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

  • To be a Christian discipleship mentoring program.
  • To provide character building, social skills and team building activities.
  • To offer coaching for today’s job market with Michigan Works and Jobs+
  • To provide free counseling for students and their families.
  • To encourage students to explore their creative gifts.
  • To be a safe place for youth in the community.

Our Founder

Willie Watt

Willie J. Watt Jr.

Founder & Executive Director


Willie J. Watt, Jr. is the Founder and Executive Director of Escape YFGK (Youth For God’s Kingdom) an urban ministry for urban teens and young adults and their families. Willie is a member of Christ Memorial Church where he is studying to become a Commission Pastor. He founded the Open Arms ministry which has fed over 3,000 families in Ottawa County and met their basic needs. In 2009 he founded Escape YFGK a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that houses six programs to ensure that children who are expelled or suspended are afforded the opportunity to graduate on time with their high school diploma.

Watch the Willie Watt story:

Our Staff

Esperanza (Hope) Watt

Administrative Assistant
Frank Murray

Frank Murray

Facilities Manager


Veronica Salazar

Veronica Salazar

Lead Para Pro

Board of Directors

Eddie Solis

Eddie Solis

Vice Chair

Serving Since: Fall 2014

Why I Serve: I’ve been involved with ESCAPE since 2011 and as the Ministry continues to grow I wanted my involvement to grow as well. I love ESCAPE and its mission to reach the youth in our community for God’s Kingdom!

Jan Rutgers

Janice Rutgers


Serving Since: January 2013

Why I Serve: I serve on the board to help in making decisions for the growth and maintenance of ESCAPE.

Chris Rottschafer

Chris Rottschaefer

Serving Since: 2009 (The Beginning)

Why I Serve: I started serving to be a friend to Willie. After this many years, I don’t know if I couldn’t serve. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. I have learned so much from Willie, that I think it would be like turning my back on him and the kids if I didn’t serve.

Rosemary Castro

Rosemary Castro

Serving Since: October 2014

Why I Serve: I believe in the Vision that was instructed to Willie Watt by God. This Ministry has helped out so many youth that were not being helped by any other organization. Escape allows these young adults to advance in school, to have a better future and to have a personal relationship with God. I would love to see the A.S.A.P. program grow in leaps and bounds, there are so many more youths that need ESCAPE.

Johnathan Storm

Youth Liason

Serving Since: January 2015

Why I Serve: I serve on the board to be a mediator between the board and the youth, with an ear to the ESCAPE kids I can provide the perspective of a student to the decision makers.

Jon Watt

Jonathan Watt

Communication Liaison

Serving Since: May 2015

Why I Serve: I serve on the Board because I felt like it was a calling from God to be a part of this great thing my father, Willie Watt, started a long time ago. No kid should feel like he or she is alone in the world God made. I want to show young people that there are people like myself and other board members, that care about their well-being whether it be there to help them find Jesus in their hearts or help them get thru high school, college or whatever path they want to pursue.

Sister Noella Poinsette

Sister Noella Poinsette

Education Committee

Serving Since: June 2015

Why I Serve: I’ve been in Holland for not quite a year yet and recently learned about ESCAPE. I’m excited to be on the Board because social justice has been my passion and ESCAPE is involved in many ways through which lives of young people can be transformed. ESCAPE provides one way of creating a more just society influenced by the gospel.