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.



As a child growing up in Gallup, New Mexico, Tara Wolfe had myriad interests, but with a few twists and turns, those interests eventually would converge in the nearby Pueblo of Zuni.

The child of a Zuni mother and Cherokee father, Tara grew up in what she describes as a fairly strict household. While her mother encouraged her to join activities that interested her, she stressed the importance of commitment, giving her best, and family.

“Whether it was basketball, bowling or dance, she never let me quit,” Tara remembers. “It always felt really good to finish what I started, though. That was a lifelong lesson and a core value in my family. This continues to resonate in my own ethics because of my mother’s teaching.”



Norene Lonasee still remembers her father’s guidance. As a young child, learning English was proving to be a challenge.

“My first language was Zuni, so I didn’t learn to speak English until first or second grade,” Norene recalls. “My dad told me, ‘It’s going to come to you. Just keep practicing.’ To help me learn, he bought me records and children’s stories on tape.

“We’d often be in the car, on the way to sell our turquoise and silver jewelry, and we’d listen to songs together,” she continued. “He taught me how to pronounce words, and he’d teach me new ones. After watching the nightly news or reading the paper, he would take down our globe and show me where things were happening.”



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.


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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.