104 S Center St, Ste 102 hello@yipeyouth.org 704.775.4360

The History of YIPE

The founder and Executive Director of YIPE in Iredell County, Inc., Zelda Turner, had a huge concern for the youth in Iredell County and nationally regarding youth participation in society as an important segment. With this idea in mind, Turner contacted the Co-Founder, Lisa Johnson, who immediately jumped on board with the idea. Turner began speaking with potential for-profit and non-profit businesses throughout Iredell County as well as surrounding counties sharing the YIPE concept. Surprisingly, the feedback was phenomenal. As a result of these conversations, verbal commitments and desires to partner, the two moved forward with incorporating the non-profit.

YIPE had its official beginnings on November 2, 2017, upon the granting of a non-profit status by the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State. The first monthly Board Meeting was held on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at the First Citizens Bank located at 204 East Broad St., Statesville, NC, 28677, as Carolyn Lent served as the first Chair of the Board of Directors. This meeting was attended by five potential Board Members, Billy Buck, Lucas Jones, Emily Watson, Joe Abbott, and Carolyn Lent, who accepted the challenge of helping to move YIPE forward.

Zelda Turner, Executive Director, and Lisa Johnson, Director of Operations, created and distributed assessment packets to youth between the ages of 14 and 21 in Iredell County. The paperwork was made available at the local public library, via door-to-door, online transmission, as well as various other methods of distribution.

When the information packets came back, YIPE created a peer group of approximately eight youth who volunteered to receive training by YIPE staff to help increase their customer service and communication skills as well as certify them to train other youth in their age categories to improve their customer service and communication skills in the workplace.

One of the other key components of YIPE training is that interested youth were allowed to volunteer and learn the inter-workings of running a non-profit. Activities such as these were demonstrated by staff and self monitored by the participants to ensure accurate check in and out time, accountability as to which days they commit to showing up, dealing with the public, how they conduct themselves while in the office, how they interact and participate with team deadlines as well as goals. Whenever staff attended meetings the youth were allowed to attend any age appropriate meetings or gatherings available in the community for the organization. We knew this would increase their awareness and help them to understand the importance of partnerships in the community as it pertains to non-profits and the inter-workings of for-profits and non-profits as our nation views its importance.

As mentioned previously, in the interim, the core group of YIPE youth volunteers received training on customer service, communication and a plethora of soft skills that help them learn to network, communicate and become more aware of their community as it pertains to business and employment. Once this core group completed their peer-to-peer training, YIPE staff prepared for another group to receive peer-to-peer training. Our agency planed to provide as much peer-to-peer training as possible to assist our youth in becoming natural trainers because of their exposure and increase confidence levels. The YIPE staff adopted a training schedule that is centered around the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Skills to Pay the Bills: “Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success.”

YIPE had a future vision that the entire organization will be 75% powered by youth between the ages of 14 and 21. It was our mission to allow each individual who walked through the door the opportunity to take part in business in a way that was very hands-on and interactive according to their career desires. We pledged not to limit anyone’s participation based on any eligibility test such as socioeconomic, racial, educational, or any other category, but only according to their willingness, eagerness, and desire to participate. We believed that all youth have potential that is dormant but can be brought to life through interaction and support from staff, peers and the community.

We planned to have the capacity to enroll approximately 100 participants between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2018. This effort included a publicity campaign to ensure massive dissemination of literature regarding the program. Our major desired goal was to make this group aware of their skill sets and to ensure that they were employment ready for the Summer of 2018. This would allow our youth to sit for interviews with our partners/employers in the community who have dedicated various job openings. YIPE participants presented their YIPE Certificates of Completion to verify that they have completed the YIPE Training Program to potential employees.

YIPE Office Manager, Janiyah Summers (left), Assistant Executive Director, Alexandria Biondo, (middle), and YIPE Volunteer, Makya Harrison (right).