Minority Health grant will serve area youth


A three-year, Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) grant totaling $737,000 was awarded this fall to UNC Pembroke’s Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. 

The primary goal of the Youth Empowerment Program is to reduce unhealthy behaviors and to develop skills that lead to healthier lifestyle choices. The Youth Empowerment Program will serve 40 sixth graders in the first year.


Sylvia Pate


Melanie Locklear

“The YEP grant will allow UNCP to not only continue but also enhance its work in serving minority students at the Communities in Schools Academy (CIS) in after-school hours,” said Regional Center Director Sylvia Pate. “This grant will provide crucial programming activities immediately after school, which according to the National Violence Prevention Resource Center can be a dangerous time for teenagers as it is during these hours that teens are more likely to commit violent crimes and to be the victims of violence than any other time of the day or night.”

UNCP Chancellor Allen C. Meadors said the program serves the University’s mission to its surrounding communities.

“The Youth Empowerment Program is strategically aligned with the University’s objectives to work collaboratively toward the economic and social development of the communities we serve throughout the region and we are proud of our affiliation with the Family and Community Violence Prevention Program,” Chancellor Meadors said.

YEP replaces the Family Life Center funding which came through another university. The grant application was authored by Melanie Locklear, YEP director.

“This was a very competitive grant, and we were one of 20 universities nationwide and the only one in North Carolina to receive funding,” Locklear said. “What I believe we did is demonstrate that the Family Life Center program is effective.

“We are very pleased to be awarded this grant,” she said.

YEP has three full-time employees and two part-time university students. The program will seek more student interns and volunteers to serve as mentors.

“The Office of Minority Health stated that they were looking for as many university students to serve as mentors as possible because they are young and make good role models,” Locklear said.

UNCP’s Social Work Department, led by its chair Dr. Sherry Edwards, served as grant application and program evaluators.

Specific Activities and Objectives within the program include:

  • Multi-cultural activities and presentations that will expose the youth of the program to other cultures, increasing their cultural awareness.
  • After-school and Service learning activities that will be used to engage youth in learning and personal development, along with academic development.
  • Presentations by individuals (military, criminal justice, medical professionals, etc.) that will peak youth interests, and increase motivational drives to succeed through careers accessible via higher education.
  • Implement Violence prevention, Values for Life, Substance abuse, and other such curriculums to dissuade the youth from problematic behaviors in school and in life.

For more information about the grant, contact Melanie Locklear at 910.521.6489 or Sylvia Pate at 910.775.4000.