Several areas in Prince George’s County are considered at-risk, and young people from vulnerable communities are more likely to engage in health-risk behaviors than their peers. According to the CDC, these behaviors are the leading cause of disease and death for all age groups in the United States. These behaviors often intertwine and manifest during childhood and adolescence and continue into adulthood. They include actions that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and physical inactivity. Youth are more likely to engage in these behaviors between the hours of 3PM and 6 PM – the time between when they come home from school and parents get home from work.
Prince George’s County also faces the challenge of keeping its young adults connected to the school system. According to the Prince George’s Community Foundation, the county is facing a crisis due to its large number of “disconnected” youth. A “disconnected” youth is defined as “an individual between the ages of 16-24 who is not in school and is not working.” The Brookings Institute has reported that there are 7,003 disconnected youth in Prince George’s County.
Based on recent MSDE cohort data, the graduation rate for the county is next to last on the list of graduation rates in the state of Maryland. This ranking, alone, has devastating, reverberating effects on the future of Prince George’s County residents. On average, Maryland dropouts earn $150,000 less in their lifetime than adults with a high school diploma and will cost the state an average of $300,000 over the course of their lifetime.
The Young Women’s Empowerment Series Mentoring Program is hosted free-of-charge to students at select Prince George’s County high schools. It is customized to meet the needs of each school’s diverse participants and facilitate their transition into womanhood with knowledge, confidence, experience, and grace.
This initiative provides the following:
- Authentic learning experiences such as workshops, seminars, and discussion forums to equip young people with knowledge and skills that enable them to succeed in school and the real world, plan for the future, build character and confidence, and embrace healthy lifestyles
- Education about the dangers of engaging in health-risk behaviors (behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and physical inactivity)
- Opportunities to give back to the community through service learning projects
- Out-of-school experiences to help participants develop new interests