SOLANO COUNTY (CBS13) – Teenagers are getting a second chance to succeed in Solano County through hard work and with the help of organizations focused on educating America’s youth.

It’s a success no other California county can boast about.

It may not look like much now, but a building under construction will be a yogurt shop with the purpose of giving kids an opportunity to succeed in the real world.

“My mom and dad are both drug addicts, so, like, I was in a foster home for a few years,” said Willie Johnson.

Johnson, 16, had to learn to survive on his own, but the Yippie Foundation is helping him thrive.

The foundation focuses on career development, on-the-job training and education.

“Basically, like, they give you an edge so you can succeed and actually get more job opportunities,” said Johnson.

The nonprofit is opening the yogurt shop, giving Johnson and others like him a chance to learn how to work on the job.

“It’s helping them have confidence in themselves and confidence that they can do this, that they are qualified and able to get that first entry-level job,” said Sherilyn Henry of Yippie Foundation.

Groups like the Yippie Foundation are helping Solano County get national recognition. For the sixth year in a row, it’s been named one of the “100 Best Communities for Young People,” according to America’s Promise Alliance, a partnership founded by Gen. Colin Powell.

“You don’t get to be one of the 100 Best Communities for Youth in America by being perfect,” said Christina Arrostuto, with First Five Solano Children and Families Commission. “I think what they continue to cite over the years is that we collaborate. We work together.”

With nonprofits like the Yippie Foundation leading the way, many low-income children will have a chance to sweep the past behind them, with Johnson setting the example of how to succeed even when life hands you a rocky road.

“Growing up was really tough. We had a lot of struggles, but we made it through,” said Johnson. “And, I’m here right now.”

While there is still so much left to be done, the Yippie Foundation hopes to open Yippie Yogurt by mid-October.

According to Solano County, only 19 communities across the United States have been given this recognition every year since America’s Promise Alliance started.


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