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The United Youth Empowerment Services was founded April 18th, 2016 by four twenty-something family men knowledgeable about refugee community needs, enthusiastic about educational filming, and willing to volunteer our time for the good of our people.


   United Youth Empowerment Services was founded April 18, 2016, by young refugee men and women knowledgeable about their community’s needs, enthusiastic about educational filmmaking, and willing to volunteer time to spread these abilities and the enthusiasm for change to youth and other young adults in Lewiston-Auburn. This is the brainchild of four friends who grew up together in Lewiston after being transplanted from Southern Somalia through the Kenyan Refugee Camp, Dadaab.


Since arriving in Maine in 2005, we have worked tirelessly to complete our educations, obtain and keep steady employment, get married, and start our own families while developing our own skills as young leaders in the community. We have focused on growing our base of volunteers to include both young immigrant and refugee men and women, whether employed, under-employed and/or unemployed, college students and graduates, and high school and middle school students.


Since 2015, we have been creating multicultural narrative films and documentaries about the immigrant population in order to encourage refugee youth to make positive choices and develop a range of skills. Through our lens, we entertain and educate our community while our mission is to empower the will of the immigrant youth, and their families, to illustrate and herald the uplifting change happening in our community. Our biggest organizational challenge relates to mobilizing a much greater number of youth to step forward and take their rightful place as young community leaders.


In 2022, we began transitioning away from solely media programming for youth and community toward more expansive youth development programming, with an emphasis on recreation. During the summer of 2023, we collaborated with other ECBOs to host a large- scale soccer tournament in Lewiston-Auburn. The tournament brought out many local immigrant and refugee youth and showcased the immense and deep-seated passion and talent that resides within our youth. Part of this achievement resides within the strong collaboration we fostered across social, economic, and municipal spheres. More and more youth within the community appeal to our organization to develop and create more recreational opportunities that span more than just soccer. We successfully hosted a basketball tournament during the Fall of 2023 for high school age youth and young adults. With these achievements have come challenges, such as barriers to accessing facilities, providing adequate transportation to all those who wish to participate, and navigating the structural barriers inherent to the municipal systems we must work within to create more opportunities for youth, specifically low-income New Mainers.

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