YES Programs



18 Inspirational Alumni Grant Projects Positively Impacting Our World!

A huge group of people look excited and raise their hands

It’s that time of year again for YES Alumni Grants! The YES Alumni Grants application will be open from December 14, 2018 through February 11, 2019. The competition is open to all alumni of the YES and YES Abroad programs. Are you eager to conduct a project, but need some inspiration? Here are 18 projects to learn from! 

Perhaps you are not a YES alum, but we still hope that you will find cheer in the positively impressive and inspirational ways YES alumni are changing our world for the better. Read on for heartwarming YES alumni grant briefs!

Also, we have two webinars lined up to help you put your best application forward!

A Grants Program Overview webinar with special guest alumni discussing their experience conducting a grant project was held on December 11, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

A Grants Proposal Writing webinar was held on December 18, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Learn more about the Grants Proposal Writing webinar here.

The YES Alumni Grants program funded 18 grants which were conducted over the past year by alumni in the following 15 countries: Algeria, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, United States, and West Bank.

Conflict Resolution

Lamina holds a Little Leaders Sign
Little Leaders

Lamia Lahrech, (YES ’05) Algeria, hosted by Nacel Open Door in Milford, NH, received a YES alumni grant for The Little Leaders, an educational peace camp promoting mindfulness, peace, and civic engagement for 25 children ages eight to 12. The program aimed to empower young leaders to serve their communities in the future by teaching the techniques of nonviolent communication, meditation, and conflict resolution. 


Numanu Andani, (YES ’10) Ghana, hosted by ACES in Worthington, OH, received YES alumni grant funding to conduct Aren't Our Perspectives of Education All Wrong?. This project (pictured at the top of the article) partnered with the youth organization Numanu helped found, Northern Voices Ghana (NVG), to provide education and career guidance to students from ten high schools in the northern region of Ghana. The project team met with over 4,000 students to give visual presentations and speeches on how to make the best out of high school education, what to expect after high school, possible scholarships and sources of funding, and how to find motivation to commit themselves to their education. 

People sit around a conference table discussing critical thinking
Dream Maker Institute

Mifta Sugesty, (YES ’09) Indonesia, hosted by PAX in Ballston Spa, NY, received a YES alumni grant to found The Dream Maker Institute, a creative learning center for youth in Aceh, Indonesia. The Dream Maker Institute provides classes and resources aimed at developing critical thinkers and social justice-minded youth leaders and entrepreneurs. The institute hosts professional training in youth empowerment, social entrepreneurship, non-formal education, social impact measurement, organizational development, and social justice for 250 youths ages 15-30.

Amara Kamara, (YES ’13) Liberia, hosted by AYA/AIFS in Winter Haven, FL, conducted the YES alumni grant project Youth Rise from in partnership with the Youth Positive Transformation Initiative (YOTPI). Amara and his team hosted a two-day workshop for 300 youths in Gbarnga, where attendees were educated on civic responsibility. By increasing the civic knowledge and capacity of youth, YOPTI hoped to increase youth participation in the upcoming local elections.

In a brightly colored classroom, students stand behind a round table
RAMP Book Group

Madison Krieger, (YES Abroad ’15) United States, hosted by AFS in Surabaya, Indonesia, received grant funding to conduct RAMP Book Group. Madison and another non-alumna colleague developed a book club for children of immigrants at a middle school to help with their reading, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. The seven-week program was built around the study of four books focused on themes of diversity, social justice, peace and conflict, and immigration.


Plamena Solakova, (YES ’10) Bulgaria, hosted by PAX in Richland, WA, received YES alumni grant funding to lead Entrepreneurship as a Reflection of Female Empowerment, a four-day workshop on human rights and women’s role in business for 11 young women under the age of 25. The first three days consisted of professional development training and discussion to teach participants how to launch successful careers. On the fourth day, Plamena organized a panel of accomplished female guest speakers, including the Deputy Mayor of Silistra.

A photo of feet with leather flipflops
The Shoe Designers

Nendi Lukolm, (YES ’06) Nigeria, hosted by IRIS in Washington County, IA received grant funding to conduct The Shoe Designers, a project that trained 30 youths aged 15-25 in the art of shoe making with a three-month series of workshops. The aim of the project was to help the youths of Jos who were unemployed and not in school to acquire a skill that could give them a means to earn a living.

Interfaith and Strategic Dialogues

Tolerance Ambassadors
Five Tolerance Ambassadors next to a YES banner

Coskun Islek, (YES ’10) Turkey, hosted by AFS in Eau Claire, WI, hosted Tolerance Ambassadors. As intolerance is on the rise in Turkey, Coskun and his team organized a week-long tolerance-themed camp for 20 high school students from 13 different cities across Turkey. The project team designed and implemented a curriculum that facilitated participants’ understanding of the roots of conflict through hands-on activities, simulations, and group work.

Monique Jafta, (YES ’14) South Africa, hosted by AFS in Kendallville, IN, received a YES alumni grant to hold a Gender Equality Information Session at the University of Free State in Bloemfontein. The keynote speaker was Zane Thela, a transgender man who works at the human rights office at the university. The session, attended by 150 students, defined what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and intersex, and educated participants on the LGBTQI community. 

People stand in a line blindfolded doing a trust exercise
Transforming Community Ability to Capability

Sarah Mae Ismael, (YES ’06) Philippines, hosted by AYA/AIFS in Holton, KS, implemented a YES alumni grant project called Transforming Community Ability to Capability (TCA2C) in Barangay Taluksangay, an underserved Muslim indigenous community of 8,500 in Zamboanga. Sarah and her team partnered with YOUTeacH Zamboanga and Global UNITE Youth Network to provide training and awareness sessions in response to community issues brought to the team’s attention by the local government. The information and training sessions targeted various subgroups in the community, including interfaith dialogue with tribal leaders, youth leadership and teambuilding training, illicit drug awareness, HIV awareness and prevention seminar with members of the LGBTQ+ community, and a seminar on family planning.

Unite The World
Unite the World group photo in front of ruins

Houcine Jedli, (YES ’16) Tunisia, hosted by AYUSA in Ocala, FL, led the YES alumni grant project Unite the World, a five-day summer camp in Kasserine for 25 high school and college students, ages 16 to 19. The camp aimed to provide attendees with leadership skills and engage them in activities that promote world peace. Strengthening a  network of  critical thinkers and peacemakers was the project’s main goal. 

Professional Development

Busra Kiriscioglu, (YES ’13) Turkey, hosted by AYA/AIFS in St. Cloud, MN received grant funding to hold an Alumni Career Development Day in Istanbul. As part of the event, five older alumni shared their career and professional experiences with about 20 high school-aged alumni and university students who haven't yet graduated. The high school alumni had the opportunity to speak with the university student alumni to learn about their majors and university life, and the alumni attending university benefited from speaking with more experienced professional alumni who are already in the workforce.

Promoting the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

Dare To Dive participants stand in swimming gear in front of a pool
Dare to Dive

Alhaji Mohammed, (YES ’08) Ghana, hosted by AFS in Alexandria, VA, conducted Dare-To-Dive. This yearlong project, delivered swimming lessons provided by professional instructors to 60 students with visual, mobility, and hearing/speech disabilities at the University of Ghana in Accra. The project trained and equipped participants with swimming skills, as well as provided motivation via inspirational guest speakers and trainers to enhance self-confidence and independence.

Public Health

A huge water tank in the bed of a pickup truck
Water Harvesting Project

Anne Ndegwa, (YES ’11) Kenya, hosted by PAX in Tuscaloosa, AL, received grant funding to conduct a Water Harvesting Project. The project team set up a water tank and filtration system at the Global Hope Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre to harvest rain water to be used during periods of drought. The Centre houses 80 children who were rescued from homelessness and were previously afflicted by poverty and drug addiction. The water tank and filtration system provides the Centre with water for domestic use as well as for gardening and agricultural endeavors for subsistence.

Sustainable Development

Akash Kumar, (YES ’15) India, hosted by AFS in Mesa, AZ, and two fellow YES alumni finished their yearlong YES alumni grant project SDG Society. The project aimed to raise awareness and induce action among youth surrounding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The project team designed training modules and implemented workshops about the SDGs in more than 30 schools in New Delhi, Delhi; Gurugram, Haryana; and Singrauli District, Madhya Pradesh. 

People stand in a circle watching someone draw on the ground

Chintan Mehta, (YES ’13) India, hosted by AFS in Corrales, NM, carried out EduSol, a project designed to educate middle school students about the emerging field of renewable energy with a focus on solar energy. Through presentations in and around Bangalore, he got 300 students, ages nine to 15, excited about solar energy through activities like a solar car race, lighting an LED, and charging USB devices with solar energy to see firsthand how solar energy is harnessed.

Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment

Four photos of women working
ANA Means "ME" in Arabic

Ahmad Ladadweh, (YES ’13) West Bank, hosted by PAX in Bennington, VT, the project ANA Means "ME" in Arabic, which consisted of a series of workshops focusing on women’s empowerment and leadership for 16 female students from Birzeit University. The workshops aimed to raise participants’ awareness about women rights, teach them self-defense techniques and how to treat their body, and provide lessons in basic life and professional skills.

For more information on the YES Alumni Grants program, contact [email protected].