Youth Enhancement Services, Inc. (YES) has been a pillar of the Metro Atlanta community providing quality, accessible, and effective alternative education solutions and prevention services for more than 26 years. YES has positively impacted the lives of more than 4,000 youth and their families.
YES programs provide a second chance for disconnected youth who leave traditional public schools before graduating an opportunity to obtain a GED (General Education Diploma), register at post-secondary institutions and become contributing members of the workforce and community. YES encourages all program participants to build their skills level, self-esteem, and sense of community.
In 1990, Lula Gilliam founded Youth Enhancement Services, Inc. (YES) after recognizing the need to address Metro Atlanta’s juvenile crime challenges. Lula has previously worked with another Atlanta non-profit organization to improve the lives of at-risk homeless youth, and decided to start her own agency. YES’ initially contracted with REAL Group and Fulton County Juvenile Court to provide academic tutorials, parenting and life skills classes. After realizing that supplemental academic tutoring was not enough and that many youth in the court system had dropped out of school, YES’ started a GED preparation class. The first classes were held at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Center.
During a youth forum sponsored by YES, Dr. George Napper, then Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), was introduced to YES. Dr. Napper participated in the forum and was so enthusiastic about YES’ work that he wanted to utilize our services at DJJ community reintegration sites. YES spent the next fifteen years providing GED, life skills, post-secondary assistance, and support services to Fulton and DeKalb County youth in the custody of DJJ.
YES provided supplemental tutorial services to elementary and middle school students as a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) certified agency to both Atlanta Public and Fulton County Schools’ systems. During the first year as a NCLB provider, one of the schools YES worked with, Palmetto Elementary, met Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) and was no longer on the Needs Improvement list. We feel honored to have been selected as an eligible and qualified agency under the selective NCLB criteria, but decided to focus our programs on at-risk youth ages 16-24.
Twenty-six years later, YES is still working to empower youth through alternative education solutions, training and social enrichment with a proven program model that is both comprehensive and effective.