Level Up provides holistic mentoring and programming for teens and young adults from high-risk neighborhoods in a safe haven context. We offer the following services: participation in the performing arts, academic tutoring, college preparation, youth leadership development, benevolence, PTSD and family counseling, court advocacy, job placement and ex-offender aftercare.
Level Up also identifies and trains young people for peer-to-peer mentoring roles. Our leadership team guides, counsels, and coaches our teens and young adults to become catalysts for positive change in their schools and communities.
By modeling conflict resolution, Level Up defuses inter-neighborhood gang wars. We speak about de-escalation techniques and engage in anti-retaliation negotiations. Local gang members choose to retire their guns. Drug dealers stop selling on street corners and become law-abiding employees instead. As a result, Level Up is directly reducing gun violence in our beautiful city.
Our monthly, Friday night events draw over 250 young people from the most high-risk neighborhoods across Philadelphia. We know that we are inviting rival gang members to show up at the same place. While we set the expectation that each event will be non-violent, we take no chances. Trained security—consisting of people from the same tough Philly neighborhoods as our youth—is present to ensure that everyone is safe and can enjoy themselves. The “peace gatherings” are completely free and fun with mechanical bull rides, moon bounces, manicure stations, music, and plenty of fried chicken and waffles to eat. “Jersey Club” dance battles give dancers a way to settle conflict without violence. Level Up mentees manage an Instagram account to promote and document the events. Follow @LevelUpFridays on Instagram to see us in action.
The large, monthly gatherings cast a giant “love net” designed to attract teens and young adults from a wide geographic area. We capture a multitude of young people at a time and introduce them to a safe, fun, and nurturing experience with the goal of turning a visitor into a regular participant. Youth are invited to join our more intimate, weekly gatherings. Our weekly safe-space gatherings provide consistent opportunities for individualized mentoring designed to help youth “level up.” We want to move our participants from a focus on the immediate to having a long-term vision for their futures.