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A 37 year old, Trenton-based nonprofit that fosters self-reliant families and healthy, sustainable communities.

Isles Youth Institute

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Despite being New Jersey’s capital city, and located in Mercer County, one of the wealthiest counties in the State, Trenton is a highly distressed city. More than one in five families live below the poverty level. The median household income in Trenton is $35,259, compared to $71,374 in Mercer County (2006-2008 U.S. Census American Community Survey).

Forty eight percent of young adults in Trenton do not have a high school diploma, and only 3.7% in this age group hold bachelor’s degrees. Residents’ low education levels hinder the area’s ability to attract employers that pay living wages.  

According to the NJ Department of Education’s data for the 2009/2010 academic year, the high school drop-out rate in New Jersey was 1.7% compared to 13.9% in Trenton. Of all students graduating from high school in New Jersey 85% went on to college, 2% went to on to other types of educational programs and 5% obtained full time employment. Comparatively, in Trenton, only 21% of all graduates went on to colleges, 0.2% attended other forms of post-graduate training and 0.3% obtained full time employment. In 2010, of 488 high school graduates in Trenton 331 were undecided about their future.  

The combination of concentrated poverty, a declining level of educational achievement, and the lack of opportunity for gainful employment have given way to an atmosphere where Trenton youth who want to take steps to improve their lives face nearly insurmountable odds.

Isles Youth Institute (IYI) engages disconnected youth; many of whom have been involved with the juvenile justice system, some who have children, some who are homeless and others who have dropped out of traditional high schools, and helps them to work through life challenges while assisting them in meeting their educational and career goals. The IYI mission of “self-reliance through education” is accomplished through a multi-faceted approach to teaching which encourages leadership building at all levels and includes a primary focus on student achievement for placement in post-secondary education, advanced vocational training, or career oriented jobs.

Services include:

  • HSE/GED Classes
  • Construction Training
  • Job Development
  • YouthBuild
  • Leadership Development
  • Community Service Learning Opportunities
  • Evening Program
  • Mentoring
  • Case Management

The desired outcome for IYI students is graduation with either a high school diploma or GED, post-secondary or career-path placement and to become vital participants in the Trenton community. The long range impact of providing these opportunities for ‘hard to employ’ and ‘at-risk’ youth is the development of individuals who will invest in their own futures and in the future of their community. Students and alumni are role models who recruit their younger family members and friends into the program. A future can be envisioned for Trenton where young adults, rather than fleeing to the suburbs, remain in the city, become successful, raise families and reinvest in their community. We will begin to see a sustainable future in Trenton by developing self-reliance in our youth.

Learn more by contacting us at 609.341.4751.