The Youth Excellence Project (YEP) is a volunteer-run program designed to empower teen boys who have faced significant life challenges to build resilience, navigate life obstacles, and emerge as young adults committed to bettering society. We partner with several non-profit organizations to offer a series of adventure and leadership challenges held throughout the year.

Our 2019 challenges kick off with a winter cabin camping experience facilitated by Outside Perspectives, followed by a spring hiking/camping expedition with Outside Perspectives, a full-day fitness and martial arts mash-up with CAGE Fitness & Ju Jitsu Academy, a high trees zip-line and ropes course challenge with Empower Leadership Sports, a high peaks summer backpacking adventure with Outside Perspectives, a late summer 4-day canoe camping challenge with Outside Perspectives, and a Youth Leadership Summit that the boys will host in the fall focused on non-violence and healthy masculinity along with the Children’s Center on Family Violence.

Across the year, the boys establish strong, healthy, and lasting relationships with positive adults and peers. Our expectation is that these connections can be sustained and serve to provide a valuable resource as these boys attain personal goals and find direction. We also work together to positively impact our communities, with a particular focus on preventing violence and supporting individuals affected by violence. In this capacity, there are additional opportunities to partner with outside agencies to provide peer-led workshops other youth and develop media to raise public awareness of the effects of violence, promote healthy relationships, and advocate for victims in need of support.


Who is eligible? Eligible youth are male, ages 13-16, who reside in Connecticut and who have faced significant life challenges but show signs of resiliency. Youth must demonstrate interest and investment in the program and commit to group activities. Cohorts are made up of 10 youth and will be finalized in January. Registration will close after 10 youth have been selected.

What does it cost? YEP is entirely volunteer-run. We work hard to acquire as much funding for programs as possible through small foundation grants and donations. This ultimately offsets about two-thirds of the actual costs. Tuition covers the remaining cost and this is kept as low as possible. Tuition for the 2019 challenge series is $1,000. Additional support may be available to some families.

How do I nominate a youth for the program? To nominate a youth, please complete and submit the following form at this link: https://goo.gl/forms/GVKrcsbtl5XVPq8b2

Our Core Values


I will lend my hand and mind to those in need without expecting anything in return. I will demonstrate leadership to those who need guidance whether I place myself in that position or find myself there unexpectedly. I will do so for others regardless of age, color, gender, culture, or background. I am a valuable resource to others. I will continue to find ways to make meaningful contributions.


I will tolerate the small stressors in my life and persevere the big ones. The trauma, violence, loss, or adversity I’ve lived will not stop me – I will persist and learn from it. When I need help I will realize it and seek the support of others.  My strength will serve to inspire others who have experienced the same. I will do more than survive – I will thrive.


I will be honest with myself and others. Actions towards myself and others with be motivated by morality and good character. While no one is flawless, I will learn from my mistakes and grow from them. I can depend on myself. Others can depend on me.


I am excited about life and what it has to offer. I will seek out new ways of understanding myself and my place in this world. I will focus on my education. I will keep an open mind and embrace new opportunities. I will build on my strengths. I will be mindful of my weaknesses. My future is bright.

Become a YEP Sponsor

We are grateful to all of the individuals, organizations, and businesses that make it possible to implement a program like this. Your support means that we can continue doing this important work with youth who otherwise may not have these resources. Our success raising funds has a direct impact on the number of youth we can serve and the amount of programming we can do. If you are interested in supporting the Youth Excellence Project, there are a few different options. You can sponsor a youth by either making a personal donation via our GoFundMe account: https://www.gofundme.com/youth-excellence-project (note- a small fee is retained by GoFundMe and you will receive a tax receipt automatically)  -or-  by arranging to send a check/money order directly to our office. A tax receipt will be provided. Alternatively, you can consider donating outdoor equipment and supplies (e.g., backpacks, hiking shoes, sleeping bags, other camping equipment, etc.). We thank you for your support!

Calendar of Events


Feb. 16th 10a-3p @ Winding Trails, Farmington


March 2-3, 2-Day Cabin Camping w/  Outside Perspectives


April 6-7, 2-Day w/ Empower Leadership Sports


May 11-12, 2-Day Backpacking w/ Outside Perspectives


June 1, 1-Day w/ CAGE Fitness & Ju Jitsu Academy


June 29-30, 2-Day Backpacking w/ Outside Perspectives


Aug. 7-10, 4-Day Paddling w/ Outside Perspectives


Oct. 5, Summit on Non-Violence and Healthy Relationships with the Children’s Center on Family Violence **planning day on Sept. 14)