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.