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YES prioritizes student learning opportunities and embeds academic enrichment into all of its programs. YES especially values the research and experiential learning projects that youth produce as members of The Youth Civic Leadership Academy (YCLA) and Summer Learn and Earn programs. Students’ hard work, creativity, and intellectual curiosity are highlighted in the work products below. 

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Youth civic leadership academy


As young civic leaders, YCLA youth are tasked with identifying a civic challenge in Pittsburgh and developing a feasible solution. Youth leverage insights from the local city departments and civic experts to help create implementable plans. In addition to youths’ research projects, YCLA youth have opportunities to reflect on their experiences on a local youth radio station and generate short stories about their lived experiences in Pittsburgh. These opportunities allow young people to lead the way,  offer their unique perspectives and insights, and serve as changemakers. Below are examples of these youth-centered work products. 



Through YES’ Learn and Earn program, students research, analyze, discover, and propose solutions to real problems in their communities. This process includes a Youth Engaged Participatory-Research (YPAR) project in which students identify a local problem and an associated research question, formulate a hypothesis, administer their own surveys of local community residents, and analyze and draw conclusions from the data. These projects are driven by students' individual curiosity and vary across program tiers - Summer Scholars, Advanced Summer Scholars, and YES Vets. Regardless of program tier, all youth learn & practice empirical social science research methods and present their respective project findings to community stakeholders at a culminating symposium.

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