Ahead of its time and punching above its weight, Youth Enrichment Services (YES) formed in 1994 to create hope out of hopelessness, paint a bright future out of uncertainty and give young people from inner-city and urban communities a portrait of themselves as successful, empowered, and confident leaders. With YES’ mentorship, our young people go on to become leaders among their peers, and within their schools, homes, and communities.
YES started as Project YES, a summer learning program providing West Virginia youth in public housing communities with academic enrichment, agricultural training, sports development, and mentorship. Project YES generated transformative stories, national accolades, and positive research outcomes that have since informed the organization’s direction.
Etched in the fabric of YES is the value of community-centered programming and the vision for communities to adopt enrichment initiatives. Project YES communities embraced this self-sustaining practice and now operate YES-like programs in many West Virginia locales. This same spirit influenced YES’s move to Pittsburgh, where it became a prime intervention to address urban blight, academic underachievement, and drop-out among teens in center city Pittsburgh. Since its transition, YES has maintained its passion for helping young people realize their goals and dreams and has committed to a mission focused on empowerment, experiential opportunities, academic enrichment, and summer employment.
YES has created a unique confluence of traditional institutions such as the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, local foundations, and university partners to create a synergy that embeds success in every one of our students and families, our mentors, our staff, and our board. Our partnerships, collaborations, long-term funding sources, and other internal and external support continue to make YES the prize jewel of community empowerment in the city of Pittsburgh.
A Blueprint for Success
Youth Enrichment Services traces its roots to the Project YES, a pilot program first implemented in several West Virginia public housing communities in the early 1990s. Extensive research and evaluation within the pilot program underscored the positive effect that creative and active learning have on children and teens, as well as the positive impact the programs could have on the community.
Building upon those experiences, Youth Enrichment Services, Inc., a non-profit 501 (C) (3) corporation was formed in 1994. Our objective was — and remains — to design and implement educational opportunities for minority and underserved children living in public housing and economically disadvantaged communities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
YES is an ongoing success story. The proactive programs developed and nurtured by YES work in unison as positive pathways to future success. Through mentoring partnerships, peer assisted tutoring programs, and — when needed — monitoring and mentoring programs for juvenile offenders, YES invests its talent, energy, time, time and resources in empowering and enriching the lives of children and teens.