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Our journey

Scroll through the journey!


Youth Upliftment International (Amélioration Jeunesse Internationale) is a non-profit organization working on behalf of impoverished Haitian youth from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The organization’s primary focus is Collège Amélioration Jeunesse, a primary school that serves street children and other vulnerable  youth from the local communities we work with.

Youth Upliftment International (YUI) started out as a dream by founder Katelyn Bateman, after she saw the desperate situation many street children were living in.

In 2008, she took a family vacation to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. While exploring the city one day, she came across children begging and shining shoes instead of being in school. Her initial vacation plans soon disappeared, and her focus transformed into how she could assist these street kids, many as young as 6-years-old.

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Unable to forget the children after arriving back home, Katelyn began to visit Puerto Plata numerous times a year to check up on “her kids”. While in Canada, she would collect donations of school supplies, clothing, and basic medical supplies to bring with her to donate. However, on each trip down the children’s overall conditions were not improving. They continued to remain hungry, illiterate, and unable to attend school.

She knew that she had to do more than just watch as the children who stole her heart grow older, and remained trapped in the cycle of poverty they were born into.

Educational facilities are often inaccessible to impoverished Haitian children due to the effects of the cycle of poverty as well as the immense racial tensions that face their community. Furthermore, those who do attend school are required to purchase all of the necessary school supplies they will need, along with a required uniform and shoes. Because of this, street children rarely attend school and spend their days begging and working instead.

Why is it so difficult for Haitian children to receive a quality education in the Dominican Republic?

The idea was then born that a primary school would be started to serve these desperate children, who were being denied an education. The name chosen for the school is Collège Amélioration Jeunesse. It began by providing nursery to grade three classes. Since then, it has expanded to 170+ students, and in 2015, the first students of Collège Amélioration Jeunesse graduated from grade six.

All of the students come from impoverished homes, where their physical and emotional needs are not always met. By incorporating programs such as a breakfast program and a mentoring program, we believe that our students will have the proper support they need to be able to thrive academically and reach their full potential.


THE GOAL: to provide students with a high quality education, while also meeting their basic needs.

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