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

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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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Aidan

Many of the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project’s youth participants have been enjoying our programs and activities for years. One of those participants is 16-year-old Aidan Banteah-Yuselew.

Now a junior at Middle College High School, Aidan started coming to ZYEP as a child. He says he discovered ZYEP when he attended our annual Summer Camp; founded in 2009, we designed this camp to offer a positive, healthy alternative to a typical summer in rural Zuni Pueblo.

“That’s where it all started,” Aidan recalls. “It made me learn about being more friendly and social to people. I liked the activities, and having so much fun engaging with other kids my age.”

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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.