Over 6.7 million youth aged 16-25 (about 17% of the total population) are disconnected from school and employment. Ed DeJesus, YAP’s new- and first- National Director of Workforce Development Programs and Policy, has devoted his career to connecting disconnected young people to meaningful vocational and employment opportunities. Read about his experience and more about his new role at YAP, where he will continue his commitment to helping high need youth.
“YAP’s unique approach to working with the highest need youth will be breath a fresh air for workforce agencies and all others struggling to provide effective services to out-of school youth.” “I am looking forward to helping YAP expand this model and share it with workforce, juvenile justice, child welfare and educational organizations across the country,” Ed says.
Over the past 30 years, Ed has provided technical assistance and training services to more than 100 workforce and youth development organizations on issues surrounding youth employment, engagement and development. Ed is known and highly regarded as one of the most passionate and effective speakers on issues of youth development in the country. He has conducted research on key issues affecting youth recruitment, retention, placement and education for numerous organizations that include the U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the National Education Association (NEA). These efforts culminated in published work and adopted methodology for sound youth engagement and are used by more than 100 youth service organizations nationally.
Ed was the founding Director of the Promising and Effective Practices Network (PEPNet) - a USDOL Funded initiative aimed at identifying and disseminating information about effective practices in youth workforce development.
Recognizing that many programs were struggling to recruit and engage out of school youth, Ed pioneered the Youth Cultural Competence (YCC) engagement system, which is an integral part of the YAP youth service model. The Metropolitan Alliance for Adult Learning in Kansas City, Missouri, used this approach to better serve their 16-21 year old population that did not respond well to traditional adult basic education methods. The results were promising: retention in the program increased from 39% to 95% for young adult learners enrolled in a teen only group and a GED pass rate nearly tripled that of previous youth enrollees.
Earlier in his career, Ed balanced an active community life with rigorous education as his training to improve society. He received his BA in Political Science and Public Administration from Fordham University and his MS in Management & Urban Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research. He served as a Kellogg National Fellow for three years, conducting site visits of youth programs in South Africa, Brazil, Central America and Israel.
Ed has spent the past three years researching the impact and value of social capital and ways to help low-income youth access the power of skill that many of their more affluent peers take for granted. In addition, Ed has spent a great amount of time examining the potential of supportive work and social enterprises as an initial career pathway for complex needs youth. Ed has developed innovative career partnerships for low-skilled young adults within the document sourcing, hospitality and construction industries.
Since coming on board at YAP on September 1st, Ed has been focused on four key objectives:
- Building a platform to support YAP workforce development efforts in all states and local areas trough fundraising, technical assistance, advocacy, curriculum development, best practice dissemination, data and evidence reporting and staff /youth training.
- Raising Government, Foundation, Corporate and Individual donor support for YAP’s workforce development efforts.
- Increasing policy and public support for complex needs youth and families.
- Working with YAP leadership to bring the YAP model to other jurisdictions and improve overall quality of services.
Ed and YAP have always had the same goal: to ensure that the highest-need youth have access to a workforce system that respects and values their cultural capital, prepares them for active labor market participation and gives them the necessary knowledge, skills, credentials and tools for long-term economic success.” YAP is excited to have him on the team.