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



When Tre’ Riley was growing up in the Pueblo of Zuni, New Mexico, his little brother attended the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project’s Summer Camp. It was the first time Tre’ heard about the nonprofit organization, and while he was impressed with its work, he didn’t become a camper himself.

In fact, ZYEP didn’t become part of his life until after high school graduation. During summer 2017, as he was in the midst of earning his associate’s degree from Gillette College in Wyoming, Tre’ found himself searching for something more.

“I received a track and field scholarship to Gillette College, but I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” Tre’ recalls. “I knew I wanted to do something for my community. I took an elective class called Foundations of Education, and it gave me this idea that I could work with kids.”



Art has always been part of Cassandra Tsalate’s life. As a child, while her brothers pursued their own interests, she decided to try her hand at drawing. Then she started painting. This affinity for art, she says, was in her blood.

“I grew up in Zuni, inspired by my family of jewelry-makers,” said Cassandra, now 20. “My great-grandma made pottery. I actually wanted to go to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe after graduating from high school, but Covid came. So, instead, I took online classes in studio arts — painting and illustration. Eventually, I want to get into jewelry-making and ceramics.”

This summer proved to be a pivotal one for Cassandra, in more ways than one. She secured an internship at the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center in Zuni so she could pursue her interest in museum studies. She also is a Zuni Agricultural Grantee of the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, and she discovered ZYEP’s Emerging Artist Apprenticeship Program.



Twelve Native artists took home first-place awards at this year’s Bernalillo Indian Arts Festival in Bernalillo, New Mexico. One of them was 24-year-old LaShea “Shea” Harris, who participated in the festival through the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project’s Advanced Artist Apprenticeship program.

Shea took home the top prize in the “Personal Attire” category, in which she showcased her Zuni embroidery on a traditional kilt, vest and shirt. She says she was very surprised to win.

“I wasn’t feeling very confident, so it was nice to get this recognition,” she explains.



As the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project gears up for its most popular Youth Sport program, the annual basketball league, volunteer coaches from across the Pueblo of Zuni also are eagerly anticipating the start of the 2023 season on Mar. 20. One of those coaches is 17-year-old Alex Boone.

Alex was born and raised in Zuni. He first got involved with sports when Dr. Tom Faber, ZYEP’s founder, introduced him to soccer when he was 10 years old.

“It was such a good thing, because it showed me my full potential and what I could do physically,” remembers Alex, now a senior at Zuni High School. “Then I got involved in basketball, track and field, and football.



In March, eight young people from the Pueblo of Zuni had an opportunity to go backpacking in the Grand Canyon, a sacred site for the Zuni people. One of those young people was Lakin Epaloose, and his trip into the canyon marked the culmination of a journey that began years before, when he was a high school student.

Lakin grew up in Zuni. Although he started playing basketball in middle school, he said he was consumed by his schoolwork through his freshman year of high school. Then something changed.

“I suppose it stemmed from traumatic experiences,” he reflects. “To heal that pain, I wanted to make myself useful to the highest degree and provide opportunities for other young people to prosper.”


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


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


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


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