Youth Empowered through Service (YES) Program

The Youth Empowered through Service (YES) Program, coordinated by the Mariposa in partnership with area high schools, uses an innovative experiential learning model to develop youth leadership and instill a spirit of volunteerism and real-world problem-solving in high school students from diverse backgrounds. YES provides a classroom-ready curriculum for implementation in partnership with high school teachers. The Mariposa welcomes inquiries from teachers and schools interested in bringing the YES Program to their schools.

History & Growth
YES Program Model, Goals & Learning Objectives
Service & Philanthropy Expertise

History & Growth
Piloted in partnership with ConVal High School’s social studies department, YES has grown (thanks to critical support from the Putnam Foundation, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Joseph’s Coat, and the Caswell Foundation) to engage more than 1,500 students from 18 communities in the ConVal and Keene School Districts (and also from the divided country of Cyprus through our partnership with the Cyprus Friendship Project) in volunteerism, philanthropy, and real-world problem solving. YES has become a unit in a required course at ConVal (ensuring that the program reaches every student before they graduate) and reached a wide audience at Keene High School (embedded within Scot Tolman’s English Inc. class), where the final round of competition is viewed by over 350 students.

YES Program Model, Goals & Learning Objectives
In YES, high school students work in teams to conduct hands-on research about an issue and an organization that works on that issue, following their interests and passions. They get engaged with the organization, meet with staff and participants, pitch in on projects, and then prepare and deliver a presentation to their peers about the organization’s focus, strategies, and impact, making a pitch for support (think “Shark Tank” with a focus on volunteerism and philanthropy). Teams offering the most compelling presentations progress to a final round of competition for a public audience, judged by a panel of judges who come from the real world of philanthropy and community development, where the winning team wins a grant for their organization.

The primary goals of the program are to:

  • Develop leadership skills and a spirit of community volunteerism among high school students;
  • Increase participating students’ understanding of real-world challenges (from local to international) and empathy for people in different life circumstances;
  • Create a vehicle for students to learn about, volunteer with, and become advocates for nonprofit organizations that are working to address these challenges; and
  • Generate tangible benefits for participating nonprofit partners (including volunteer support, fundraising support, visibility/publicity, internship candidates, and longer-term career candidates).

The YES Program’s classroom-ready curriculum addresses core learning objectives of courses in social studies, civics, and English (especially business English and public speaking), including:

  • Citizenship, values, and civic engagement
  • Community needs assessment
  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Evaluating and choosing an effective nonprofit to address a need
  • Making a case for funding
  • Writing and delivering a public presentation

YES encourages young people to step beyond the familiar and “safe”, engage with a world of difference, and see the world through the eyes of others whose backgrounds and points of view may be very different from their own. It facilitates learning experiences that transform young people’s perceptions of themselves and their relationship to the world around them, giving them a sense of agency and empowerment to make a difference in the lives of others.

Service & Philanthropy Expertise
In addition to the participation of teachers and staff from nonprofits chosen by program participants, the YES Program has benefited from the generous volunteerism of expert judges who come from the real world of philanthropy and community service. Our judges have included:

  • Judy Putnam, Putnam Foundation
  • Gina Goff, C&S Wholesale Grocers
  • Ed Tomey, The Compass Group, Professor Emeritus of AUNE
  • John Hoffman, Hoffman Family Foundation
  • Ted McGreer, Ted’s Shoe and Sport of Keene
  • Ben Taylor, former publisher of The Boston Globe