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The Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education

In 2004, YAP started our Youth Endowment Fund. The purpose of the fund is to support our youth and families in pursuing college or vocational schools to advance their skills and economic opportunities. The Endowment began awarding scholarships in 2007. Since its inception, YAP staff have raised over $1 million for the Endowment and awarded over 100 scholarships. Over 100 YAP employees contribute to this fund through weekly payroll deductions.

In 2014, the fund was renamed the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education in honor of YAP's founder.


Nina Bowen’s middle school years were the toughest of her life. Now a high school graduate, headed to college, Nina is preparing for a profession where she’ll give others the kind of holistic therapy and support that empowered her to take her life in a positive direction.

As with many teens, Nina struggled with some anxieties in school. Nina had the courage and determination to seek out help. Even after receiving treatment from multiple therapists and counselors, she was not satisfied with her progress. Then someone told her mother about Youth Advocate Programs and Adult Services (YAP) Inc. in Lackawanna County. Unlike the other clinicians who treated Nina, her YAP counselor, Andrea Sharpe, was a mobile therapist. She visited Nina regularly at her home and in her community.

“I was able to work closely with Nina on areas where she felt she needed help and watch all her progress,” Andrea said.

In addition to counseling Nina, Andrea worked with her YAP team to provide support for Nina’s sister and connect her mother with resources that reinforced the entire family’s foundation.

“Eventually, home became more stable and school was easier to handle,” Nina said.

Andrea watched Nina progress. Empowered with new ways to manage her anxiety, she said Nina maintained high honors and became more social by joining clubs at school.

“Towards the end of service, Nina was able to advocate for herself and make tremendous progress with her treatment goals,” Andrea said.

Nina is headed to the University of Scranton where she will major in pre-med and biochemistry. After that she plans to go to medical school and pursue a career in psychiatry.

“Without this program, it would be fair to say my life would not be the same,” Nina said.

Nina recently learned that she is one YAP’s 2018 Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education scholarship winners. Andrea proudly wrote her letter of recommendation.

Nina has been inspired through her treatment,” Andrea said. “I have no doubt that Nina will succeed in her goals, as she always has.”

Nina says the $1,000 Endowment Scholarship will greatly assist her to pursue her aspirations by awarding her with a laptop computer and will make things easier for her single mother who will support her throughout her education.


They say the force of the Crimson Tide is relentless. Given all she has overcome already, leaving Sparta, N.J. to attend the University of Alabama makes perfect sense for Jenna Ryan.

“On an initial piece of paper outlining my grade history and academic achievements, I do not seem perfect, I may not even seem above average, but paper is only two-dimensional,” she wrote in her essay for the Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) Endowment Scholarship. The essay described behavior problems Jenna struggled with throughout her childhood, including elaborate lies, tantrums, even hunger strikes.

“My issues only grew worse throughout middle school; from weekly outbursts towards peers, to visiting the principal’s office for impulsive decisions, followed up by countless lunch detentions.”

Jenna said she knew she was disappointing her parents, and she wanted to do better. But she couldn’t get a handle on her anger or understand why she could not stop acting out.

Jenna said two and a half years ago, she hit rock bottom. “In February of my sophomore year, the police arrived at my house once more to tame an argument between a self-destructive teenager and two bewildered parents, but this time it was the last straw.”



Morgan is about to embark on her second year, spring semester at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) in Lebanon, PA. She has extensive knowledge and experience with the Lebanon Youth Advocate Program (YAP). In her endowment essay, Megan wrote about the various YAP services she participated in starting in elementary school and continuing through her high school years. Megan still benefits from YAP services;  her advocate, Cinthia Bueno accompanies her to her college classes.  Morgan was happy to share how YAP services helped her cope with “medical disabilities, social and emotional challenges, as well as long term illnesses."

At HACC, Morgan is studying Early Childhood Education. She currently maintains a 3.73 Grade Point Average (GPA). As she has consistently achieved Dean’s List, she is part of the HACC Honor Society as well.  Cinthia, a developmental disabilities support advocate, wrote that Morgan has also achieved more independence in both school and her community. YAP congratulates Morgan on receiving a Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship. She is on the road to a rewarding future, and will inspire and make a difference in the lives of young children very soon.


Mayra, recipient of a Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education Scholarship wrote about overwhelming sadness that started in her junior year of high school. A recurring thought she had was, “I’ve always had everything I ever needed from my family, so why am I feeling like this?”

“I didn’t know exactly how to react when my school nurse told me that she was going to call my mom to pick me up to take me to the hospital. I just sat there and nodded politely.” Mayra broke down on the way to the hospital. Her mother “spoke in a soft tone, as if almost a whisper, ‘don’t cry sweetheart, it’s all going to be okay.’” There would be additional hospitalizations prior to her involvement with the Fort Worth Youth Advocate Program.

Mayra participated in the YAP Advocate and Behavioral Health programs. During her time at YAP, she asserts that YAP “helped me to learn new coping skills I didn’t think I had, such as playing instruments, cooking, and working out. I benefited from the YAP program by learning how to relax when so many things in my head are piling up. I learned new breathing techniques, muscle relaxation exercises and grounding.”

Mayra graduated high school and now attends Texas State University. Her long term goal is to become a Clinical Psychologist. Fort Worth YAP, the Endowment Board and YAP Inc. look forward to seeing this resilient young woman achieve her career goals.


Mary is a distinctive recipient of a Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education scholarship. She is the caregiver of a YAP involved youth. Although different than many who apply, Somerset (PA) YAP and the Endowment Board couldn’t be more pleased for this distinction. Mary had been a married, stay at home mother to her two boys for almost ten years before financial strains forced her to find employment. She wrote that she had always “wanted to become a veterinarian but life got in the way” and she found herself working “at various minimum wage jobs but without any real career.”

Somerset YAP Director, Trish Carmo wrote that Mary’s son receives therapeutic services through the YAP local office. Her son, a high school student, has struggled at times but has made strides towards a better future for himself and “Mary has been his biggest supporter.”

When Mary discovered that Penn Highlands Community College offered training to become a Veterinary Assistant she decided to pursue her long deferred dream. She wrote that if awarded a scholarship she felt that she “could make a significant contribution to veterinary care and be a role model to other stay at home moms, demonstrating that it's never too late to live one's dreams.” The Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Board congratulates Mary and reminds all YAP involved youth and caregivers that scholarship funds may be available to them too. Contact your local Program Director for more details.


“I am not proud of what I did to end up in the program, but I am proud that I had the privilege to meet Jason Hodge, who became a big brother figure to me,” scholarship winner Damire said in his application letter. His involvement with the Philadelphia Youth Advocate Program came from his probation officer. His time at YAP included anger management classes, group meetings, and plenty of volunteer service. Damire claims that all of those services helped but the primary reason for the successful completion of his service plan goals was his advocate. He states that “Jason always had faith in me even when everyone seemingly lost all the faith that they had in me. The emotional support that I received was something that every troubled teen should receive."

Now a sophomore at University of Pittsburgh, Damire worked many long hours at Cracker Barrel during his summer break to save for tuition. Armed with a second Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund Scholarship, Damire can now focus on several academic goals he set for himself. He shared that “furthering my education is top on my priority. So, this money from the endowment fund will be enough, I hope, to keep me in school, lower student loan cost, and finally help me earn a degree that people said that I will not be able to earn." Jason Hodge, Philadelphia YAP and YAP Staff across the country are confident that Damire can, and will, achieve his college education goal."