MISSION AND HISTORY
Founded on the belief that it takes a village, Youth Equity Project, Inc. (YEP) was created to provide resources and services to juveniles in commitment programs sentenced through the Department of Juvenile Justice. Founders, Caitlin Burke, Esq., Jason Katz, MSW, Steven Blodgett, and Nina Vazquez, Esq. worked in public service sectors that inspired the creation of the nonprofit. Caitlin worked at the Department of Children & Families as a Children’s Legal Services Attorney for 4 years. Jason worked for 12 years as an investigator for the Department and another 8 years at private agencies that provide services to youth involved with the Department. Steven is a Senior Grant Specialist with the University of Florida and has 6 years experience in grant accounting and 7 years experience of grant proposals. Nina worked for 4 years at the State Attorney’s Office and spent time in the Juvenile Division in Miami, Florida. Witnessing the neglect and lack of available resources to youth in commitment programs and the cycle of abused, abandoned, and neglected children, YEP was established to provide intervention, break the cycle in an underserved-marginalized youth population and inspire change.
YEP is currently running its pilot program at Alachua Academy, which is home for up to 28 girls ages 13-18 in Gainesville, Florida. The girls are sentenced from all over Florida and YEP adopted a statewide mission to address delinquency. Projected outcomes from the success of YEP include reducing recidivism in juveniles in preventing adult incarceration.