About Us

IT'S NOT JUST OUR NAME,

IT'S OUR PROMISE

Our primary focus in all actions taken, policies made, and lessons planned is the welfare of the YESS students, because we envision all our students becoming caring and productive members in their communities.

The YESS curriculum provides a method to teach emotional intelligence, social emotional learning, and mindfulness. These concepts are the foundation to inner peace, and connection to one’s purpose in life. YESS works from the perspective that everyone has a gift, a contribution to make to the community, and the world; and emotional intelligence helps us to connect to that purpose. We call it finding your Road to Success.

OUR VALUES

COMMUNITY BUILDING

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

EQUITY & INCLUSIVENESS

INNOVATION

INTEGRITY

PEER LEADERSHIP

YESS LEADERSHIP MODEL

THE FOUR I's

INTROSPECTION

The core of leadership and role modeling. To influence society, we believe it has to start from within: clear values, beliefs and motivators.

INTEGRATION

The ability to monitor, control and manage behavior. It allows us to better our relationships with others through exemplary role modeling.

INSPIRATION

Behaviors that inspire others to be and do their best. It brings out the best in others, from one-on-one relationships to group dynamics.

INFLUENCE

It replicates and emulates, and shapes healthy communities. It creates a ripple effect, inspiring good behavior that’s contagious.

YESS THROUGH THE AGES

OUR HISTORY

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In 1992-93, Carlo Kriekels and his friend Ronald ride 35,000 miles from California to Chile on a motorbike.  The 18-month long trip started out as a great adventure to discover the authentic Latin America. It ended with a shift in life priorities. Social justice motivated Carlo to study law. The motorbike trip gave him a “compass for caring”: to improve the lives of children.

YESS co-founders, Susan Greer and Carlo, met in 1995 in England. Carlo enrolls in personal development, emotional intelligence and leadership courses held by Susan’s company Perceptions Training International.

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Susan and Carlo co-facilitated leadership workshops and intensive personal development programs for primarily international business leaders in Brussels, Netherlands, UK and the United States.

Carlo moves to Denver in 1999.

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In 2001, Carlo and Susan made the leap to co-found the YESS Institute as both felt deeply about providing these valuable emotional intelligence concepts to at-risk youth and role models. Initially, YESS focused on training mentors and mentoring agencies in its emotional intelligence concepts. Since 2001, YESS has trained close to 5,000 role models through workshops, speaking engagements, conferences and keynotes.

YESS co-founds the Mentoring Forum in 2002 with Carsten Baumann and Ge Thao to address mentoring agencies’ need for support. The Mentoring Forum was the forerunner to the Youth Mentoring Collaborative in 2005 and Mentor Colorado in 2014.

In 2003, based upon the ideas and leadership by Mountain Vista high school juniors Jacob Malson and Annalise Smith, YESS piloted its first peer mentoring program at Denver’s Morey Middle School

Between 2003 – 2006, YESS facilitates its high to middle school peer mentoring program at Douglas County , Jefferson County – Jefferson High School and Wheatridge Middle School – and Denver Public Schools – Henry Middle School, Denver Center for International Studies

Susan Greer left the YESS Institute in 2005. She moved with her family to New Mexico. Susan left a legacy as she was instrumental in laying a strong foundation as a co-founder and visionary.

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In 2006,the YESS Institute is one of nine Denver mentoring agencies joining the Youth Mentoring Collaborative’s three year contract with the Denver Department of Human Services. We recruited first-generation college students to be mentors to Greenlee and Kepner Middle School students at Denver Public Schools. The program ran successfully for three years.

In the 2006 – 07 school year, YESS piloted its high school peer mentoring program – YESS Mentoring –  between juniors/seniors and freshmen at Abraham Lincoln High School at Denver Public Schools.

In 2008 the YESS school engagement model at Abraham Lincoln receives award as “most innovative school engagement leadership program” by the Mayor’s Office for Education and Children of the City and County of Denver.

In 2009 Denver Public Schools contracted with the YESS Institute to expand the Lincoln model to North and West High Schools.

Jonnathan Smith chooses the YESS Lincoln model as the subject for his dissertation: “A Look into the Cross-Age Peer Mentoring Process and its Effects on the Individual” at the School of Education of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009.

In 2010, Denver Public Schools awards YESS ARRA funding (stimulus monies) to expand the Lincoln model to be piloted at North and West High Schools at Denver Public Schools.

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During this 2011 – 2012 school year, YESS serves 150 students at North, West and Lincoln High Schools as it receives Tony Grampsas Youth Services monies to sustain its pilot models. YESS is now an integrated credited, daily, during the day class. This is the first year implementing the current School Engagement Model.

Co-founder Kriekels received the 2011 “Heavy Lifting Award” by the Denver Mayor’s Office for Education and Children in recognition of his efforts to improve the lives of children and youth in Denver.

In 2011 Richard Male and Associates and the YESS Leadership developed a three-year strategic business plan. The plan provides a road map to fulfilling the YESS vision of developing a best practice that can be implemented nationwide through product development.

In 2012 YESS applies for and receives the prestigious national Service to Science grant from SAMSHA. This technical assistance grant provides the evaluative support to lift our innovative model to an evidence-based practice.

Carlo Kriekels records YESS Institute’s first product “The 9 Key Components of Peer Mentoring” in 2013. An audio course addressing every aspect to successfully implement a peer mentoring program in different settings.

In 2013 YESS makes the strategic decision to work alongside with the Adams County Youth Initiative to focus on Adams County due to migration of low-income families from Denver to Adams.

In 2014 YESS is one of the founding agencies of Mentor Colorado – a statewide mentoring partnership agency under the umbrella of MENTOR to advocate for mentoring and enhance partnerships and sharing among agencies statewide.

In the 2014 – 2015 school year, YESS expands its intensive, integrated YESS Mentoring model to Westminster Adams 50 school district to serve three middle schools – Scott Carpenter, Ranum and Shaw Heights serving 300 students daily.

2015: YESS develops curriculum for the Denver Office of the Independent Monitor’s initiative Bridging the Gap – Cops and Kids Forums.

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Due to gentrification in Denver City and County, many low income families are moving to Adams County, north of Denver. To serve the community where needed, YESS expands its services to the Westminster School District in Adams County. YESS becomes an integrated, credited, daily class for 300 students at Shaw Heights, Ranum and Scott Carpenter Middle Schools.

Washington DC National Mentoring Summit in January 2015 features YESS Institute’s “Peer Mentoring: The Next Generation” workshop

Board of Directors institutes YESS Road to Success Scholarship for most deserving YESS mentors.

YESS Mentoring expands its curriculum to a middle school model with all YESS lesson plans linked to the learning targets of the school district and the State of Colorado.

In 2015 YESS develops curriculum for the Denver Office of the Independent Monitor’s initiative Bridging the Gap – Cops and Kids Forums.

In 2015 Rocky Mountain PBS invites YESS as a community partner in its documentary series: Standing in the Gap: Race & Denver Schools”

In 2016 YESS receives the MBK25 – My Brother’s Keeper – Award from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for its work with boys and young men of color.

In 2016 YESS strengthens internal processes and support system by hiring first Development Director; Program Director without direct service requirements; part-time Office Manager.

In the 2016 – 2017 School Year YESS expands its footprint as Adams 14 School District adopts YESS Institute’s model at Adams City High School; DPS Lake International MS integrates YESS middle school model allocating full-time in-school teacher

YESS receives funding from Department of Higher Education to expand post-secondary readiness support for YESS students during and after high school in two ways:
1) YESS students receive support per College Challenge counselors on college campuses
2) YESS institutes full-time position: College Navigator

In the 2017 – 2018 School Year, YESS partners with Aurora Mental Health, Goodwill, Denver Urban Scholars, Aurora Youth Options and Aurora Research Institute regarding increasing support for students with learning disabilities through a partnership grant by OJJDP. As a result YESS starts serving Westminster High School in Westminster Public Schools.

YESS completes Road to Success Curriculum – a comprehensive curriculum to provide students the toolto nurture healthy relationships with themselves and others, and to educate, inspire, and motivate others to stand up for a social justice issue they are most passionate about. As well, students will learn how to make healthy, informed choices when confronted with marijuana, unhealthy peer influences, and their finances.

YESS partners with the the Denver Office for Children’s Affairs in developing a balanced, educational, and interactive marijuana curriculum – Healthy Lifestyles – to engage middle school students in an after-school setting

In 2018 – 2019 School Year YESS hires its second post-secondary success Navigator to support YESS juniors and seniors in all five YESS high schools, in addition to continue to support YESS students in their post-secondary career.

YESS initiates the Board of Trustees – a philanthropic advisory board – to increase individual donations, increase community connections and strengthen revenue diversification.

In 2019, YESS is invited to expand programming in Adams 14. YESS now has a total of 10 school based programs across Colorado, the newest editions being at Kearney Middle and Adams City Middle Schools.