Who We Are

JAIA is a personal development and leadership program for teens and young adults ages 16-21. We co-create with youth to build healthier communities by promoting mindfulness, mental health literacy, and moral/ethical development.

The JAIA Pillars

JAIA’s curriculum is based on a Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework which is a pro-social approach to building on youth’s strengths, and enhancing their relationship and leadership skills. Embedded in all of JAIA’s programming, is the learning and practical application of: 

  • MindfulnessLearning and practicing present moment awareness of self, their surroundings and others offers youth the ability to reduce stress, anxiety and reactive behavior, and helps to manage cognitive & emotional functioning.
  • Mental healthWe provide youth with experiential learning in social emotional core competencies (SEL), mental health literacy (MHL) and healthy relationship skills to support and encourage self-mastery, esteem and efficacy, address persistent trauma and stressors due to systemic oppression, and promote healthy living on the individual and community levels.
  • Moral/Ethical Decision Making-  JAIA offers youth the study of universal principles (e.g. acceptance, trust, accountability) as a lens through which decision making leads to ethical and moral development. JAIA also creates youth led service learning opportunities to practice ethical decision making real time.

Our Mission

Our mission is to partner and co-create with youth in order to promote mindful, healthy and safe communities through transformative personal and leadership

Our Vision

Our Vision is to develop conscious, confident leaders nationally and globally through youth led and adult guided programming created by youth in NYC. JAIA imagines a world where youth voices
are valued and included for the advancement of healthier communities.

Our Values

We are honest and transparent about who we are and what we believe. We respect and listen to the needs and desires of youth and young adults. We live authentically with integrity. We value inclusivity and encourage collaborative partnerships. We value intergenerational learning experiences.

A Community of Inclusion

JAIA embraces youth/young adults of all cultures and ethnicities, sexual orientations, spiritual, religious and non-religious backgrounds, fostering a community of inclusion and oneness while encouraging each individual path. At the same time, we prioritize serving youth from communities of color, immigrant and LGBTQIA communities. We are committed to empowering youth towards self mastery, as well as ethical mindful leadership as that will someday undo the effects of marginalization and build healthier communities.

What Our Donors Say

“I learned about JAIA on Facebook, through Gena Jefferson’s postings. Having known Gena in a context where we were both Interfaith ministers, I have great admiration and respect for her. As I read about JAIA, I found myself inspired that Gena created an organization that lifts up young people and helps them fulfill their potential.”

Nancy Napier

“I love the “Know Your Worth” retreat. In life, we all have setbacks. Creating a space for those young and old to reconnect with their inner warrior and know that Just as they are – they are good enough. It’s a powerful tool for conquering the harshness of the world.”

Shawn Purvis

Donate & Volunteer

Give a one-time Donation or take a JAIAnt STEP and join our Monthly Donor program!

Just as I Am YOUth Empowerment (JAIA) believes strongly in transparency, integrity and accountability as integral parts of everything we do. From every purpose restricted donation, JAIA’s Board of Directors may allocate between 12% and 20% of that donation to cover its administrative and fundraising costs. If restricted donations exceed the need of the current crisis, the capacity to respond to a crisis and/or when local conditions prevent effective assistance, JAIA’s Board of Directors may allocate these funds to other worthy projects that help fulfill its mission of helping youth and families in need.

Certain states require written disclosures for nonprofit organizations soliciting contributions. In New York State, you may request a written disclosure from the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, 28 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10005, 1-212-416-8686 or www.charitiesnys.com.