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Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, Transitions Coach and FPWA’s YEM Facilitator welcomes students at first Youth Empowerment Movement workshop


The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) launched its Youth Empowerment Movement (YEM) Program on Saturday, May 21 with a diverse group of nearly 20 Brooklyn teens and young adults at Grace Reformed Church. Council Member Eugene provided $5,000 in funding to support FPWA’s creation of this program.


YEM is designed to help youth define their role(s) in helping to shape and transform their communities. Everyone was excited to engage in their first of six weekly workshops geared to equip them with the tools necessary to advocate for themselves and others. They will have the opportunity to examine and form a deeper understanding of issues and ways in which FPWA works to reduce poverty, advance upward mobility and create shared prosperity across New York City.


“As a society, we should do everything possible to make sure that all young people have positive opportunities, and I’m pleased to allocate funds for the Youth Empowerment Movement (YEM) Program,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene, Chairman of the Youth Services Committee. “We have so many talented youth who are ready to do great things and I look forward to seeing the positive impact the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies’ YEM Program will have in our communities.”


YEM youth will be able to connect the ways in which they are already advocates for themselves when interacting with parents, peers and leadership at school and learn how advocacy is effective beyond their personal lives and used to effect change. FPWA will work with enrollees to cultivate new skills, gain self-confidence and become empowered to inform others about ways to get involved in advocacy in the public arena, such as writing a letter to a New York City Council Member, signing a petition, joining a campaign, attending a prayer vigil or demonstration and other social actions. Youth will also focus on personal areas of development such as the ability to identify issues important to them and turn lessons focused on advocacy into actionable, results-oriented approaches that benefit themselves, their families and the needs of their community. 


“It is imperative that we do everything we can to assist today’s youth in developing their own voices,” said Rev. Joel A. Gibson, Director, Faith-Based Initiatives.  “The goal is to empower them to set the most productive course they can for their own lives and encourage them to become effective leaders within their communities. This Youth Empowerment Movement is a great first step in the right direction.  We are hopeful that other NYC Council Members will follow CM Eugene’s leadership and support similar initiatives in their districts.”

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