It’s the eve of YAP’s Golden Anniversary Celebration!

For decades, Youth Advocate Programs (YAP™) Inc.’s social change founders, leaders, Advocates/staff, partners, and donors heard that they were ahead of their time. In 2024, the eve of our 50th anniversary, we are encouraged to see that youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, criminal justice, and other activists, nonprofits, and public policy advocates across the U.S. and abroad have joined the systems change movement.  

Founded in 1975 in Harrisburg, PA., YAP is the leading nonprofit provider of trauma-informed, culturally relevant services that reduce the nation’s overreliance on youth incarceration, residential care, and group home foster placements. We now partner with public systems in cities and counties in 35 states and Washington, D.C. to deliver community-based wraparound and behavioral health services as an alternative to out-of-home placement. In a growing number of communities, we’re also incorporating the time-tested YAP wraparound services model in our neighborhood violence intervention programs. 

We are planning celebrations of YAP’s 50th anniversary in November 2025 that will facilitate collaboration among individuals whose passion and power are expediting trauma-informed systems reform. We will convene national and global changemakers whose interconnected work is making youth justice, criminal justice/re-entry, child welfare, behavioral health, public safety, and other systems more effective and equitable. The goal is to elevate the evolving collective energy that has fueled YAP’s 50 years of delivering and advocating for community-based alternatives to youth prisons, group homes, and residential care, and addressing individualized needs of those at the highest risk of engaging in violence.

The YAP™ Making Social Change Happen Summit and Awards events will take place Thursday, November 6, 2025, in Philadelphia, and on the following Saturday, November 8, in Harrisburg, PA, we will host our 50th Anniversary YAP™ Making Social Change Happen 5k, Walk and Food Truck Brunch celebration. We invite you to check periodically on the YAP 50th Anniversary website page to learn how you can be a part of these events. 

As the YAP team works hard to expand our reach to give more individuals, families, and neighborhoods opportunities to thrive, I invite you to check out some of what we’ve been up to since January.

Gary Ivory

President and CEO

Empowered with Tools to Put Her Dream Career in her Future, Aniya Put the Youth Justice System in Her Past

It didn’t take long for YAP Advocates Caprea Ross and Valentina Landrine to see 17-year-old Aniya’s strengths and interests. 


“Working in the funeral home is something she was passionate about,” Ross said.


Delivering services in communities as an alternative to incarceration and residential care, YAP Advocates and behavioral health professionals empower program participants to see and nurture their strengths while connecting them and their families with individualized economic, emotional, and educational tools to put their lives on a positive path.


YAP connected Aniya with W. D. Jackson & John H. Joynes Funeral Home, where she began working and learning about the funeral business as part of YAP Supported Work, where employers agree to provide job and training opportunities that align with program participants’ interests.


“Everybody doesn’t always get a second chance, third, fourth or fifth chance,” said Funeral Home Assistant Funeral Director Andre Dozier.


YAP recently received a grant from Boeing to make YAP Supported Work available to more program participants in the Philadelphia region. 


The Boeing grant also enables YAP to enroll more participants in YAPWORX™, an employment readiness training program that engages volunteers to educate justice and child welfare systems-involved young people about their jobs and businesses, provide coaching, and create social capital.


Aniya told her YAP Advocates that her interest in mortuary science began when she lost her maternal grandmother.


“I know people’s families worry after death, but I want to open my own funeral home to make funerals be a little easier on them so they don’t have to worry about so many things,” she said. “I just want to help people.”

Read more about Aniya here.

YAP’s Mission Motivates its Employees to Become Donors

For Seyny Dressler and Reggie Cooper, charity begins at home, and then at work. Above and beyond caring for their own families; Dressler and Cooper are among their 198 co-workers who in 2023 made charitable donations that directly benefit families they serve on the job. 

“I donate because I love the values and mission of YAP,” Cooper said. “I feel like I want to support our work in every way I can.”

Some staff support the nonprofit’s international partners in Guatemala and Sierra Leone. However, YAP employee donors, who represent three quarters of the nonprofit’s individual gifts, largely direct their contributions to the Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education, which gives scholarships to eligible current and former program participants and their parents and guardians.

Seyny Dressler

Named for YAP’s late founder, the popular scholarship is nearly 100% funded by YAP staff donations made through payroll deductions.

Reggie Cooper

 “I donate because education is our greatest opportunity to give an irrevocable gift to the next generation; and YAP is doing that though the Endowment Fund,” Dressler said.

For decades, YAP’s programs relied almost solely on funding from government systems partners. In recent years, to expand and scale its model, the nonprofit has been proactive in reaching out to individual donors and bringing in philanthropic dollars from foundations and corporations that align with its mission. 

In addition to the YAP employees who make donations to the nonprofit, 100% of YAP’s Board members are also donors. Learn how you can support our mission here.

YAP in the News

Check out some of the recent news stories about YAP’s people and programs.

Read More Stories in TheNeighborhoodAdvocate.org
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Learn More/We Appreciate Your Generous Support!