Local organization makes big difference in DMV communities


President and CEO Lupi Grady with teen participants of LAYC

Organizations as driven to help the community and DMV as the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) are often hard to come across. This nonprofit organization has helped countless people in the DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area.

LAYC was founded in 1968 in the DC Metropolitan area. They specialize in community service, job opportunities, and youth service activities. They offer summer camps, job fairs, and even work with local food banks to help distribute food throughout surrounding communities

“[Our goal is] to support youth in a successful transition to adulthood and we do that by providing opportunities, access to resources, and programming that meets young people where they are at,” said Lupi Grady, President and CEO of LAYC.

President and CEO of LAYC Lupi Grady found inspiration in her own story to be part of LAYC as a teen. (photo courtesy of LAYC)

Grady has been a part of LAYC since she was in high school in the 1980’s. Being born in El Salvador and migrating to the United States helped her to truly feel and understand a great amount of the people she helps.

”I was the first generation to go to college and grew up in a low income family with immigrant parents that did not know how to navigate the education system in the United States,” Grady said. ”I was introduced to LAYC at the age of 14 when I participated in a SYEP [Summer Youth Employment Program] program. The young people remind me of me in the sense of not always being connected to resources because our family’s lacked understanding.”

One of the programs offered by LAYC is Americorps.  This signature program recruits young people from local communities to help support partnering middle schools with academic and after-school programming. This program, and many others, have given local teens the opportunity to work and gain experience in an organized workplace.

“Americorps is a service program that provides members with an allowable stipend and an educational award at the completion of the program,” Grady explained. These positions help to give teens and members a start on further building their careers.

Some programs include workshops that help participants understand their worth and value. (photo courtesy of LAYC)

In addition to Americorps, LAYC offers 50 other programs for youth, including ones based on arts & recreation, job preparedness, advocacy, safe housing, and the Promotor Pathway.

Although COVID-19 and its accompanying quarantine were very difficult for many companies and organizations to close, LAYC was not one of them. They kept their doors open all throughout the pandemic and served the community in many ways, including food distribution, COVID-19 testing, and even helping people find homes for those who lost jobs and were unable to make ends meet.