Youth Empowering Parents was founded in 2010, launching after just 11 days of planning. Its founders — youth from Toronto’s Regent Park community — felt strongly about helping their community in innovative ways. While there were many youth programs in Regent Park, there was a limited number of programs targeted towards improving the lives of adults. From the outset, the goal of Youth Empowering Parents has been to offer youth an incredible opportunity to take on the role of service-providers, enabling them to empower their parents and other newcomer/immigrant adults by providing one-on-one teaching in basic English and computer skills.
Since its inception in 2010, YEP has had its credibility affirmed and hard work encouraged by many established organizations. In 2011, YEP became the youngest organization in history to win the United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award, an accolade awarded to only ten of the most innovative grassroots projects worldwide that promote intercultural dialogue and cooperation. Additionally, in 2012 YEP won Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital Ideas Award, given to promising ideas worthy of replication. Most recently, in 2014 YEP received The Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award, a prize given yearly by ABC Life Literacy Canada to a Canadian literacy program which has proven innovative and highly-impactful.
The program started with nine adult students and nine youth tutors, and has since been rapidly expanding. More than 1,000 people have participated from communities across Toronto, Canada, as well as in Ethiopia and Niger.