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Project WOW: Transforming Young Lives in Philadelphia

For more than 30 years, Sylvia Ocasio has been a dedicated champion for young people in Philadelphia through her work at JEVS Human Services (JEVS). In her role, she provides crucial support to youth and teens dealing with tough situations like an unstable home life and previous involvement with the justice system.

At JEVS’ Project WOW (World of Work), Sylvia works closely with these young adults. Each one gets a personalized plan to meet their needs and goals. Sylvia and her team are always there to help, and many participants appreciate the level of support they receive. Nafesse, a Project WOW graduate now working in JEVS’ IT department said, “they never once gave up on me.”

Project WOW is open to Philadelphia residents between 16-24 and is free for those who qualify. Individuals can earn a high school diploma and certifications in skilled fields such as property maintenance or information technology (IT). After completing the Project WOW program, graduates often find jobs in their chosen fields or continue their CTE training at Orleans Technical College.

Sylvia creates a safe and welcoming space where these young adults can consider alternative paths to a more stable future. Having grown up in the same Philadelphia neighborhood as many Project WOW participants, Sylvia understands their challenges. Her journey at JEVS began with mentorship, and now she pays it forward by offering life-changing support and opportunities to others. For her, it starts with helping them feel comfortable in a learning environment. She sincerely believes in each participant and says, “they’re all my favorite.”

For young adults without high school diplomas or job prospects, JEVS and Sylvia Ocasio make all the difference. Sylvia’s work reflects the power of mentorship, resilience, and commitment. Through her guidance and shared experience, she empowers young adults to create a brighter future, showing that with the right support, they can achieve big goals.

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