Youth Development Organization

YDO provides Lawrence youth—Grades 3 & up—with exceptional afterschool and summer learning opportunities, focused on STEM and the Arts, and access to a vibrant community of young leaders: YDO Kids. Since 2006, we have been delivering more than just “one-off” academic enrichment classes. We engage young people early, often, and consistently over time, coupling hands-on learning and leadership development with intensive personal support. To remove barriers to their success, we provide our students with transportation to/from our programs and those of our community partners.

At YDO, youth explore creative interests with classes like Photography, Improv, or Ceramics. Students as young as eight get early exposure to STEM with introductory classes like Coding or Math Games. Older students develop from first time experimenters to self-directed innovators in our hands-on science and engineering lab, with advanced courses like Halloween Animatronics or Toy Engineering. Elementary school students can stay engaged year round through YDO Summer, with enrichment courses designed and led by older YDO Kids. And, if another youth program in Lawrence or beyond can offer our students a unique learning or leadership opportunity that we cannot, we forge a partnership to provide our participants with access, transportation, and support to ensure they make the most of the experience.

YDO’s approach is unique in Lawrence and centers on the power of a pathway. When YDO Kids demonstrate a commitment to our organization, we develop highly personalized pathways for them and help them stick to those paths year after year. We deliver courses designed to build and connect to one another and to students’ talents and interests. As YDO Kids grow, we empower them to step into teaching, mentorship, and leadership roles in our organization. Robust academic enrichment coupled with highly individualized, long-term support is done with a goal in mind—to send Lawrence youth into the world equipped with a vision for their future and a resume and network to fuel success.

This is Hestia’s 6th year funding YDO. Hestia’s grant of $25,000 will support the early stage succession planning for their after school programs in Lawrence.