In July 2004, twenty individuals dedicated to uplifting the lives of youth gathered in Lake Tahoe, California to participate in the first Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!) teacher-training program in the United States. As a result of this training, the YES! program was launched as a small youth community development initiative, with programs taking place during school and summer vacation.
The YES! program began to engage with schools in the fall of 2005. In Los Angeles, New York and Chicago YES! was offered as an extra-curricular activity both in school and after school. These YES! programs were successful, with students reporting increased mental focus, improved academic performance, greater ability to manage anger and emotions, improved relationships with their teachers, parents and peers, improved sleep and a host of other benefits.
The YES! program continued to grow from 2005 through 2008. At the close of the 2008-2009 school year, 1,682 students in 16 schools and 4 states had participated in YES! By the end of the 2009-2010 school year, our numbers increased to 5,986 students in 36 schools and 8 states. During this past 2010-2011 school year, we taught 12,845 students in 36 schools across 10 states.
As a result of the great success and rapid growth of the YES! program, the leadership of IAHV inquired into how to create a sustainable, scalable impact on the lives of youth. In response to this question, IAHV conducted its first YES! teacher-training program for public and private school teachers in July 2011. Additionally, IAHV developed a student mentor and leadership program that builds on the life-skills and leadership skills learned in YES!
As YES! for Schools grows we continue to explore program development and partnerships to create a sustainable impact that uplifts the lives of youth..