Project YES (dba) The Lafayette Empowerment Center


Established as a pilot program by Carole Macneil and Beth Krensky at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in 1991, the Lafayette Empowerment Center (formerly Project YES) sought to empower young people to use the arts as a vehicle for social change.

Inspired by their experience, participating youth became the driving force in developing the pilot into a nonprofit. In 1994, the organization relocated to Colorado, leading after-school arts and service workshops in various communities for several years.

Recognizing the need for after-school and summer programming, Project YES opened its youth center in Lafayette in 2000, initiated the Lafayette Service-Learning Partnership in 2001, and reintroduced its Art in the Community program in 2003.

In response to the economic climate, the organization closed the youth center in 2010, though maintained its innovative arts-based, service-learning programs in communities throughout Boulder County. 

To renew its commitment to Lafayette, which is often referred to as Boulder County’s most under-resourced community, the organization was refashioned and renamed in June 2016. 

Since then, the Empowerment Center has re-positioned itself as Lafayette’s predominant youth services agency, providing local youth with structured and sustained opportunities to tap their inherent capacities to create positive social change in their own lives and in the greater community.  

MISSION: Helping Youth Create Positive Social Change through the Arts, Community Based Learning & Leadership Opportunities

Consistent with the organization’s founding mission, The Lafayette Empowerment Center seeks to provide young people with authentic opportunities to matter—to form caring relationships, voice their opinions, and become civically engaged in their social worlds.  

Lafayette Empowerment Center Goals:

1) Empower young people, particularly those who face economic and/or cultural barriers, to emerge as engaged citizens and leaders;

 2) Promote a heightened interest in school, student retention, and access to post-secondary education and careers;

3) Reduce youth risk factors (as identified in local/regional reports); 

4) Improve access to critical resources and vital support services among “underrepresented” youth and their families; and

5) Contribute to a more inclusive and diverse community.


Co-Chair – Samantha Kamin

Secretary – Sarah Blackford

Treasurer- Caci Pippin

Board Member – Kern Shahi

Board Member- Stacy Howard

We are accepting applications for two new board members. 

Please reach out if you would like to be a part of our LEC Family:

Community Partners

Executive Director

LEC Staff

Stephanie Krucher

Executive Director

Stephanie’s passion for nonprofit work began when she co-founded a regional diaper bank in 2017.  With extensive experience in grant management, program coordination, and volunteer engagement, Stephanie is an active volunteer in the community. She serves on the boards of the WOW Children’s Museum and ECHO (East County Housing Opportunity Coalition). Before working in the nonprofit sector, Stephanie taught English as a Second Language for 9 years. Stephanie holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in English.

Mariam Lara

Program Assistant

Mariam is a member of the INVST Class of 2020-2022.  Mariam wants to normalize pursuing mental health resources. Mariam has found her voice as an advocate and cultural representative for her people. She transferred from Front Range to CU Boulder in the Fall of 2020 and joined INVST and PA (Public Achievement). Mariam finds hope in the younger generations talking about mental health more and exposing the toxicity of the machismo culture of keeping everything inside and putting on a strong front. Mariam studies sociology at CU Boulder in addition to pursuing the 2-year INVST Program and Public Achievement.