Meet Our Community Partners

Last year YEZ collaborated with local businesses to create 47 new jobs for youth participants. Of the 60 children and youth who participated in our Job Readiness Training half of them increased their skills by at least 20 percent (based on pre- and post-tests). The success of the Job Readiness Training program is illustrated by our success stories, like this one published in the Columbia Business Times:

“Steve Maurer and Jackie Barnes are two of YEZ’s success stories. Both graduated high school and they were looking for full-time employment. As with other YEZ teens, YEZ first helped the two brush up their resumes and interviewing skills using computers and other job hunting tools in the office’s workroom and computer lab. Then came the process of filling out applications and actually going to job interviews.

At Missouri Cotton Exchange, a T-shirt screen-printing business located in south Columbia, Barnes’ main responsibility is to sort T-shirts hot off the press. “I was nervous at first, but this has been great; I love my job and they keep giving me more things to do,” Barnes said.

YEZ not only helps at-risk youth find employment, but it also tries to establish mentorships with the youth’s employers. Walter Crook, production manager at Missouri Cotton Exchange, said he’s impressed with how Barnes matured so quickly into a significant member of his team. “I’m glad we got her; I even like her,” he said then grinned. “It’s quite possible that we’ll hire more workers from YEZ.”

The sentiment of local businesses was also described by Phillip Dercher, President of Sterling Food Service Management:

“I had a job opening, but was reluctant to hire a teen at first because it’s imperative that my staff show up on time every time, otherwise there a lot of hungry and angry people,” Dercher said. “Karita and Lorenzo assured me that I could trust a YEZ teen, and they were absolutely right. I’ve never had to worry …They do everything they can to help their teens succeed”

The businesses and employers below have partnered with Youth Empowerment Zone to employ qualified youth and provide them with trained and screened mentors.

  • All Star Cuts
  • Applebees
  • The Bluffs
  • Boone County Community Partnership
  • Bread Basket
  • City of Columbia (Top 5 Employer)
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Express Fashions
  • First Chance for Children
  • Frito Lay/Quaker Oats
  • Hardee’s
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Hollywood Video
  • Inter Act Teen to Teen Theater
  • MFA Oil (5 locations)
  • McDonald’s (3 locations)
  • Miller’s Professional Imaging
  • PhoneSmart
  • Popeye’s Chicken
  • Sbarro’s
  • Southampton Nursing
  • Super WalMart
  • Taco Bell (5 locations)
  • Target
  • Toys ‘R Us
  • University of Missouri Health Care (Top 5 Employer)
  • Woodhaven