Youth Entertainment Studios

Youth Entertainment Studios

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

YES uses the power of the entertainment and media industries to actively engage, empower, and equip young men for positive leadership roles in their communities.

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Young men’s missing voices and input leads to disconnection and failed policies

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Change surrounding cultures to create a society that values and enriches young people’s transition to adulthood

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

Barrier - Minds of young people have been saturated with the images of Hip Hop. We need more time and positive role models to show them that there they can make better and different choices.

Describe your program or new idea in one sentence.

YES uses the power of the entertainment and media industries to actively engage, empower, and equip young men for positive leadership roles in their communities.

What makes your initiative uniquely positioned to create change in your community?

YES Channels the profound and growing interest youth demonstrate for entertainment and media products as creators and consumers to help them chart a positive course for cultural and community change. YES has successfully forged collaborations between community based youth development agencies, churches and ministries, local government agencies, and community leaders to operate successful teen programs. In particular, with respect to financial sustainability, YES has built relationships with local governments to serve youth on a fee for service basis. In addition, the uniqueness of the concept and the track record of success allows the organization to raise funding from the community.

Describe how you organize and carry out your work?

YES employs two full time staff members and relies heavily on part-time assistance (most of which are program graduates) and volunteers that have media/technology backgrounds to facilitate workshops. Participants set goals and select a module that most appeals to them. Participants attend sessions in small groups that occur several times during the week and work on their projects up to six days a week. YES participants organize regular community showcases and are encouraged to invite their families and friends to witness their development.

What is your plan to scale and expand your innovation into your community and beyond?

YES is currently being replicated in eight other communities in the United States and abroad. Approximately eight years ago, to facilitate expansion of the innovation, YES developed curricula for educating and empowering middle and high school aged youth. YES responds to requests from local, national, and international agencies to assist them in designing similar projects or replicating the YES Model. YES staff members attend meetings with community leaders across the nation and abroad to assist and train them in program implementation. YES maintains a dynamic website that attracts over 750 visitors per month and yields several serious inquiries per week

What other resources, institutional, or policy needs would be necessary to help sustain and scale up your idea?

The YES Model depends heavily on forging collaborations between community based youth development agencies, churches and ministries, local government agencies, and community leaders. The major upfront investment is in technology, which is becoming increasingly less expensive and more powerful. The main ongoing investment is in personnel. The YES Model functions most effectively when it is employed by a youth serving agency or church that has existing staff members who can be trained to conduct the program. The program has proven to be an excellent tool for gaining and sustaining the attention of the hard-to-reach teen population. The principle institutional needs are for more funding to increase awareness and assist other organizations in their efforts to replicate the model. The principle policy need would be in the area of bringing more attention to the value of early and active engagement of youth and the need to develop programs that interest them and are capable of maintaining their interest for large periods during out-of-school time.

Describe your impact in one sentence, commenting on both the individual and community levels.

YES starts with a young man’s dream and challenges him to make choices that will help conform the world to his vision.

What impact has your work achieved to date?

YES has been a catalyst for hundreds of young men in making healthy, positive choices. Young people that have experienced the YES approach in a variety of ways report a common outcome – they have been challenged to think differently about the world and their communities. One young man wrote an email recently regarding a summer music camp YES held on the campus of Hampton University in 1995, in which he said simply “YES changed my life.” Other young people have had the opportunity to remain connected to YES in more tangible ways and report similar stories. YES has helped 10 young men get full and partial college scholarships. YES has employed over 15 young men during the past 5 years. YES recently launched a series of meetings with program graduates to facilitate a leadership transition process so that they can build the organization as we progress in the 21st century.

Number of individuals served

Since being founded in 1994, YES has served over 2000 participants in the South Hampton Roads Virginia area and assisted organizations in 8 states to serve over 500 young people.

Community impact

YES has helped young men gain critical media production, technology, and media literacy skills. Some of them have chosen careers in media, technology, or the arts. Many others have discovered life long hobbies that help them stay balanced and gain a sense of fulfillment. Almost all of them have learned how to set goals, develop plans, manage and complete projects. Additionally, YES has helped dozens of local community-based organizations realize that reaching at-risk teenaged males is more than a pipe dream. YES has discovered a model that works and we are anxious to share it with the world.

Society at large

The YES story has inspired many concerned adults to think differently about their ability to engage young people and make a lasting difference. When we speak with community leaders we share both our successes and failures. We learn valuable lessons from both. We discovered how to engage hard-to-reach black teenage boys, maintain their attention over long periods, and help them develop to become change agents in their communities. It won’t be long before they are making a loud noise on a national level.

What measure do you use to gauge your impact and why?

We use several outcome measures; however, the most important is related to time. Our experience is that the more time we spend with youths, the more lasting the impact will be. As teens, they make choices as to where and with whom they spend their time. When they elect to spend it in one of our YES studio facilities, hanging out with concerned, responsible adults, we know that we have achieved an early victory. Over half of youths decide to keep coming back.

How is your initiative currently being financed and how would you finance further expansion and/or replication?

Over the past five years, YES has sustained the operation through a combination of revenue streams. Approximately 70% of the operating budget is derived from fee for service revenues from local government agencies. An additional 15% from fundraising letters and events, and the final 15% from curricula sales and production projects. We believe this provides a template for a sustainable model that can be used by other independent organizations. Another model that has proven successful is for existing community-based organizations and churches to use the YES Model as part of their youth outreach efforts. Once they acquire the equipment and curricula, the ongoing expenses are minimal.

Provide information on your current finances and organization:

A - $150,000
B - $145,000
C - Approximately 70% of the operating budget is derived from fee for service revenues from local government agencies. An additional 15% from fundraising letters and events, and the final 15% from curricula sales and production projects.
D - 2 full time staff, 5 part time, 5 volunteers

Who are your potential partners and allies?

YES has built partnerships with a wide range of community-based agencies including, Boys and Girls Clubs, middle and high schools, colleges and universities, churches, local government agencies (court services, social services), and the YMCA.

Who are your potential investors?

We believe that once the YES Model achieves “critical mass”, corporations involved in media and technology can be considered potential investors.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

1.YES was founded in 1994 based on work started in the Campostella Square community of Chesapeake, Virginia in 1990.
2.The work in 1990 yielded a music video called “Steppin’ into the Light” that was completed by a group of teens from the community and aired nationally on Black Entertainment Television (BET).
3.In the fall of 1994, YES worked with high schools in Chesapeake, VA, Wilkinsburg, PA, Chicago, IL, and Carlmont, CA to launch school-based after school media clubs targeting at-risk students.
4. In the summer of 1995, YES launched the first TV/film camp and invited 25 participants from the four national pilot programs. The camp was held on the campus of Hampton University and Hollywood notables like Dawn Lewis (A Different World) and film producer Monty Ross (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X) worked alongside the teens to produce a TV pilot project called “Nu School.”
5. In the summer of 1996, YES held the second TV/film camp and participants produced a children’s project called “Hip Hop’s Park”. YES also launched a sportscasting camp that summer with assistance from executives and sportscasters from CBS Sports, ESPN, CNN Sports, and the New York Daily News.
6. In the summer of 1997, YES took a major step forward when a participant of the 1995 camp, Adam Ballard, was provided with the opportunity to direct a professional film crew and produce a public service announcement for the Boys and Girls Clubs.
7. In the summer of 1998, YES made an important leap and moved headlong into the hip-hop music industry. YES worked with the Archdiocese of Boston and the Boston Ten-Point Coalition to operate a Music Production Camp on the campus of Regis College.
8. In 1999, YES adjusted it’s strategy toward building community-based multimedia studios in at-risk neighborhoods.
9. From 2000 through 2004 YES partnered with a wide variety of youth serving organizations in the Hampton Roads region, around the United States and in London, England. Examples include Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, Churches, and youth

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material.

Ms. Washington is responsible for program management and production for YES. YES is a non-profit youth development agency that targets youth at-risk and provides training in media arts and technology founded in 1993.

Ms. Washington is a television producer and former casting director for award winning programs produced for CBS, ABC, and the Family Channel. She is a professor of communication at Norfolk State University and previously served as an adjunct professor at Hampton University. She earned an MA in communication at Regent University and a BA from Towson State University.