Our Vision

To intervene in the lives of those who fall between the cracks of existing education, economic, family and religious resources & help them successfully navigate to a positive life experience through meaningful Christian relationships.

Our Focus

  • Making relationships, opportunities, and resources that count for youth and families towards God’s kingdom.
  • Education: A space for students who are suspended or expelled from school to experience peace, restoration, academic progress, personal growth.
  • Employment: Part-time jobs for youth, along with capacity building workshops and connections with opportunities for their future.
  • Fitness: Space and personal coaching for boxing, weightlifting, and cardio fitness; fostering positive relationships and a release for all ages and skill levels.
  • Mentoring: Connect youth and helpful adults in intentional 1-on-1 relationships towards mutual growth and genuine kinship.

Our History

ESCAPE Ministries was founded in 2009 by Willie Watt Jr., who, himself having experience with gang involvement, homelessness, and drug addiction, dedicated his life to serving people on the margins in Holland and surrounding areas. Since then, ESCAPE has been active in gang intervention, helping the homeless and under-resourced, and empowering youth who fall through the cracks of society.

In 2012, ESCAPE launched the Alternative Suspension Accountability Program (ASAP), which allows students who are suspended or expelled from school to continue their education towards being reinstated in school. In 2013, Westside Boxing Club opened its doors as a boxing & fitness gym focused on providing a release and community for youth. In the summer of 2013, ESCAPE teamed up with the City of Holland to launch a summer job program, which is now run solely by ESCAPE under the name ESCAPE Career Connections. This program provides 40+ jobs every year to ambitious youth in tough situations so they can learn work skills, build relationships, and make money.

ESCAPE values people over programs and is continually adapting based on the youth involved, staff, volunteers, budget, and community needs. We are thankful to have been able to work to empower youth relying on the generous support of our community. ESCAPE a registered 501(c)3, is centered by the Christian Gospel, and honors and embraces people of all creeds, races, backgrounds, and orientations. 

*ESCAPE YFGK means “Youth For God’s Kingdom.”