Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)
Our goal for every young person who walks through our doors is that they develop the skills and self-confidence to make a successful transition to young adulthood. Our bilingual programs and services are designed to address the multiple needs of the young people and families in the communities we serve. Through opportunities in academics, arts and recreation, job readiness, safe places to live, and health and wellness, LAYC strives to address many of the barriers to success low-income youth face.
With over 50 programs and services across our sites in the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland, we are pleased to offer our region’s youth opportunities to pursue success in:
- Academics: year-round tutoring and homework assistance, after-school programs, GED exam preparation and education, and college preparation and retention.
- Arts and Recreation: art and media programs, out of school time recreation, and mentoring.
- Job Readiness: job readiness and life skills training, job placement services, internships, and career exploration.
- Safe Housing: short- and long-term family-based and transitional living programs for homeless and runaway youth with special programs for young families and LGBTQ-identifying youth.
- Health and Wellness: welcoming, non-clinical settings for sexual health education and HIV/STI/pregnancy testing and counseling, mental health and substance use disorders treatment, and parenting skills for young parents.
Recent LAYC Success Stories
Yobani Melgar started the program in February of 2017. He was very eager and determined to complete his GED. However, life was getting in his way. He has a small family to support and he needed to work. We were able to allow Yobani to do independent study and tutoring, as attending classes daily were not conducive to his schedule. We were communicating with him and monitoring his progress, but he was reluctant to take the GED exam, although his test scores on the pre-test showed that he should pass. In conversations with the cohort, we informed them that we would have a graduation for all participants that completed their GED the past year. This was the motivation that Yobani needed. In a matter of a month, Yobani took and passed all 4 sections of the GED! Subsequently, he was able to participate in the graduation. Because of his enthusiasm, excitement, and dedication, one of the program managers approached me about offering an outreach position to Yobani. Without hesitation, I informed her that he would be an excellent candidate. Yobani is now employed as the outreach specialist of our Host Home program. He also is in training to become an AmeriCorp member. We are so proud of Yobani and his accomplishments.
America Lucero started the program in April of 2017. She had graduated High School but was having difficulty moving forward with her employment and post-secondary goals due to her low math aptitude. We were able to assist America in preparing for the placement tests, completing FAFSA applications, and applying to college at University of Maryland Baltimore County. She was accepted. We placed America in an internship with one of our internal programs. She did such a fantastic job, that when our former outreach specialist resigned, we hired America as our Outreach Specialist.
Knowledge Equals Youth Success (KEYS)
Evelyn Harris is a 2009 graduate of the KEYS Workshop Component (now KEYS Innovation Component). She was a great asset to the program the three years she participated. Ms. Harris had a traditional upbringing with a twist. She and her twin brother grew up in foster care where they were raised since the age of nine. Evelyn did not let her past dictate her future.
In May 2015, Evelyn graduated from Morgan State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education. While at Morgan State University, she participated in several organizations; National Council of Negro Women Inc. (NCNW), Diligent, Intelligent, Vibrant, Astute Sisters (D.I.V.A.S.) and National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa KOT Gamma Chapter (education sorority).
She is currently enjoying her first year as an elementary teacher at Takoma Park Elementary School. As one of her hip-hop mentors (Tupac Shakur) wrote “reality is wrong, dreams are for real”, everyday Evelyn is reminded to follow her dreams.
Thank you Ms. Harris for your daily contributions to one community.