Creating a Brighter Future

“Youth Institute helps us become new, skilled people—people we are proud of."
- Youth Institute Participant

This is just one of the many positive sentiments shared by teens in the Whatcom Family YMCA’s college-and career-readiness program, Youth Institute.

Having been established and operated successfully for 20 years at the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, CA, Youth Institute is now spreading across the country, including teens in our own Whatcom County community. Youth Institute will create a brighter future for underserved, culturally-diverse, high school youth- teens who need us most.

The goals of the Youth Institute are:

  1. To improve academic achievement and stimulate interest in post secondary education among youth.
  2. To improve the technology, career, leadership and decision-making skills of these youth to promote readiness for post secondary education or career entry after graduation.
  3. To promote bonding to prosocial adults and community attachment among urban youth to ensure that they remain engaged in their schools and communities.
  4. To develop social and emotional skills in youth through multiple group and individual learning experiences.

Youth Institute: At a Glance

  • Wilderness Retreat: During an overnight retreat, students will focus on team building, bonding, and decision making skills while connecting with nature.
  • Technology Projects: Using platforms like Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, students will create videos, magazines and more with their teams.
  • Career Connections: Students will engage in college readiness activities through goal setting, guest speakers and campus tours.
  • Graduation: The program will culminate with a film festival and graduation during the 7th week.

General Program Info:

  • YI is provided at no cost to the participant.
  • Lunches and snacks provided daily.
  • Academic Credit (Amount dependent on school district).
  • Potential for transportation assistance.
  • FREE YMCA Membership while attending the YI program.
  • Upon successful completion of the YI program, graduates receive a $500 cash stipend.

2024 Important Dates:

  • February: Summer 2024 Applications open!
  • April 1: Summer 2024 Applications Close
  • February-April: Applicant interviews
  • May 1: Final Decision Date
  • May 3: Alumni Meeting (Required)
  • May 17: Program Orientation (Required for New Participants & Parent/Guardians)
  • June 7: Wilderness Retreat Info Session (Required for ALL Participants)
  • July 1-August 16: Program Dates, M-F, 10am-4pm
  • August 17: Graduation

*Due to limited capacity, we are not able to enroll every applicant. All applicants will take part in an interview process where they will learn more about the program and share about themselves. Once all interviews are complete, decisions will be made based on who will be the best fit for the program.