Youth Empowering Parents (YEP)

Youth Empowering Parents was developed out of the shared experiences of a group of Regent Park youth. It pairs adults with volunteer youth who speak the same language, and then trains youth to deliver one-on-one tutoring to that adult in English skills, computer skills, and a number of other essential life skills. The goal is to empower youth to become leaders within their own community, and to provide adults with private tutoring education at no cost.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Our Mission:

Youth Empowering Parents (YEP) unlocks community resources to meet the educational needs of immigrant adults by developing youth into effective teachers and service-providers

Our Vision:

YEP aims to improve the quality of life of both youth and adults in priority neighbourhoods. Through classroom sessions, pervasive issues amongst new Canadian adults such as unemployment and lack of community integration can be overcome. Through training, marginalized youth can learn essential life skills to brighten their future.

About YEP:

Youth Empowering Parents is an innovative, highly effective educational organization that facilitates the one-on-one tutoring of adults in low income neighbourhoods by youth with whom they share a common language.

YEP was founded in Regent Park to fill the pronounced void in educational programs focused on equipping adults who are new to Canada, or who have yet to successfully integrate into Canadian society, with the English language and technical skills necessary to enter the workforce at a level that allows them to realize their full potential.

Many of the quarter of a million immigrants who come to Canada each year who are trying to learn English or French, as well as adapt to Canadian culture. Some of their challenges are documented in the following statistics:

  • A Statistics Canada survey notes that understanding a new culture and learning a new language are among the top 5 difficulties that newcomers said they faced within 4 years of arriving in Canada
  • A 2012 Immigration Canada report notes that 60% of 600,000 Canadian immigrant workers surveyed could not hold a conversation in English or French

Though there are many training courses available for these new Canadians, none address the complex needs of adult students as well as YEP. Below are some sentiments expressed by students in conventional classroom settings:

  • “The instructor went through things too quickly. I couldn’t keep up.”
  • “The course was in English. My English is very weak and I cannot understand well”
  • “I was embarrassed to ask questions in my class”

The adults who expressed these concerns would perform better in a one-on-one educational setting. YEP leverages the capacity of youth, who are well equipped with basic English and computer skills, to provide these adults and seniors with private tutoring at no fee. 

Our Story What We Do

Our History:

Youth Empowering Parents was founded in 2010, launching after just 11 days of planning. Its founders — youth from Toronto’s Regent Park community — felt strongly about helping their community in innovative ways. While there were many youth programs in Regent Park, there was a limited number of programs targeted towards improving the lives of adults. From the outset, the goal of Youth Empowering Parents has been to offer youth an incredible opportunity to take on the role of service-providers, enabling them to empower their parents and other newcomer/immigrant adults by providing one-on-one teaching in basic English and computer skills.

Currently YEP operates in 5 locations in Toronto at community centres and schools. A YEP semester spans 12 weeks and consists of one 90 minute class per week. Each classroom holds 15 youth and 15 adults; each youth is paired with the same adult for the duration of the semester to foster a strong relationship between the two. There is a separate fall, winter, and summer semester. The curriculum covers basic English and computer skills, with certificates awarded at the successful completion of each separate course. Courses range both in focus and in difficulty in order to cater to adults with different interests and different proficiency levels.

Awards, Recognition & Accomplishments:

Since its inception in 2010, YEP has had its credibility affirmed and hard work encouraged by many established organizations:

  • In 2011, YEP became the youngest organization in history to win the United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award, an accolade awarded to only ten of the most innovative grassroots projects worldwide that promote intercultural dialogue and cooperation
  • In 2012 YEP won Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital Ideas Award, given to promising ideas worthy of replication
  • In 2014 YEP received The Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award, a prize given yearly by ABC Life Literacy Canada to a Canadian literacy program which has proven innovative and highly-impactful
  • Our youth across Toronto have contributed more than 30,000 volunteer hours. At a market rate of $15 per hour for private tutoring, that is equivalent to over $450,000 in economic value

Our Programs How We Do It


Youth Empowering Parents (YEP) offers non-traditional ESL and computer courses to adults and seniors. Traditional classrooms have one educator delivering lessons to a group of adults and seniors; at YEP, the educator provides teaching guidelines to youth volunteers, and facilitates a class where youth do the teaching.

For every adult or senior there is one youth who speaks their same language to provide one-on-one tutoring. 30% of youth teach their own parent(s). Others teach adults and seniors with who, they build a new relationship.

Program Impact:

  • More than 2,000 participants have benefitted from YEP.
  • More than 30,000 volunteer hours contributed by youth from at-risk communities. 
  • YEP operates in 5 locations across Toronto, with many more planned. 

Many immigrant adults who are new to Canada experience social isolation due to losing their social network; they have fewer friends, their health deteriorates due to stress, and language barriers make it more difficult to integrate into their new surroundings. It is not uncommon for an adult to live in Canada for over a decade without successful integration.

Toronto Foundation’s 2011 Vital Signs Report stated that “Within 20 years, about 1 in 5 immigrants across the country with low English literacy levels (1,033,600 people) will be living in Toronto – a 79% increase over the current number of adult immigrants in the Region who have difficulty functioning with written material in English.” 1

Youth have the ability to change make a positive change at an early stage. They have done so many times in the YEP program:

  • “We’re both learning. She’s learning on the computer and she’s learning English while I’m learning how to teach.”
  • “I came because I like helping people. It’s the same as helping my own parents.”
  • “It was hard before. I tried to learn but after many times I just gave up. But YEP makes things so easy. I feel so confident and I can do so many things on my own now.”
  • “I’m 15 and I’m responsible for teaching a 50-year old. I’m happy knowing that I’m making another person happy.”

1. Canadian Council on Learning. (2010). The Future of Literacy in Canada’s Largest Cities. Pgs. 1-2.

What You Can Do

Ways you can help


Your donation can support 

  • An existing YEP location through a donation towards program expenses (facilitators, youth honouraria, food, materials and supplies) 
  • A new YEP location in another community
  • Our head office as we develop the program further (creating new curricula, building better youth training materials, and supporting our fundraising efforts, among others)

Donation impact

  • Supporting our program operations will enable many more to benefit from our simple yet highly effective program. The average cost per student is only between $100 and $200 for a 12 week semester. 
  • Supporting our organizational development will enable us to take YEP into new communities and become the premier leader in engaging youth as effective service providers in adult literacy. 


Agazi Afewerki
Charitable Number: 838075638RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 62,700


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