History of the Youth Institute

The YMCA of Rapid City Youth Institute was started in June of 2012, and was the  first Youth Institute outside of California, where the program was originally started. There are now Youth Institute sites in many states across the US and even some in Canada and South Africa. To read more about how the Youth Institute program was started check out this Link. Our first Youth Institute class of 2012 had just 10 teens in it. Last summer, our 5th year, we had 35. YI has grown and developed a lot in those 5 years, and we now have over 70 graduates of the summer program.

 

Our program is broken down into two main parts; the summer program which runs for 8-weeks in June and July, and the school year program that runs from September-May.

 

Summer Program:

Summer Youth Institute runs for 8 weeks Monday-Friday from 9:00-4:00. It is for Teens going into 7th-10th grade (older students may still be accepted on a case by case basis). The first week is always a camping trip. The purpose behind the camping trip is to get kids out of their element, to break down barriers and create deep friendships. Teens often refer to the Youth Institute as their 2nd “Family” after the camping trip. The remaining 7 weeks are full of the teens learning how to use programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, & Premiere. They also learn how to write a script, film, and edit a short film, do Photography, and writing/designing a magazine. We also focus a lot on personal growth, social skills, and professionalism.

 

During the summer program there are different levels for teens to go through. The first year they are a part of the new class. We take applications for up to 25 teens each year. Applications are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. If they decide to come back for a 2nd year and are accepted, they are considered an Alumni. Alumni focus on building up their skill set, as well as basic leadership skills. The third year program is split into two different directions. Alumni Specialist – building off of what they learned as an alumni, they get to choose a “specialty” area that they want to focus on for the summer. YI Staff meets with these teens to create a plan for them based on what they want to accomplish. The other option is a Mentor: Mentors are assisting with the new class -- a way for older teens to give back what they have learned and help the next class be successful while developing their leadership skills. Lastly, we are able to hire 2-3 teens who are at least 16-years-old to be staff for the summer. These are teens that have showed a great commitment to YI, have the skill set needed, and have completed at least 2 years of the program.

 

School Year Program:

Throughout the school year the Youth Institute is an after-school program for teens that have completed the summer program. YI is open every day after-school from 3:30-6:15, and 1:15-5:15 on early release days. During the school year there are lots of activities and projects that build off of what the teens learned during the summer. The main “curriculum” during the school year is what we call YI Badges. There are many topics to choose from, like: Photography, Illustrator, Video, Leadership, and Business Badges. The badges serve as a way for the teens to increase their skill set and as a way for us to measure their progress at YI. Teens can also apply for Perspective jobs based on the badges they have earned.

 

Summer 2012...

...Summer 2016

Youth Institute Staff

Kyle ZvejnieksYMCA of Rapid CityYouth Institute Site CoordinatorOn my fourth birthday, my mom caught me on home video trying to charmingly persuade her (with a very sly grin) that I was actually six years old and therefore should be allowed to use the brand new video camera (a camcorder as big as a briefcase!). Jump to middle school and I’m the family videographer.  Jump to high school and I’m teaching myself video editing, special effects, and making my own goofy teen movies. Jump to life after college and I’m getting the chance to make a few promo-videos for the organizations I work for.  But if only I had been in Youth Institute….

 

...You see, creative media didn’t just give me a path to express my own self, but it subtly nurtured in me life skills like goal setting, long-term planning, perseverance, adapting, trying again, patience, practice, attention in the details -- all the things required to make it through a long, messy process like filming to reach a rich and rewarding result.  Yet, I was largely on my own. I had little others to share this process with me, to join me in it. Little to encourage me, to push me, to support me, to connect with me.

 

In this way, Youth Institute is more than just a place to develop your creative media skills -- it’s a place to discover life skills and life strengths through long, messy processes.  A place to find adults and other teens to encourage your growth. A place to connect with others who share your interests. A community to support you and become new friends.

 

With an undergraduate and graduate degree in youth development, I’ve been working with middle and high schoolers for nearly a decade, and yet I can say that I’ve never been a part of something quite as unique as Youth Institute. Everyday I'm excited to be here, to work with the YMCA in investing in our teens’ lives, to support them and their futures…...and of course, to make some awesome media art.

Rebecca DeWittYMCA of Rapid CityYouth Institute Alumni DirectorMy name is Rebecca, I’ve been working at the YMCA of Rapid City Youth Institute for a little over 4-years now. I really enjoy working with teens, teaching them media skills and pouring into their lives. The past three summers, I have been the Alumni Director, working with the second year students, and some of the third year students. I really enjoy working with the Alumni because they have the basic skills down and are now ready to learn some of the more fun, advanced skills. While working at YI, I have developed my own lesson plans and curriculum for the summer program, as well as helped to write and develop a badge-earning curriculum that we use during the school year at YI. I try to push teens to do the best they can in their creative field.

 

As a teen, I wish there would have been a program like the Youth Institute for me to go to.  I was very excited about making short films and taking pictures to hang on my walls when I was that age, and a program like this would have really helped me develop my skills. However, the Youth Institute is not just about teens learning multi-media skills, it is also about learning leadership, making friends, and becoming a better person. I love working here, and making an impact on all the teens that come to be a part of the Youth Institute family.

 

A few years ago, Perspective, the Youth Institute social enterprise was created. I am very excited at what it’s become, and hope we can continue to develop it even further. It is a fantastic way to teach teens about having a job and running a business, and it helps them begin to see their creative talents as something they could do professionally one day.

Teen Stories

"Youth Institute has

changed my life..."

"The Youth Institute has impacted me because it taught me the importance of teamwork, friendship, and family."

 

-Alli Burmister YI Class of 2016

"I come to YI because I have a second family here. YI has changed me to become a better person, I have friends, and I standout here."

 

-Bee Blackbear Youth Institute Alumni

 "YI is basically an everyday thing for me. I found many friends, and I learned how to speak out in front of people and I got pulled out of my comfort zone. I come to YI because I have made so many friends here and I love to make graphic design on the computer. Because of the Youth Institute, I learned about what I want to do in my life."

-Ruth Stevenson  Youth Institute Alumni

In The News

Awards

March 2017 - Photography Digital by Vicki Kosack &T-Shirt Design by Nation Theis - Qualified for Nation Fine Arts Competition

 

May 2016 - "Homeless" & "Today's Life" chosen to screen at Black Hills Film Festival

 

October 2016 - Graphic Design by Ruth Stevenson - Chosen for Lifeways "Choose Art" Competition

 

March 2015 - T-shirt Design by Corbin Hayford - Qualified for National Fine Arts Competition

 

August 2013 - Received "Best Picture" 1st place New Class Film at the National Youth Institute Film Festival

 

April  2013 - Received 2nd place "Honorable Mention"  for TIE Film Festival

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Kyle ZvejnieksYMCA of Rapid CityYouth Institute Site CoordinatorOn my fourth birthday, my mom caught me on home video trying to charmingly persuade her (with a very sly grin) that I was actually six years old and therefore should be allowed to use the brand new video camera (a camcorder as big as a briefcase!). Jump to middle school and I’m the family videographer.  Jump to high school and I’m teaching myself video editing, special effects, and making my own goofy teen movies. Jump to life after college and I’m getting the chance to make a few promo-videos for the organizations I work for.  But if only I had been in Youth Institute….

 

...You see, creative media didn’t just give me a path to express my own self, but it subtly nurtured in me life skills like goal setting, long-term planning, perseverance, adapting, trying again, patience, practice, attention in the details -- all the things required to make it through a long, messy process like filming to reach a rich and rewarding result.  Yet, I was largely on my own. I had little others to share this process with me, to join me in it. Little to encourage me, to push me, to support me, to connect with me.

 

In this way, Youth Institute is more than just a place to develop your creative media skills -- it’s a place to discover life skills and life strengths through long, messy processes.  A place to find adults and other teens to encourage your growth. A place to connect with others who share your interests. A community to support you and become new friends.

 

With an undergraduate and graduate degree in youth development, I’ve been working with middle and high schoolers for nearly a decade, and yet I can say that I’ve never been a part of something quite as unique as Youth Institute. Everyday I'm excited to be here, to work with the YMCA in investing in our teens’ lives, to support them and their futures…...and of course, to make some awesome media art.

  • Kyle Zvejnieks - YI Site Coordinator

    Kyle ZvejnieksYMCA of Rapid CityYouth Institute Site Coordinator

    On my fourth birthday, my mom caught me on home video trying to charmingly persuade her (with a very sly grin) that I was actually six years old and therefore should be allowed to use the brand new video camera (a camcorder as big as a briefcase!). Jump to middle school and I’m the family videographer.  Jump to high school and I’m teaching myself video editing, special effects, and making my own goofy teen movies. Jump to life after college and I’m getting the chance to make a few promo-videos for the organizations I work for.  But if only I had been in Youth Institute….

     

    ...You see, creative media didn’t just give me a path to express my own self, but it subtly nurtured in me life skills like goal setting, long-term planning, perseverance, adapting, trying again, patience, practice, attention in the details -- all the things required to make it through a long, messy process like filming to reach a rich and rewarding result.  Yet, I was largely on my own. I had little others to share this process with me, to join me in it. Little to encourage me, to push me, to support or to connect with me.

     

    In this way, Youth Institute is more than just a place to develop your creative media skills -- it’s a place to discover life skills and life strengths through long, messy processes.  A place to find adults and other teens to encourage your growth. A place to connect with others who share your interests. A community to support you and become new friends.

     

    With an undergraduate and graduate degree in youth development, I’ve been working with middle and high schoolers for nearly a decade, and yet I can say that I’ve never been a part of something quite as unique as Youth Institute. Everyday I’m excited to be here, to work with the YMCA in investing in our teens’ lives, to support them and their futures…...and of course, to make some awesome media art.

  • Rebecca DeWitt - YI Alumni Director

    Rebecca DeWittYMCA of Rapid CityYouth Institute Alumni Director

    My name is Rebecca, I’ve been working at the YMCA of Rapid City Youth Institute for a little over 4-years now. I really enjoy working with teens, teaching them media skills and pouring into their lives. The past three summers, I have been the Alumni Director, working with the second year students, and some of the third year students. I really enjoy working with the Alumni because they have the basic skills down and are now ready to learn some of the more fun, advanced skills. While working at YI, I have developed my own lesson plans and curriculum for the summer program, as well as helped to write and develop a badge-earning curriculum that we use during the school year at YI. I try to push teens to do the best they can in their creative field.

     

    As a teen, I wish there would have been a program like the Youth Institute for me to go to.  I was very excited about making short films and taking pictures to hang on my walls when I was that age, and a program like this would have really helped me develop my skills. However, the youth institute is not just about teens learning multi-media skills, it is also about learning leadership, making friends, and becoming a better person. I love working here, and making an impact on all the teens that come to be a part of the Youth Institute family.

     

    A few years ago, Perspective, the Youth Institute social enterprise was created. I am very excited at what it’s become, and hope we can continue to develop it even further. It is a fantastic way to teach teens about having a job and running a business, and it helps them began to see their creative talents as something they could do professionally one day.