s near Gettysburg while she pursues a business degree at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) Gettysburg campus. Armed with this degree, Heather hopes to eventually own and operate her own restaurant. Heather said that she “will make YAP very proud” of her and make it “worth the time they have given her.” Adams County and YAP staff everywhere are already proud of Heather and look forward to all her future culinary pursuits.

Tisheka

Tisheka was introduced to the Harris County (Texas) Youth Advocate Program when her daughter, Chanelle was referred several years ago for Probation Monitoring. Chanelle’s Advocate, Tonecha Jasmine wrote that Chanelle did an outstanding job during her time in the Harris County YAP and is now looking to complete high school. Tisheka wrote that in pursuing her college degree, she has seen a tremendous change in Chanelle. Chanelle will enter 11th grade this fall, as she herself continues classes at Sam Houston State University. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Chanelle is also looking forward to pursuing a college degree.

Tisheka wrote about her struggle with a challenging business math class but said that she was determined to “work very hard," take “extra tutorials” even “stay up all night trying to understand all concepts.” She persisted and passed the class. Chanelle’s former advocate, Tonecha noted that Tisheka is a “great parent… is very focused determined and persistent in her desire to complete her education.” 

The Harris County YAP and the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Board members agree with Ms. Jasmine’s assessment and look forward to hearing that Ms. Woodley, a three time scholarship recipient, has received her degree and that her daughter, Chanelle is following in her footsteps. 

The Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Board encourages current and former clients and their parents to apply for this annual scholarship as they pursue their dreams and change their biographies.

Michael

Michael, a former youth in the Adams County (PA) Youth Advocate Program with an impressive resume already in his young life, added another accomplishment when the Endowment Board awarded him a second scholarship so he can continue classes at HACC Gettysburg. Since his participation in YAP back in 1996-1999, Michael’s partial list of accomplishments include:

  • High School Graduation
  • Long Term, full time employment
  • Maintaining his own apartment
  • Special Olympics participant
  • Special Olympics Hall of Fame Nominee
  • Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship Recipient
  • Public Speaker at Penn State & YAP Board of Directors Events
  • College Student

The Adams County YAP Director, Robert Witt wrote that Michael “throughout his schooling would stop by the Adams office on a regular basis and bring me his quiz scores, test scores. Michael attended our ribbon cutting and proclamation on July 6th in Adams and informed individuals how appreciative he was as well as how well he has done.”

Armed with a second Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship, Michael will take the next step toward his college education goals. YAP Staff from Adams County (and across the country) are rooting for his success and hoping that next year he will apply for a third scholarship to assist in the pursuit of his education goals.

Kamillah

As one of YAP’s core principles, working with families to identify ways that they can contribute to bettering their community, based on sharing their strengths or building upon their interests, is transformational.

Kamillah Nelson’s life has been transformed and she now has plans to transform the lives of other youth in her community. When her mother signed her up for the Houston (Texas) Youth Advocate Program’s YES Waiver Program in 2016 to address behavioral and anger issues, she was struggling. Kamillah began mentoring services with Donald Higginbottom, who helped her see that her future held “endless possibilities.” He wrote that Kamillah “learned from prior life experiences” and is a “serious thinking young woman looking to make a difference in the lives of other young people.”

This August, Kamillah Nelson will attend Houston Community College with the goal of pursuing a degree in Social Work and Education. She asserts that receiving the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship will help prepare her for her “journey to success.”

From what we can tell, Kamillah embarked on that journey to success back in 2016 and is on track to a bright future where she will help the youth that some others “don't want to deal with because of their actions and behaviors.” That’s what YAP does; transforms lives one biography at a time.

Paula

When Youth Advocate Programs conducts a Family Team Meeting, identifying the family’s strengths and needs is critical in achieving successful outcomes. Directors, Coordinators, and Advocates routinely ask, “What do you need? How can we help? How can we work together as equal partners? How can you help?” Newest scholarship recipient, Paula Lynch knows how well this approach worked for her family.

Paula Lynch’s daughter Erynn became involved with YAP due to chaotic and painful family issues. It was when her daughter’s emotional, behavioral and trauma issues became overwhelming that she was introduced and became involved with Youth Advocate Program. Ms. Lynch said that “Erynn’s relationship with Cylee from Crawford YAP was instrumental in Erynn’s self-esteem building.” Erynn completed the program and is on the way to completing her GED. If she stays on track, she will begin college in what would have been her senior year in high school.

Paula Lynch has come through complex family challenges and is pursuing her Master’s in Art Therapy full time, while parenting her three, busy and active children. Ms. Lynch hopes to find time “to become a speaker for YAP and the outcomes that involvement in the program produces.” The Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship was awarded to Ms. Lynch to assist her in the pursuit of her post graduate degree. Crawford YAP listened to this family’s “voice and choice”, implemented a Family Team plan, and watched them move toward a better future.

Eva

Two years ago, Eva Haydu was struggling with emotional issues that resulted in difficulties at school. A local community mental health provider suggested that she seek counseling services at the Youth Advocate Program’s Gloucester (NJ) Outpatient Clinic. According to her YAP therapist, Renee Riddell, Eva was “diligent” and “progressed in many areas” and due to her hard work, she overcame many challenges. Riddell detailed how motivated Eva continues to be and how well she utilizes the strategies she learned in therapy.

Clearly the interventions and strategies helped Eva at school too. She excelled academically and got early acceptance to Rowan University. Her future goal is to become a “helper” for others. She is uncertain whether she’ll be a therapist, social worker, psychiatrist, or psychiatric nurse but she knows that, armed with the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship, she will attend college in September, take classes and explore opportunities that will help her realize her dream career.

YAP Founder, Tom Jeffers believed that “YAP in their work and interventions with young people, their families and their communities change systems and outcomes one biography at a time.” Eva Haydu is a shining example of Tom’s vision and belief in the strengths and capabilities of the young people that YAP serves in 22 states and Washington DC.