Youth Empowerment for Success: YES, Sí Se Puede!

YES, Sí Se Puede! (YES - The Youth Empowerment for Success, Yes You Can!) was a community-based program for Latino student’s grades 6-8th from Alexander Hamilton Middle school in North Long Beach. It included ongoing year round activities that involved academic enhancement, physical fitness, violence prevention, cultural appreciation and health promotion activities. Project partners included California State University of Long Beach (CSULB) summer camps, Fairfield Family YMCA, Change Agents Productions (YMCA) and Alexander Hamilton Middle School. The eligibility criteria for participation in the YES program were: 1) identify as Latino, 2) academic, health and/or behavioral risk, and 3) context of risk (ie. at risk for obesity, diabetes and lack adequate access to health care, impoverished living).

The program was delivered at Hamilton Middle School, YMCA Youth Development Institute, and at CSULB by a full-time YMCA Outreach and Prevention Specialist, CSULB graduate student mentors and CSULB undergraduate volunteers. The program was provided to 3 cohorts of 34 students who each participated for 12 months, with a program total time span period of 3 years. The student participants attended weekly, monthly, and bimonthly activities (e.g. mentoring, tutoring, afterschool activities, workshops at the YMCA) and summer camp at CSULB. Parents also attended monthly workshops at CSULB with the student participants. 


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health 


  • Reached 152 at-risk students
  • Program delivered to 3 (year-round) cohorts of 34 or more students

The YES! Program results revealed the following changes in the at-risk youth sample. There were successful and significant changes in academics as measured by an increase in academic GPA. There were slight increases in disciplinary actions & unexcused absences, with a maintenance of English & Math CST scores, despite drop in Academic Performance Index for Latino students at Hamilton Middle School. The technology markers revealed there was a slight increase in computer access, internet access, and computer knowledge. The Psychosocial Health markers revealed a maintenance of levels of self-esteem & depression. The Health Behavior and Weight Status marker revealed increased important determinants of physical activity: self-efficacy & social support, significant decrease in percent body fat, lower proportion of overweight students compared to national and city data.

  • Signficant decrease in BMI percentile (t=2.81, p=.007)  
  • Signficant decrease in percent body fat (t=4.64, p<.001)  
  • At the 6-month follow-up, a significant increase in general self-esteem (t=-2.45, p=.03).  
  • Decreased sedentary activity 
  • Decreased external barriers to physical activity 

  • Outcomes for academic performance were mixed. 
  • 28% increase in GPA 
  • Pre to post standardized Math and English test scores decreased  

At post we found:  

  • Increased access to internet (z=-2.17, p=.03) 
  • Increased computer knowledge (t=-2.90, p=.005).  
  • Cultural enrichment:  
  • No statistically significant changes noted.