OUR COMMUNITY IS OUR STRENGTH.
WE ARE ZUNI.

OUR MISSION

Our mission is to promote resilience among Zuni youth, so they will grow into strong and healthy adults who are connected with Zuni traditions.


We pursue our mission by providing Zuni youth with positive role models, enriching programs, and nurturing spaces that build on the strengths of their community.

OUR impact

OUR stories

outcomes

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As August draws to a close, young people are heading back to school — including rising freshmen at the country’s colleges and universities. Among them is Matthew Cornelius Jr., a Zuni youth who is now attending Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona.

Born and raised in Zuni, Matthew attended our ZYEP Summer Camp and various Youth Sport leagues starting at age 8. He took a shine to baseball and eventually became ace pitcher for his Albuquerque school, leading St. Pius to a 15-2 season in his senior year.

Pima Community College recruited Matthew for its baseball team, and he was named 2021 Gatorade New Mexico Baseball Player of the Year. In addition to the Gatorade trophy, Matthew also received $1,000 for a charity of his choice. He chose ZYEP.

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The Zuni Youth Enrichment Project’s 2021 Summer Camp officially came to a close on Friday, July 16 with a special end-of-camp celebration. Joining the 65 campers and their families were 19 counselors, 22-year-old Kiara Zunie among them.

Kiara served as one of three lead counselors for this year’s Summer Camp, taking on a leadership role with the counselors and supporting the ZYEP staff behind the scenes. She says it was an incredible experience.

“I’m sad camp is over,” she says. “I shed a tear or two. The little campers were so precious, and it was an honor to give them the best summer experiences possible.”

This was Kiara’s third summer as a Summer Camp counselor. She first applied for the position in 2019, drawn by her love for children and her passion for helping others.

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Brittny Seowtewa says her passion for Native food sovereignty began with her grandfather. She just didn’t realize it until her family received some unfortunate news.

At the time, Brittny was three years into her college career at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. As she was coming to grips with the idea that she was no longer interested in what she was doing, she got word that her paternal grandfather had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

“I was very close to him, so I left school and went home to spend time with him,” recalls Brittny, now 28. “We had so many conversations, so many special moments, that helped me re-evaluate my life. He encouraged me to pursue my dreams — to go after what makes me happy. He was a turning point. We lost him a year later.”

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This spring, the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project was able to safely bring kids back together for an eagerly anticipated hybrid cross-country program. Thirty 6- to 11-year-olds signed up for the six-week session, participating in two virtual practices and one in-person race each week.

Charis Boone (pictured at left, in the purple hat) was one of 12 coaches hired to guide and mentor the six teams. A lifelong Zuni resident, she first became involved with ZYEP in 2019, when she was selected to serve as a Summer Camp counselor.

“I liked how ZYEP organized everything,” recalls Charis, 19. “During our training, we went on a four-day trip together. We went rock climbing, camping, and hiking. We really connected and got to know each other on a personal level.”

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Zachary

Zachary James, 19, was born and raised in Zuni Pueblo. At Zuni High School, he was heavily involved in student life, from baseball and football to student council and the National Honor Society.

When Zach opted to take a gap year following graduation, he sought new ways to continue that involvement in his community. He saw a job opening for an agriculture and nutrition intern with the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, and he knew that would be just the right opportunity.

“I always loved to do things outside, like planting with my grandpa,” Zach explains. He also noted that he thought highly of ZYEP as an organization, adding, “I was in the first group of ZYEP summer campers in 2009. Over the years, I watched it expand. Then (Executive Director) Joe Claunch and (Program Manager) Andrea Pepin came in and started offering more sports and youth programs.”

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outcomes

$8,000,000

Invested into the Zuni community since 2009, with a focus on helping Zuni youth lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

800

Youth served annually, across 10 distinct ZYEP programs. 80% of ZYEP youth participate in more than one ZYEP program per year.

90%

Of our youth report improved health as a result of participating in our programs.

92%

Of our youth participant’s parents report that participation improved their child’s overall health.