The Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project (YASP) is a youth-led, youth-staffed organization with a focus on building youth leadership in the movement to end mass incarceration. Over the last two decades, YASP has provided year-round creative arts workshops for youth under 18 in Philadelphia’s adult jails as well as ongoing support and leadership development for youth who have come home from those jails. During that time, YASP has hired many young people who were previously incarcerated to assume leadership roles as primary decision-makers in the organization.
The Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project’s programs include:
- Youth Participatory Defense Hub: A youth-led space where young people with open court cases—or their families—can receive support, discuss the legal process, and think collectively about next steps and strategies to achieve the best possible outcome for their future.
- Healing Futures: Philadelphia’s first ever pre-charge, youth-focused restorative justice diversion program.
- Care Not Control: A statewide partnership and campaign seeking to end youth incarceration in Pennsylvania, through which YASP leads work to end direct file prosecution and to treat kids as kids.
- Creative Arts Workshops: YASP runs weekly art, poetry, music, and self-empowerment workshops for young people under 18 held in Philadelphia’s adult county jails and its Juvenile Justice Services Center.
- Ascension: An 8-to-12-week music workshop in partnership with DayOneNotDayTwo that combats gun violence by transforming the culture of hip-hop and training local artists to promote socially responsible messages within the community.
- Youth Hub Fellowship: A 9-to-12-month paid fellowship for a young person impacted by the criminal justice system to build their skills and work to end youth incarceration.