Empower Youth Program
Case Manager: Benjamin “Benji” Junious
Goodwill’s Empower Youth program provides youth and young adults ages 16 to 24 from the Chicagoland area with job readiness training, skill building and support to prepare for and find their next job.
Case managers are the heart of the program guiding participants in realizing their potential, overcoming obstacles and becoming a trusted source and mentor throughout the job process.
Benji Junious joined Goodwill in 2023 as an Empower Youth case manager with a commitment to the success of youth and young adults.
“I want to see young people, regardless of their experiences, have every resource and relationship they need to make their dreams come true.”
Benji has since empowered several Illinois youth and young adults in dreaming big and owning their future through employment.
Mentoring With Heart
Q: What does it mean to you to be in this role helping youth and young adults map a pathway to a fulfilling future?
Benji: It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I don’t take lightly. Our youth are facing many challenges, several of which they have little to no control over. While we provide a range of services, I think our greatest duty is to serve as a pillar of hope. We recognize that youth are the experts of their own stories and can choose to spend their time and share their space however they’d like. When they give us the gift of their trust, they give us permission to introduce them to new ways of making their dreams come true and that means the world to me.
Q: Share a special moment or interaction for you as an Empower Youth case manager.
Benji: A young person joined the program to obtain experience and find a job to support their grandfather with household responsibilities. At the end of program training, even before receiving a job offer, they said, “Benji, you have changed my life.” In reality, they changed my life. The youth and young adults I work with challenge me to be a better person.
Q: What is most important to you as an Empower Youth case manager?
Benji: It is important to build and maintain community and employer relationships. That is how we can dare youth to dream beyond their circumstances. Being from the Chicagoland area, I am passionate about creating a model of care that becomes the standard for effective youth programming in Chicago’s workforce.
Q: What impact do you witness this program have on youth and young adults?
Benji: Whether youth are being supported in employment, life skills, or just general development, they are walking out with significantly more than what they came in with. They are realizing the power they have in determining what their careers, communities and lives look like.