January 1, 2022
By Lynzi Whalen
Harnessing youth’s potential and energy, better known as the acronym H.Y.P.E., was a dream of David Magee Jr. After working for years in the Jefferson Parish Juvenile System as a court case manager, Magee became inspired to help kids in the New Orleans community stay out of the system and give them the guidance they need.
In 2011, he and his wife Wendy, who works with children in foster care, started H.Y.P.E. NOLA with the hopes to educate children and adolescents ages 6-25 on how to find their passions and turn them into actions. In 2016, Magee made his dream a reality after years of hard work and partnering with different schools, mental health counselors, probation programs, and the juvenile and judicial court systems. He started working full-time on H.Y.P.E. NOLA to expand opportunities to the youth of New Orleans and help them acquire the skills and resources they need to be the best versions of themselves.
Magee and his family, who are all involved in the organization, take pride in helping youths tap into their undiscovered potential. He explains, “We have a heart for young people and people who don’t have a voice or are falling between the gaps. Out of the neediness of things we saw, we wanted to help children avoid getting into bad situations and come out of the system being independent and functioning members of the community.”
H.Y.P.E. NOLA has adopted middle schools that see high arrest rates in hopes of reinvigorating students’ ambition and educating them on drug and violence prevention. Magee states, “We know some areas aren’t always the easiest to grow up in, and we want students to see their growth opportunities. We really want to target these kids specifically and decrease the fighting and arrest rates, so we visit these different schools and do motivational speaking.”
Besides inspiring students in the public school system, H.Y.P.E. NOLA works with adolescents and adults in probation or diversion programs. The goal is to expose people coming out of the system to opportunities and mentors so they have the ability to change their path and create a bright future. Magee explains, “We want to dive into what their interests are. Oftentimes they’re not sure what they want to do, so we will do an interest survey with their parents or guardians or probation officers to get an idea of who they are. Once we have a picture of the things that interest them, we’ll expose them to different opportunities in that field that the city has to offer. We want them to be aware that even if they don’t have a college degree, they can succeed.” H.Y.P.E. NOLA offers volunteering and shadowing experiences so that youths can get the knowledge and training they need to succeed.
Magee has big hopes and dreams for the future of this organization. He would like to see H.Y.P.E. NOLA produce an enrichment facility. He shares, “Young adults don’t have much to do in New Orleans, but as an adolescent, you can have a lot of fun and not compromise your standards or break the law.” Magee and his team aim to build a facility where the schools can drop children off after school for enrichment and tutoring programs. The vision is to have a recreational center where they work on their hobbies or play sports, have a cafeteria to feed them, and a laundry facility to wash their clothes. Magee states, “The big picture for this organization is to become a hub or safe haven for these kids. We want to feed them, educate them, recreate them, and send them home equipped to improve their community. We want every person to see their potential. The root word of potential is potent, and potent means powerful. We want these kids to not only see their future as being possible but as being powerful. We want them to have an absolute and chartered course for their future.” If you want to help the H.Y.P.E. NOLA team make their dreams for the New Orleans community a reality, visit hypenola.org/donate to find out more information.