Youth Enhancement Services, Inc. (YES) has been a pillar of the Metro Atlanta community, providing quality, accessible, and effective education and prevention services for more than 20 years. YES has impacted more than 2,000 youth and their families.
YES programs provide a second chance for at-risk youth and high school dropouts to be educated and contributing members of the workforce and community. YES encourages all program participants to build their skill 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 problems. Lula had previously worked with other Atlanta non-profit organizations to improve the lives of at-risk youth, but decided to start her own organization. YES initially contracted with 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 of the 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. Mr. 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. During our first year as a NCLB provider, one of the schools we 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 have decided to focus our programs on at-risk youth ages 16-24.
Twenty-one years later, YES is still working to empower youth through education, training and social enrichment with a program model that is comprehensive and effective. We are a recipient of the FRESH Grant, partners with four Fulton County libraries and the provider of GED services for Fulton County Juvenile Court. Currently, YES has six GED preparation locations and is on target to expand to other areas in the Metro-Atlanta area.