Philadelphia Nonprofit to Celebrate Four Decades as a Successful Community-Based Alternative to Youth Prison and Detention - Article Details

Philadelphia Nonprofit to Celebrate Four Decades as a Successful Community-Based Alternative to Youth Prison and Detention

Philadelphia, PA (Oct. 11, 2018) – At Philadelphia Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) Inc.’s Oct. 17 open house, 100 youth in community-based detention will help present college scholarships to young people who not long ago stood in their shoes. The open house will bring current and former YAP participants and families together with juvenile justice, social services and other professionals who for four decades have referred thousands of individuals to the program as an alternative to youth prison, detention or other away-from-home placements.

 “The YAP model is actually very simple. We match youth with paid mentor Advocates who live in the same neighborhoods as the families we serve. These very special Advocates help our YAP youth identify their individual strengths and working with them, empower them by helping them build individual toolkits with resources they need to achieve their goals,” said Philadelphia-based YAP Regional Director Randall Sims. “At the same time, we work with family members to help them identify their strengths and the tools they need to ensure that there’s a sound foundation for them and their children for years to come. Our YAP team is always looking to build on the resources we connect our youth and families with, including behavior health, educational, workforce development, substance abuse prevention and other community tools,” he added.

Philadelphia YAP serves 800 young people a year through several community-based alternative youth detention or incarceration programs.  As part of the open house event, youth enrolled in YAP’s community-based detention program will participate in a scholarship presentation for young people who within the last few years faced out-of-home incarceration but were assigned to YAP instead. The college freshmen will receive a $1,000 YAP Tom Jeffers Endowment for Continuing Education Scholarship, funded largely with donations from YAP employees, who currently serve youth and families in 23 states. The award is one of the tools available to YAP participants and their parents in need of additional support to pursue their educational and career goals.

Rev. Mark Tyler
Philadelphia Mother Bethel AME Pastor Rev. Mark Tyler, who co-hosts the Mark and Denise in the Mornings on WWDB AM 860, will deliver a motivational message from Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia YAP open house will take place at 900 W. Jefferson St. from 4 pm – 7 pm. Following the 5 pm awards presentation, attendees will hear a motivational message from Philadelphia Mother Bethel AME pastor Rev. Mark Tyler, who co-hosts the Mark and Denise in the Mornings on WWDB AM  860. The program will continue at 5:30 pm with a 30-minute panel discussion on juvenile justice reform led by YAP National Policy Chief Shaena Fazal and conclude with a dessert reception.

YAP partners with juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health, intellectual and developmental disability/autism, public health, educational, substance abuse, workforce development and other local agencies. Since the 1970s, Philadelphia YAP has served those society considers to be the toughest youth, many who have nowhere else to go, all while adhering to its policy of never turning away or kicking anyone out of its programs. In a John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center study of 1,851 justice-involved young people, 95 percent remained out of placement, at home in their communities six to 12 months after completing YAP’s programs. 

YAP recently announced a $20 million grant from Ballmer Group, which will help the organization scale its successful model and extend its reach to more communities in more states. YAP is also addressing growing community needs such as families dealing with addiction, youth aging out of foster care and youth impacted by sex trafficking. YAP will also create innovative pilot programs related to system change, racial and social justice and its Safely Home Campaign, a nationwide movement to safely care for all youth and young adults in their home communities and with their families by reducing and preventing unnecessary out-of-home placements and creating safer, more supportive communities for at-risk young people.

To learn more about YAP, please go to



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Ryanne Persinger,
National Communications Director

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