MIAMI -

Empowered Youth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of inner-city, at-risk young men. Most of the 12 to 19 year-old's are referred to the program through the Department of Juvenile Justice. Colleen Adams, founder of the organization, says the mission is to “empower at-risk youth to create positive lives, and lasting transformation to better themselves and their communities”. Empowered Youth accomplishes this by providing on-going support, life skills programming, social entrepreneurship training and job opportunities.

After six months of character building and life skills development, those committed to making a change enter the Job Development Program.

This includes:

1.       Culinary training with professional chefs

2.       Entrepreneurial training taught by and on campus at the University of Miami

3.       Vibe 305 on-the-job training

The Vibe 305 is a food truck café that gives the young men a hands-on experience and provides them will a salary. “Before I was making money illegally, now I’m making it legally,” says Alex Velazquez, a participant in the program. “I want to do better in school and now have an interest in business. Every young person should be a young entrepreneur.”

Professionals and mentors donate time and energy to help guide all the young men in the program, but the food truck does cost money. “The Job Development Program is a lifeline to our students and graduates. It provides them a way to earn money legally that helps to support them and their families, while also training them to have a profession that can sustain them once they graduate from the program,” says Colleen Adams. “Our goal is to replace the cradle to prison pipeline with the Bridge to Opportunity Pipeline.”

If you would like to be a mentor with the program or make a donation, you can contact Adams directly at colleen@empowerdyouthusa.org or by phone at 786-317-4160.

You can also mail donations to:

Empowered Youth C/O

Trinity Cathedral, 464 NE 16th St., Miami, FL 33132