History of the YES! Fund
YES! stands for Youth Empowerment for Success. For more than 20 years, the YES! Fund has played a vital role in funding programs with significant opportunities for boys and girls of every age, ranging from academics to athletics to the arts.
In 1993 Dr. Clark Reinke, Associate Superintendent of our Schools, wrote:
“Never before have I sensed a greater interest or concern in the youth of our community. Much of this heightened concern stems from things that are disturbing to us, such as youth violence, crime, and apathy towards school and our community.”
Dr. Reinke talked about the complaints from downtown and Aggieville regarding kids with nothing to do hanging around after school. We heard the same complaints from the University about kids camping out in the student union—even on weekends. And the police said too much unproductive and unsupervised time outside school hours was leading to increased vandalism.
An ad hoc committee was formed in 1993 to talk to our kids and find out what they were thinking. The message we received from our young people was clear: “Manhattan cares about college students, but it doesn’t care at all about us.” Many said as soon as they could, they would leave Manhattan.
We don’t hear that anymore—and we shouldn’t want to hear that again. Today, the YES Fund supports a wide variety of opportunities for young people. For the past 20 years all the activities, projects, and opportunities supported by the YES Fund have been aligned with the needs of our kids and associated with our schools—and for good reason. There is a direct correlation between a young person’s involvement and success at school and their success, wellbeing, and life in this community. That’s why all proposal applications of the YES Fund activities are received and studied by the YES program advisory board. Our top three educators on the board, Dr. Mike Holen, retired Dean of the KSU College of Education, Dr. Bob Shannon, Superintendent of Schools USD 383, and Dr. Debbie Mercer, Dean of the KSU College of Education, lead the board in a review of grant proposals and recommendations for funding.
Manhattan is a wonderful place to live—but we’re not seeing the whole picture if we don’t admit it’s a lot better place for some people than it is for others. We’ve been very lucky in Manhattan. We have very, very good schools. We can be proud that our schools continue to perform at such a high level, even as the educational expectations, and academic bar continues to rise.
Our Superintendent of Schools Bob Shannon says, “The YES Fund has played a significant role as a source of funding for after-school programs, summer enhancement programs, and parent involvement programs.”
These programs are critical in boosting youth development and academic success in school. After-school programs are critical in boosting youth development and academic success in school. Kids participating in these programs have better school attendance, work better toward goals, make better decisions, and have a better relationship with teachers and authorities. Students in the KSU College of Education play a vital role for our kids. Each year there are approximately 400 university students studying to be teachers.
Each student must perform 40 hours of volunteer work—from coaching to tutoring kids in our schools to working directly with various organizations— and many provide volunteer services for YES! Fund-supported programs. The teachers and administrators in our schools have great ideas that their budgets don’t allow them to pursue. The YES! Fund helps turn those ideas into realities.
The YES! Fund is a component fund of the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation. The Greater Manhattan
Community Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity (EIN 48-1215574) incorporated in the state of Kansas