History & Overview

Young People In Action International (YPA) is a 501 C3 non-profit youth leadership organization, which was founded on February 10, 1984, by a 17-year homeless teenager, in the driving park community on the south-east side of Columbus, Ohio.

YPA’s concept directly impacts, what the prevention, intervention, education, and juvenile justice hierarchy systems feel are the causes of at-risk behavior among young people. Unfortunately, yet typically, when society talks about our youth, we too often use negative terms about what we would like them to stop doing. For example, we want them to stop using drugs & alcohol, stop dropping out of school, stop having sex & getting pregnant, and stop being violent & committing crimes. In short, we would like them to stop having problems and stop being problems. However, when we focus only on youth problems, we may begin to think of youth only as problems. We all want to reduce risk factors, but if that is all our community programs do, we assume that the absence of risky behaviors automatically assures positive growth, and that is a risky proposition.

We sometimes think that we can provide youth with leadership development type of activities only after we have eliminated their problems through prevention or “fixed” their problems through treatment. That is a mistake! In fact, thinking that treatment and prevention must precede leadership development can be most damaging to so-called “at-risk” youth who may need these programs the most. We prioritize treating and reducing risk factors for “at risk” youth because we know their problems are the most serious. Youth from inner-city, lower-income families need to have the same needs met and acquire the same competencies as their peers from suburban and upper-income neighborhoods. When needs are not met and competencies are not acquired, all young people, no matter where they come from, are “at risk.

Our Mission

The mission of YPA is to create a sustainable leadership movement of young people, who are committed to self-improvement & cultivating the leader within, through the development of Spiritual; Social; Education; Economic and Political competencies.

 Our Goal

The goal of YPA is to work with local high schools, faith institutions, parents, and community-based institutions, to identify, recruit and empower High School age youth of color, to establish a YPA Chapter, where they ignite a positive leadership movement. Through this Chapter, they are responsible for:

  • The facilitation & management of weekly YPA council meetings.
  • Engaging college students, parents, and other adults to assist in programming.
  • Completing the “YPA Five Core Disciplines of Leadership Training Certification.
  • Peer role modeling & recruitment.
  • Sustainable fundraising
  • Downloading, sharing, and actively utilizing the YPAworld.org social media app.
  • Participating in Service-learning projects.
  • Facilitating Issue based community outreach and events.
  • Organizing Domestic & International travel opportunities.
  • Participating in BSA Venturing Crews & Outdoor adventure activities.
  • Hosting candidates’ nights & screenings.
  • Attending College, trade schools & Corporate-Career centered tours & field trips.

YPA supports youth in “developing the ability to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and professional goals, and have the self-esteem & confidence, peer, family & community support, resources & motivation, and abilities to carry them out, ultimately propelling them to become responsible members of society, and civically informed & engaged citizens, who are ready to compete on a global scale.

Our Impact

Expanding young people’s skills and building their confidence and competence, has been proven to lead to higher GPAs, less aggression and violence, higher life satisfaction, better mental health, and fewer risky behaviors. Paring that with a collective body of young people and adults, impacts our communities at a much higher level. More specifically, YPA’s program impacts its participants in so many ways, and as a direct result of their participation youth latch onto a more sustainable way of life.

Program Activity

As society relentlessly bombards our psyche with images, movies, reality TV, social media, music etc. that relate to crime, violence, self-degradation, and other negative impulses, and to combat this very powerful system, to the best of our ability, we must introduce a non-stop campaign into the equation. YPA accomplishes our mission and goals through a process of continual positive activities.

YPA hosts weekly leadership council meetings, training sessions, and/or other activities utilizing the 5 Core Disciplines of Leadership Curriculum and other activities and resources which assist youth in building Spiritual; Social; Education; Economic and Political competencies. (Recognizing life’s barriers, participants will be given the option to attend all sessions via Zoom and in person. We will provide every viable solution to ensure the participants can participate) Activities include, but are not limited to the Chapter responsibilities as outlined in our goals.

YPA Milestones

  • Officially moved training camp operations to Puerto Rico.
  • Developed annual leadership contest where student from college campuses enter into the contest and have an opportunity to win a week long, all-expense paid leadership training  in Puerto Rico. Students are then responsible for taking YPA back to their campus and staring a chapter. (still in process)
  • Provided training for Essex County Court staff along with other community organizations and government officials.
  • YPA Official opens offices in Newark NJ and Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico.
  • Officially moved training camp operations to Puerto Rico.
  • Developed an annual leadership contest where students from college campuses enter the contest and have an opportunity to win a week-long, all-expense paid leadership training in Puerto Rico. Students are then responsible for taking YPA back to their campus and starting a chapter. (still in process)
  • Provided training for Essex County Court staff along with other community organizations and government officials.
  • YPA Official opens offices in Newark NJ and Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico.
  • Kicked off 10 year campaign to open YPA Chapters on College Campuses and in other communities and institutions.
  • Formalized a professional MOU with Boy Scouts Venturing and The HBCU Foundation.
  • Began efforts to provide leadership training solutions and ATOD services in Newark, New Jersey.
  • Created the concept we call “who lives in your community”. A comprehensive strategy to galvanize people resources in local communities to action. The simple details are to find out who’s-who and what they have to offer. Then link them with local schools, community centers and/or other community based organizations to offer their special set of skills and hobbies to young people and others in the community for free or at very low cost.
  • Entered into negotiations with Boy Scouts of America and The HBCU Foundation, in an effort to collaborate with them to help YPA open new Chapters around the country.
  • YPA’s “shoes for Africa” campaign,  with the kick off in Sierra Leone.
  • Facilitated leadership training with 5 HBCU’s and their students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Sponsored a group of young people to attend one of the series of Hip-Hop Summits in Detroit Michigan.
  • Developed the “steps to effective mentorships” concept, where by parents link their children with local business professionals, sports figures, zoos, museums, or whatever the youth is interested in, as a way for them to be placed in an environment  relative to certain disciplines.
  • Attended the Stand for Children event in Washington DC with over 300 participants from YPA Columbus, Baltimore and Washington DC.
  • Sponsored groups of young men to attend the Million Man March
  • Opened YPA as a full service youth leadership organization where we offer:
  • The Development of YPA Chapters:
    • Leadership Conferences
    • Leadership Camps in Puerto Rico and other sites
    • High School Student Council Development
    • Youth & Staff Development Consulting Solutions
    • Specialized & Customized Training Workshops
    • The Creation of Full Service YPA Offices World Wide and Certifying Groups & Individuals as YPA Affiliates and Facilitators.
  • Began Lecture series “Identifying-Confronting and Addressing the Ism’s”, on College campuses and community agencies. Commencing at Ohio Ste University-Newark.
  • Established dialog and training sessions with youth from Somalia and America, due to the great influx of  Somali’s in Minnesota, Ohio and Toronto.
  • YPA’s first of many travels to Puerto Rico, in an effort to build a training center for the development of true leadership for young people.
  • Implemented a series of Y2K survival and leadership training courses for youth.
  • As a spinoff of the Million Youth Movement, YPA helped to establish the Global Youth Movement. We are partners till this day.
  • YPA travels to Barbados.
  • Organized the Million Youth March/Movement-Atlanta, GA.
  • Consulted to help create the New Light Leadership Coalition Baltimore, Md. And provided training for them annually for the next 6 years.
  • Held press conference on January 9th in Chicago Illinois to announce YPA’s move to   become an international organization.  With our first international Chapter to open in Sierra Leone West Africa.
  • Started organizational effort for the Million Youth March.
  • Received funding from Main Street Association for an employment readiness and training program we entitled, “get a job-keep a job”, a spin-off of a summer initiative in theater that the founder participated in when he was 14 years old and loosely based on the 1977 comedy-crime movie “A Piece of the Action”, starring Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby.
  • Worked with Government and business officials in US, UK and Guinea to help our     members and their families in Sierra Leone to find safe refuge from the war.
  • Columbus city council resolution of expression
  • Citation of recognition mayor Gregory Lashutka
  • Participated in the Stand For Children event in Washington, DC. We represented YPA with over 300 youth from Columbus, Baltimore and Washington DC.
  • Organized and participated in Urban Scouting with Boy Scouts of America, where we helped to register 5,000 urban scouts and formed a Boy Scouts Explorer Post.
  • Developed the first of many screening process for candidates running for public office.
  • Participated in the Million Man March.
  • Received Funding from the United Way and The Columbus Foundation for Leadership Development in Schools and The Summer Leadership Camps.
  • Obtained 501 C3 status from IRS.
  • YPA Manual Chapter Manual Developed
  • Five Core Disciplines Of Leadership Training Manual Developed
  • Alliance for cooperative justice funding award to address ATOD prevention and intervention programs.
  • Filed for 501 C3 status.
  • YPA youth travel to Tanzania for 30 days on a mission and camping safari.
  • Implemented the YPA Summer Leadership Camps, to include high ropes and ground initiatives, team building, critical thinking, relationship building, etc.
  • Began offering professional home based family services, counseling and consulting for Child Protection Agencies.
  • Developed youth leadership training sessions in recreation centers.
  • Participated in an international conference in Montréal Canada and Collaborated with settlement houses to begin a serious dialog centered around aids and the teen population.
  • YPA Founder gunned down in the Streets by a 14 year old boy who he was trying to help, sparking a national tour against youth violence, gangs and drug activity.
  • YPA Began a series of fundraisers starting with a youth gospel concert, followed by a Michael Jackson and a break dance contest at the Eastside YMCA
  • YPA started its first lecture series on leadership for college campuses at Ohio State University through black Sororities and fraternities. After this time YPA Did the same for Wilbur Forest University and Central State University.
  • YPA organized one of, if not the largest gang summit, with more than 550 rival gang members, (or what we call street organizations) showing up, and Mayor Dana “Buck” Reinhardt, was there to greet them. The Mayor was so disrespectful as he challenged the youth by saying that if they did not want to follow the plan that he had laid out for them, then he had more guns than they did. The actions and words of the Mayor were fuel for the fire burning in YPA, to never stop this leadership movement.
  • YPA officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization on September 26, 1985
  • Young People In Action was established on February 10, 1984, by Troy A. Taylor, later known as Asad Z. Shabazz, to commemorate his 17th birthday. Facing homelessness at the time, he initiated YPA at the Driving Park Library on the Southeast side of Columbus, Ohio, marking a memorable beginning. The first person he reached out to for assistance on this endeavor was Stephany Ivory, a close friend, who helped him in advancing leadership, training, ideas, and a movement dedicated to the well-being of black and brown youth. In less than six months YPA had over 500 members.
  • Worked side-by-side with John Coates, to bring youth together to support Rev. Jesse Jackson, on his campaign for the Presidency of The United States Of America.