What We Do

People do better throughout their lives when they receive support and opportunities from within their communities to strengthen their social, emotional, financial and physical wellbeing. YAP engages in a number of activities designed to create the best possible environments so that all people can thrive as healthy, well-rounded and fully engaged members of their communities.

A significant step to creating the best possible environments is to address the barriers within communities that contribute to poor outcomes for people. YAP understands that systemic racism, bias, and prejudice have contributed to disparities across systems, and that consequently people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, individuals with mental illnesses, and young people with developmental disabilities are overrepresented in youth prisons and other out of home placements, where they are too often subjected to trauma and harm.

Detention, youth prison, and placements in congregate care separate youth from family and community. YAP’s community-based alternatives help program participants and their families achieve life skills and other goals in safe, supportive community environments.

Because helping individuals develop to their potential is closely tied to addressing the root causes that contribute to their challenges, YAP carries out our mission using multiple strategies, including direct services, advocacy and policy change, training and consultation and investing in futures.

  • Direct Services
    Advocates in the Streets
  • Policy and Advocacy Change
    Changing Hearts, Minds and Systems
  • Training and Consultation
    International and Domestic
  • Invest in Futures
    Endowment Fund for Continuing Education

Direct Services

Our continuum of care safely supports wellbeing and helps individuals develop to their potential from through services in their homes and communities. Our individualized services include helping youth and families heal from trauma, access needed community supports and services, form healthy and stable relationships, meet their educational, employment and emotional goals, build positive and lasting community connections, and develop essential life skills.

YAP specializes in supporting youth and families involved in the youth justice and child welfare systems; individuals with behavioral health needs, young people with developmental disabilities and/or struggling with educational challenges; and adults returning from prison.


Policy and Advocacy Change

YAP promotes public policies that create or invest greater resources in families and communities; reduce reliance on facilities and out of home placements; promote equity in areas related to race, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, legal status, and ability; and rebuild well-being. We rely on the experiences of our program participants and direct service staff to inform how we advocate changing policies and systems that affect them and their communities, and we collaborate with like-minded organizations to maximize our collective impact.


Training and Consultation

Since 1991, YAP has helped “change the hearts and minds” of jurisdictions, schools, like-minded organizations and the broader public through providing training, consultation, technical assistance and education. This work is carried out in the United States and internationally.


Invest in Futures

One of the tools available to YAP program participants and members of their families is our Endowment Fund scholarship. Whether the goal is college, truck driving school, a technical certification or other career endeavors, the scholarship is available is available to support recipients’ economic pursuits. In addition to tuition, awardees can use the funds to pay for books, vocational tools or a computer. Since its inception in 2004, YAP employees have been the primary funders of the scholarship, making donations through weekly payroll deductions totaling more than $2 million. In 2014, we named the fund the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education in honor of YAP's founder.