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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In youth work, we often talk about the importance of positive role models in the lives of children. We also know that it can be difficult to fully understand the impact such a role model can have — until you hear a story that drives it home. Meet Chant Life.

When Chant was in elementary school, his family moved from Philadelphia to the Pueblo of Zuni, his mother’s community. He immediately engaged with his home, learning the language and life ways so he could, as he put it, “learn how to be a good Zuni person.”

He also wanted to pursue his passion for football. That, unfortunately, was a dream that seemed out of reach.

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For Elroy Natachu Jr. and Kandis Quam, the decision to join the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project this year was not a difficult one to make. The 31-year-old cousins, born just a month apart and raised in Zuni, are working artists and business partners — and the nonprofit youth organization is in the process of launching an art apprenticeship program that will give young people the artistic and business skills they need to create thriving art careers of their own.

As in so many Zuni families, art is an intergenerational calling that is deeply rooted in the culture. Natachu’s father is a silversmith, and his mother works with textiles; as a boy, he said he also was exposed to pottery and traditional cooking.

“I had my hands in a lot of things,” he recalled. “I used a sewing machine for the first time at the age of 10."

Quam’s parents and grandparents are artists. Most of the family, she explained, are either fetish carvers or jewelers.

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The Pueblo of Zuni is filled with people who seek to share their knowledge with the community’s precious youth. The next generation will carry on Zuni culture and traditions, so we must give them the support they need.

“At ZYEP, our staff and community partners are dedicated to providing that support so our children will understand exactly who they are and where they come from,” says Shelley Edaakie, ZYEP’s office coordinator. “We put our children first in our work,” she continues, “because many haven’t had the same experiences I did growing up in Zuni.

“At ZYEP, our staff and community partners are dedicated to providing that support so our children will understand exactly who they are and where they come from,” says Shelley Edaakie, ZYEP’s office coordinator. “We put our children first in our work,” she continues, “because many haven’t had the same experiences I did growing up in Zuni.

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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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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.