The YESS Institute youth development and education philosophy focuses on creating leadership from within to reduce the likelihood of a student dropping out from school. We seek to provide student leaders the framework and skills to be positive role models to their peers; hence to empower and serve the community from within. We recruit successful 11th and 12th graders to become the mentors in the YESS program. In addition, we select one mentor leader to represent each school’s program and assist the program specialist. The Peer Mentors may be the “star students” as well as students who once fulfilled the profile of the mentored students. All programs are on-site, school-based under supervision of YESS and school staff.
During the 2016-2017 school year, the high school program is serving 350 students at the following Denver Public Schools:
- Abraham Lincoln High School
- North High School
- West Leadership Academy
- Adams City High School
We engage at-risk mentees by providing them with trained peer mentors who come from similar backgrounds and who share the same “cultural zip code.”
Our model includes:
- Recruiting/matching mentors and mentees: Mentors match similar “cultural zip code” of 9th and 10th -grade mentees provides a more inclusive approach of “empowering from within.”
- Mentor training and supervision: Peer mentors receive extensive pre-match training in YESS’ EmoSmart Leadership; weekly training during program and individual coaching when needed by YESS staff.
- Academic tutoring/homework help sessions:Peer mentors work at least once a week 1-1 with mentees on academics
- YESS Curriculum Mentoring sessions: Peer mentors work 1-1 with mentees on social-emotional skill building, academic skill building, post-secondary readiness, and healthy choices following the YESS Road to Success curriculum.
- Post-secondary Readiness Curriculum: Peer mentors work 1-1 with mentees to explore, understand, and articulate post-secondary goals and identify necessary steps to reach goals.
- Scholarships: YESS Institute provides a scholarship opportunity to graduating YESS mentors. Recipients are selected through a competitive application and interview process.
- Ongoing contact with mentees’ family: YESS Mentoring is an essential part of the attendance contract with parents and student. YESS staff and school attendance liaison provide weekly progress to parents.
The YESS Institute’s programs have a strong focus on social emotional skills. The EmoSmart Leadership™ curriculum is a YESS Institute curriculum, which has been developed from years of experience working with youth. The curriculum addresses personal and social competencies that are essential to being successful in school and life; such competencies are self-confidence, respect and integrity; achievement; caring about others and leadership.
Our curriculum has been designed for our staff to coach our youth mentors so that they can teach social emotional skills to their peer mentees. The mentoring component of our program will utilize the YESS Road to Success curriculum, designed to enhance social/emotional intelligence.