History of The Youth Project

JYA First Class Party

Topeka Youth Project is a 501C3 grassroots organization (not United Way Agency) and has been in operation since 1983 serving more than 5,800 young adults in the Jobs for Young Adults Program and the Youth Council/Youth Court has provided more than 75,000 hours of community service to Topeka/Shawnee County.


The Jobs for Young Adults program has received several National Awards:

We are very proud of being a grassroots organization and welcome you to come sit in on a JYA class, attend a Youth Council meeting or visit the Youth Court in action.  You can contact us at (785) 273-4141 for dates and times.

Mission Statement & Guiding Principles

Mission:  Empowering youth in our community to become productive and responsible adults by providing constructive opportunities to prevent high risk behaviors.

Description: A youth development agency providing constructive opportunities for youth in areas of employment and training, community service, and youth leadership, to help youth avoid high risk behaviors which jeopardize their futures.


  1. Youth as resources: Youth are seen as resources, not problems.  Young people can help meet pressing human and environmental needs in our community.
  2. Youth empowerment: Youth have important contributions and ideas and the capability to implement these ideas with adult support.
  3. Self-esteem and life skills: Youth need to develop life skills and self-confidence and be provided the opportunity to use those skills in real life situations.
  4. Diversity: All youth served, not just disadvantaged youth.  The needs of high risk youth are best met through a formal support system that addresses the needs of all youth.


(Employment and training)

Eligible youth are age 16-20

In the past 30 years over 5,800 teenagers have completed the Jobs for Young Adults (JYA) job readiness, life skills workshop and job placement program.  JYA has working agreements with over 150 employers and a 95% employment rate.

The program enables all youth between the ages of 16-20 who attend to become positive productive, tax paying members of our society, especially the high risk youth who feel powerless, worthless, and alienated and who have no attachment to the community, no hope for a better future.  The program gives the life skills they need, jobs that build self-esteem and a feeling of self-worth, education opportunities, career exploration, follow-up and if needed, referrals to other agencies.  We believe when you help young people find a purpose, a goal and a sense of self-worth, the entire city benefits.