What is the Youth Institute?

The Rapid City YMCA Youth Institute is a program for teens in 7th-12th grade. At its core, Youth Institute is about giving teens the opportunity to develop creative media skills (such as Graphic Design, Filmmaking, and Photography), nurture life and character skills (leadership, team work, job prep, college prep), and discover meaningful friends and connections in a supportive community all along the way.


Our program was the first YI program to be established outside of California. We started in 2012 with about 12 teens. Now our Rapid City Youth Institute has over 100 teens who have been apart of the program over the years. The 2018 summer program goes from June 4th-July 27th and is a full 8 weeks. During the school year it is an after-school program for teens who have completed the summer program.


In August, we also offer the YI Mobile Camp: a 1-week mobile camp August 6-10 that jumps into the basics of Youth Institute skills using a smart phone or tablet!  Want to join?  Check out the Flyer & Application Below:

Summer Program

The summer program runs for 8-weeks, June through July. The first week is a camping trip. The remaining weeks are Monday-Friday from 9:00am-4:00pm.


Teens will learn the basics of programs such as: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign as well as how to write, film, & edit a movie, learn better photography skills, work as a team, and build deep friendships.

Each summer we accept 25 teens who are going into 7th-10th grade.

Teens can apply to come back for a 2nd or 3rd summer and continue to develop their skills in higher ranks!

2017 Summer Youth Institute

At the end of each summer program we take a select group of teens on a special reward trip! This past summer we went to Minneapolis, MN. We took a tour of the Twins Stadium, went to the science museum, tried out VR at Token Media, and spent a day at the Mall of America!

School Year

During the school year, the Youth Institute exists as an after school program for teens who have completed the 8-week summer program.

With the skills they learn, teens are able to come back for 2nd, 3rd, or 4th years to continue to improve and learn more, as well as use those skills to get Perspective jobs!

Teens are encouraged to come and continue to develop their skills learned during the summer program as well as learn new ones!

We do lots of fun projects and go on field trips throughout the school year. To keep up with our most current projects, check out our Youth Institute Facebook page!

Here are just a few pictures of some of our activities and projects during the school year!