Important Read is Below Pictures
The Short and Dirty Synopsis : We are forced to move The Youth Empowerment Zone Gus Young
The Creation of YEZ (The Youth Empowerment Zone)
As many of you know in 2017 after the Great Flood of 2016 many in the city were asking for more positive things to do with/for the youth in North Baton Rouge. THE CEO MIND Foundation which had already been doing a great deal of work in NBR primarily using outdoor spaces, BREC Parks, Community Libraries, MLK Center Event room, and just about anywhere available and effective; but our founder had previously developed the framework for STEAM based youth center which was the brain child of work he had done collectively over 20 years and across the world in the tech, film, media, community development and youth spaces with many organizations big and small and NOW was the time to launch it. Having worked with Councilman LaMont Cole & Ms. Ford on a number of events & initiatives we were able to work out an agreement to use a space inside the MLK Community Center ran by Ms. Ford at no cost and Rep. Denise Marcelle donated some of the initial computers for the youth to use. This was the first win on the road to building YEZ .
At the time of formulating the idea we went to multiple divisions of the city to assist with funding, development or any thing else that could help us help the youth of the city, unfortunately we achieved no success in our ask. We started fundraisers, reached out to local officials which turned our very little, and in the end most of the development cost, build out cost and overall funding to run the program day to day ended up being carried by our founder and most of the work to done to facilitate YEZ in development and daily operations was done by dedicated volunteers, change agents and those who truly wanted to impact our youth. WE are thankful for everyone who put in time, resources and love.
Although over the course of 3 years we were able to secure a 3 grants from Wilson Foundation ,Home Bank & Mayors office which helped and we are thankful for, but they amounted to less than 10% of a single years operational cost. If you didn’t know…. launching and operating a community led STEM program that operates 5-7 days a week without dedicated funding is no easy feat , so making YEZ happen was not without it’s share of hiccups.
Fast forward, as we were in the midst of planning for a new campaign and program expansion, Covid 19 hits the world by storm and basically makes youth programming/events in real world impossible, so we wait. Also as many other organizations, facilities etc, MLK Center isn’t allowing anyone into the building for normal operations. So we continue to wait to reopen, relaunch and impact our youth while working on core infrastructure and tooling.
The End of YEZ Gus Young
While waiting we get a call which in short said that the Mayors office was commandeering the space for a program they recently received funding for, and we needed to move out.
On this Sunday June 30th at 8am , we could use some man/woman power to assist in clearing the rest of the furniture, books, tools, equipment, materials , etc that were used for operations. If interested and available to help, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and or just show up. (also please share this, and seek others to help)
What the Future Looks Like
Currently we are seeking a new location to purchase and renovate or to build from ground up. We would actually like to position YEZ’s new location on Winbourne Ave or somewhere in that vicinity. ( Council Aging has recently opened their new state of the art Intergenerational Program on Gus Young Ave, and we believe it will have a great positive impact for the area, so we have decided to move to an area with great need)
- In 2019 in an agreement with BREC, we converted what used to be Blueberry Park into Community Empowerment Zone, which is serves as the basis for our community development and engagement model. Normal ongoing programming will resume at this location in mid June.
- We have contracted with award winning local design firm The MAPP Group (https://www.mapgrp.com/) to help design the new Youth Empowerment Zone Location
- Community Engagement Meetings to recruit those who want to positively impact change in our communities and neighborhoods will resume in June ( check the calendar for updates www.THECEOMIND.org/events )
How you can help
- Show up Sunday to help us move out of our previous space.
- If you know of a property or location that you think would be ideal please share it. If you know who owns the old Boys & Girls Club (Winbourne & Beechwood) please help connect us, as this could be an iconic location.
- We will soon be launching a fundraiser to help with the acquisition of the property, and operational cost of Youth Empowerment Zone. Donating to it, being an advocate to get others to donate to it, would be helpful and greatly appreciated.
- Become a Change Agent , donate your time, skills and ability to impact. http://ca.THECEOMIND.org (also encourage others in your network to do so.
Again we are thankful for all that participated , donated to, advocated for the program and our youth. This isn’t the end , this is the beginning of a new chapter that will have immeasurable impact on the city of Baton Rouge and far.
We uploaded a few pictures , be sure to check them out to get a tiny peek into some of what happens at YEZ. Below is a snippet of build out of YEZ.