Mr. Edward DeJesus

Workforce & Youth Development Specialist, Consultant, Strategist
Gaithersburg, Maryland
United States

Focus Areas

Economic Security
Economic Development
K-12 Education
Racial Equity & Healing
Juvenile Justice
Youth Development
Youth Development


Edward DeJesus is a Professional Speaker, Trainer and Consultant. He is the Founder, President, and CEO of Edward DeJesus Seminars and Consulting, and is President of the Youth Development and Research Fund. DeJesus is the author of Countering the Urban Influence: Reclaiming the Stolen Economic Fortunes of America’s Youth. For the past twenty years, DeJesus has committed his life to working with youth who need options beyond the streets. He has directed several major youth initiatives in the South Bronx, Harlem and Washington Heights sections of New York City. DeJesus has been featured in the Washington Post, Black Enterprise Magazine, The Miami Herald, The Baltimore Sun, and by National Public Radio (NPR). DeJesus is also the founder of Fair Chance for Youth (FCFY), an advocacy group of youth programs across the U.S. that fights for employment and training opportunities for our nation’s most at-risk youth. DeJesus has blended his love for reaching youth with a special ability to impact policy by conducing research on effective programs that help youth acquire and maintain jobs. DeJesus serves as a youth policy expert the Sar Levitan Center for Youth Policy at John Hopkins University and served on the Task Force on Employment Opportunities for young offenders for the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. DeJesus balanced an active community life with rigorous education as his training to improve society. He received his BA in Political Science and Public Administration from Fordham University then his MS in Management & Urban Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research and served as a Kellogg National Fellow for three years. As a Kellogg National Fellow DeJesus conducted site visits to youth programs in South Africa, Brazil, Central America and Israel. DeJesus was recognized as one of the top 40 under 40 in Washington, DC in 2002 for his work with youth. In 2003, The City of Miami named October 12th Edward DeJesus day for his work with South Florida Youth. DeJesus focuses on helping educators, workforce development professionals and parents understand how to promote education and workforce achievement through a process he created called Youth Cultural Competence (YCC). DeJesus states, “Instead of complaining about youth culture, we promote an increased understanding of youth culture, peer influence and youth involvement as a strategic way to promote things that really make a difference in the lives of youth. “If corporate America can use youth culture to sell Hamburgers, Soft Drinks and Peanut Butter, than why can’t we use it to sell non-violence, safe sex and the importance getting a high school diploma or GED?” DeJesus states. DeJesus wants to make sure that his knowledge and experience not only benefits foundations and policy makers but also young people. In 2001 DeJesus released his first book, “Makin’ It”: The Hip-Hop Guide to True Survival. After conducting research for the Sar Levitan Center at Johns Hopkins University, DeJesus realized that the information he collected on pathways to success of former drop-outs was needed by another audience – youth themselves. In “Makin’ It,” instead of glorifying the 'hood lifestyle, DeJesus says what happens when you live that lifestyle. “Makin’ It has sold more than 80,000 copies throughout the entire United States. DeJesus also released a positive hip-hop CD “Strength of a Nation” accompanied by a discussion guide so parents, teachers, and kids can have constructive dialogues about the important issues (HIV/AIDS, drugs, violence) raised in the songs. In 2007, DeJesus released the Makin’ It Curriculum, a workforce preparation/life skills program for young adults ages 14 - 24. The Makin’ It Curriculum is a revolution in reaching youth because it organizes programs to take a look at their most valuable asset - youth. It is an entirely new method for connecting with youth and then using youth to produce positive program outcomes for their peers and programs alike. The young people DeJesus is concerned about are the subjects of almost every hip-hop track. They are the ones who live “keepin’ it real” on the streets of many cities. Millions of them are unemployed, out of school, under employed, and or incarcerated. These youth are often portrayed as Super Predators, Gang Bangers and Menaces to Society. Yet DeJesus knows they are not that. They are young people who strive for achievement, opportunity and support like everyone else. Unfortunately, in many inner city communities and rural areas, these supports don’t exist to any significant extent. DeJesus recognizes that effective action with these young adults could dramatically change life in America. DeJesus alone has many success stories of youth that have overcome the odds to “make it.” He knows how young adults can best be prepared for unfilled high skilled jobs, contribute valuable community service, and teach and lead a younger population out of danger and chaos and he shows adults how to do just that. DeJesus brings missionary-like zeal to the positive potential of youth development. As a parent and a committed community advocate, DeJesus knows that the true strength of our nation is our youth. “I learned early on that “I must do something” solves more problems than “something must be done.” DeJesus is about change for the better, using research, analysis and youth popular culture to better the lives of those less fortunate. Sounds simple, but it’s damn hard, and no one does it better than DeJesus. DeJesus is a member of the National Speaker’s Association (NSA) and The International Federation for Professional Speakers (IFFPS).