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

Charis

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.”

READ MORE

Kenzi

Born and raised in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, Kenzi Bowekaty joined the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project in 2019 as an agriculture and nutrition intern. She says it was the perfect opportunity for her; not only did she want to work with children, she grew up farming.

“Family members shared information about the job with me, and I was shocked, because it was my thing!” Kenzi recalls. “I grew up planting with my mother. It’s rooted in me. When I was Miss Zuni in 2017-18, I promoted agriculture in our community. It’s part of who we are.

“I wanted to carry on that work, so I applied for the position,” she continued. “It was everything I envisioned and more, teaching the kids about our language, our culture, and planting. It’s been so rewarding.”

READ MORE

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.”

READ MORE

Tiana

During the winter months at Zuni Pueblo, the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project provides instruction in traditional social dances at Zuni Middle School and Shiwi Ts’ana Elementary School. Leading the way is dance instructor Tiana Cachini, 22.

Tiana was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and she spent her childhood in Zuni before relocating with her family to Albuquerque. In the city, she had access to educational opportunities that broadened her horizons — and her interests.

“My mom was hesitant about public middle school, because she felt it would be too big,” Tiana remembers. “So she enrolled me at Horizon Academy West, a public charter school, for sixth grade. From there, I applied to the Public Academy for the Performing Arts.”

READ MORE

Kiana

While the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project regularly serves young people ages 18 and under, many people might not be aware that we also work with recent high school graduates. Through ZYEP, youth have the opportunity to serve as summer camp counselors — and sometimes, that journey with our nonprofit youth organization continues long after camp has ended.

Kiana Etsate-Gashytewa, 22, first worked with ZYEP in 2016. She had just graduated from high school, and she was spending the summer months in Zuni prior to leaving for university in September.

“My stepmom, Dawn Gashytewa, suggested that I help out with ZYEP Summer Camp, as I would learn a lot and have something to do before I left for school,” Kiana remembers. “At first, I was a bit hesitant, as I never worked with children… but I did have experience caring for my younger siblings and relatives.”

READ MORE

previous arrow
next arrow
Slider

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.