On average, approximately 350 young adults ages 16 to 18 are referred for detention by Scott County law enforcement every year. Safer Foundation Quad Cities’ Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) is focused on serving these kids, who have disconnected from high school and/or have been involved with the criminal legal system. YEP helps at-risk youth by developing critical life and workplace skills, earning their GEDs and obtaining access to employment, job training, or post-secondary education, with the overall goal of a safer community.

After learning about this community need and what Safer Foundation provides, the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation (ACUF), the philanthropic arm of Ascentra Credit Union, stepped in to adopt one of YEP’s six class sessions for 2022.

“Ascentra’s investment in Safer’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) Adopt-A-Class campaign will provide needed support for students who did not do well in the traditional school setting,” said Erica Lee, Director, Safer Foundation Quad Cities. “YEP serves approximately 60 students each year, assisting with overcoming the barriers to self-sufficiency by providing them with academic tools and life skills readiness needed to reach their goals. Knowing that Ascentra, a leader in their industry, understands the importance of investing in the education and well-being of our community’s young people is reassuring and a confidence booster for all involved.”

Safer Foundation has been serving the residents of the Quad Cities since 1976 and gives people the knowledge and skills required to compete in the workforce, contribute positively to their communities and live fulfilling and successful lives. They are the only community program that exclusively targets and assists individuals who have been involved in the criminal legal system.

The ACUF was established to continue the service and generosity of the late Paul Lensmeyer, Ascentra Credit Union’s President and CEO from 1993 to 2013. Lensmeyer embodied the “Listening, Caring, Doing What’s Right” mantra that inspires the credit union every day.

“Safer Foundation has identified a need to help underserved young adults in the Quad Cities,” said Linda Andry, President and CEO of Ascentra Credit Union. “This correlates with the People Helping People philosophy in which the credit union industry is founded on and directly relates to Ascentra’s Listening, Caring, Doing What’s Right approach to making a difference in the communities we serve.”

Last year, Safer Foundation’s YEP students surpassed projections for attaining high school equivalency diplomas and job starts. A 12-month follow up survey with student participants revealed that nearly 90% have successfully remained in the community without requiring a higher level of care.