YEP was founded in 1973, in Oakland. We have had a passion for pairing education with work experience since our founders—a group of teachers from St Elizabeth High School along with Dennis Chaconas, future Superintendent of Oakland Unified School District—created St. Elizabeth’s Youth Employment Corporation to address both learning-loss and idleness over the summer. The early success we had with our programs helping at-risk youth succeed at school and work led us to expand, and in 1989, we unaffiliated with St. Elizabeth in order to continue to grow our work beyond summer jobs and summer education.
In 1991, we became The Youth Employment Partnership, Inc. and have been strategically expanding our reach and our operations since then.
As we grew, we shaped all of our programs to include a living classroom component, in addition to the proven work + education model for workforce training. YEP has had tremendous success operationalizing dynamic businesses into new training opportunities for Oakland youth and young adults. Through these living classrooms our youth and young adults have:
- Participated in the largest deconstruction project to date, at the Oakland Naval Supply Center, using a small portion of the 1.3 million board feet of lumber to construct the flooring in our training headquarters. After the project ended, over 75% of our young adults received permanent jobs in the private sector.
- Performed a down-to-the-studs renovation and rebuild of over 20 homes to sell to local families at below-market value.
- Worked their first job, a paid summer internship, at one of over 200 local businesses and 100 local non-profits to serve at hospitals, as junior counselors at over 20 recreation centers, training to support restorative justice practices, and partnering with the Environmental Services Division of Oakland Public Works to collect and analyze water samples at Courtland Creek, as part of their restoration work at Courtland Creek amongst many foundational work experiences.