Billings women turn vision into scholarships for local youth thr - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Billings women turn vision into scholarships for local youth through YEP non-profit

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Serena Anderson uses her past to better the future for youth in the Billings community. 

"When I was little, I was accepted on the volleyball and basketball team," Anderson said. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to move forward (with sports) due to my mother being a single mother of four, so I promised myself that, when I grew up, I was going to help kids in that exact same situation."

Anderson teamed up with her Royal Realty coworker, April Sanchez, to create the Youth Empowerment Program, or YEP. Through the non-profit, Anderson works to provide scholarships for local children in need. 

"It's about empowerment," Anderson said. "We try to go half-and-half with the families that need it."

Anderson said that children or their parents can apply online to receive a YEP scholarship. The YEP scholarships are paid for by Royal Realty profits, local fundraising, and community contributions, and scholarships range from twenty dollars to several hundred dollars to assist in paying for youth extra-curricular and other programs. 

"I've gotten to play football and hang out with everybody," said 11-year-old YEP scholarship recipient, Jaydrian Slagle.

Those who receive a YEP scholarship are also offered additional support and assistance through local programs and mentoring. 

Anderson said "Yeppers" are expected to have integrity, maintain good grades, treat others with respect, and follow other guidelines for empowering youth. The children are invited to weekly 'power hours' every Thursday that provide healthy snacks and an environment for growth. 

"It's more than just giving out funds," Anderson said. "It's about creating a YEP family."

Anderson and Sanchez said they are pleased with  local support. In YEP's first fundraiser July 30th, YEP Bingo, Sanchez said the non-profit was able to raise more than $5,000 to sponsor multiple children in the community. 

The women said they are hoping to raise at least $60,000 in 2017 through various events for the family. 

"We want to bring families together and other activities that help you learn about your children," Anderson said.

Sanchez added: "YEP is excited to bring family fun events to the community."

Next up, the non-profit will offer a Christmas-themed dance party at Bones Arcade on December 23rd starting at 5:30 p.m.

For more information on the Youth Empowerment Program of Billings, upcoming events, and sponsoring local children in need, Serena Anderson recommends everyone to visit http://yepbillings.org or the Youth Empowerment Program - YEP Program page on Facebook. 

Anderson adds: "we're just super excited about building this foundation for Billings!"

Hear from YEP founders and members on KULR-8 News tonight. 

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