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YEP/SBHS History and Background

Established in 1989, YEP (Youth Enrichment Program) of Wilson, Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational and cultural organization inspired by the legendary educator and playwright Mrs. Sallie Baldwin Howard and founded by Dr. JoAnne Woodard, a licensed psychologist and Wilson native.

From the very beginning, this work was a labor of love. YEP began as a volunteer grassroots initiative devoted to breaking the cycle of drugs, crime, truancy and teenage pregnancy in low-income communities. The organization developed educational programs — summer camps, community choirs, workshops for boys, rites of passage training, parent education seminars and more – to build self-confidence and raise the achievements and aspirations of local youth.

For 8 consecutive summers, YEP served over 400 children each year thanks to the support of area churches, elected officials and community leaders. The program’s impact was immediate: Wilson saw a decline in juvenile crime during the summers and demand for enrollment created long waiting lists.

After just a few years, it became clear that YEP needed a more permanent year-round presence in the community. The organization went on to apply for and win one of North Carolina’s first contracts to operate a public charter school. Thus, in 1997, the Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts & Education (SBHS) was born.

Two decades later, SBHS serves 1,200 students in grades K-12 and features a performing arts-based curriculum, a travel abroad program, and a culturally diverse faculty. In 2020, the school expanded to include a high school offering majors in the fine arts as well as a 4-year biotechnology training program with college credit.

Since its founding, SBHS has been on a mission to capture the imagination and spirit of children whose lives and accomplishments would be unfulfilled had there not been a school dedicated to the ideals that Mrs. Howard lived, taught, and left as her legacy. With passion, heart, and determination, Sallie B. Howard School has helped many children believe and achieve their dreams.

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