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.
Lafayette Empowerment Center
Co-Chair – Jaideep Mangat
A social studies teacher at Angevine Middle School, Jaideep is also a City Councilor for the City of Lafayette. Committed to bettering the lives of young people in Lafayette, he serves on several boards and has served the Lafayette Empowerment Center for many years.
Co-Chair – Samantha Kamin
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Samantha moved to Boulder, Colorado in 2010 to pursue her dream of mountain living. Having graduated from Naropa University with a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology, Samantha opened her private practice in 2016, dedicating herself to the support and growth of children and teens. With a support staff of two other therapists, she is able to work with clients toward overcoming challenges, empowering authenticity, and cultivating resilience. Samantha is also a new mother, and resides with her family of three (plus three fur children) in Lafayette, CO.
Secretary – Sarah Blackford
Sarah has been a BVSD Teacher for 14 years and has lived in the Lafayette community for 17 years.
Board Member – Kern Shahi
Born and raised in the Lafayette area and having attended Lafayette schools, Kern has a passion for working with Lafayette youth. He sees himself in the youth and wants to help provide a community that supports them.
Board Member – Caci Pippin
A 27 year old female, Caci holds a Master’s Degree in Literature and works at the University of Colorado Boulder as a Communication Liaison for the office of Strategic Communication and Relations. She also supports the local community arts by volunteering with other non profits such as the Arts Hub in Lafayette.
We are currently accepting applications for a Treasurer and two new board members.
Please reach out if you would like to be a part of our LEC Family: firstname.lastname@example.org
LEC Employee Team
Elizabeth has over 15 years of experience in the fields of youth leadership, business administration, program and curriculum development and youth-focused community organizing. Having served 9 years in the field of nonprofit directorship, she also has extensive experience in startup environments for youth programming. An active and hands-on community leader, Elizabeth spearheads numerous annual charity fundraisers and community events throughout the city of Lafayette and in service to other local 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations. In 2016 she developed a Zen Kids Ninja Academy, which has engaged over 2,000 Boulder County children throughout the years. Elizabeth is devoted to the reinvigoration of the Lafayette Empowerment Center, inspired by the platform to give youth a voice within the community.
Stephanie’s passion for nonprofit work began when she served as a co-founder for 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 is a member of the INVST Class of 2020-2022. She has been passionately involved in destigmatizing mental illness in the Latinx community for the past couple of years. 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.