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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When Kaleia Vicenti attended ZYEP’s first Summer Camp in 2009, she was just 7 years old. She didn’t know what to expect; her family didn’t either. They couldn’t have imagined that those engaging summer weeks would turn into an enduring relationship with the youth project, one that would have a lasting impact on three generations of the Vicenti family.

Kaleia, now an 18-year-old freshman and collegiate runner at Trinidad State Junior College in Colorado, recalls that she enjoyed learning about nutrition and the Zuni language at Summer Camp — and she fell in love with the physical education activities. She soon transitioned to ZYEP’s Youth Sport programs, playing soccer, basketball, and even football.

“The first year of soccer, we lost every game,” remembers Stephanie Vicenti, Kaleia’s mother, with a laugh. “We had no clue how to cheer, or how the game was played. But we learned a new sport with each other. We’ve gotten close with all the families. It’s been exciting to watch each other’s kids grow.”

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When 24-year-old Dylan Solomon first started working with the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, he had no idea it would lead him to his passion — and light the way toward his future. In 2015, he had just graduated from high school, and he applied to be a ZYEP Summer Camp counselor.

“I saw it as something to do before college,” recalls Dylan, who was born and raised in Zuni. “It would take up my time, and I could earn some money.”

One Summer Camp turned into several. This year, Dylan commemorated his sixth summer with ZYEP, and he served as lead counselor and lead food sovereignty specialist.

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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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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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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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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.