YES! stands for "Youth Experiencing Success"

Given their circumstances, many inner-city teens feel hopeless about their future. We seek to change this bleak view of life.

YES!Atlanta's programs, Rising Star and Coaching for Success, are built around these core concepts and life-altering imperatives:

My future can be different from what I see all around me

Turning my possibilities into realities is really up to me

Changing my future requires a firm commitment to my personal goals

I must ask for support when I need it, accept support when it's offered, and support others when I can.

Letting go of past hurts frees me to look ahead to my brighter future

Here are our Program Objectives

  • Increase academic skills and performance
  • Reduce self-defeating behaviors
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Raise graduation rates of inner-city schools
  • Improve relationships with family, peers, and other adults

We created Rising Star in 1990. Its unique and critical component is the 4-day Youth Intensive Course, where, at an out-of-town location, teens aged 14-18 are professionally guided in extensive discussions focused on where they are in their lives today, what they want for their future, and what they must commit to do now to bring this about. Based on these considerations, they are asked to make specific, reasonably attainable commitments for self-improvement in areas such as school performance, parental relations, and reduction of self-defeating behavior.

During the Intensive, while engaging in team-building and personal confidence exercises, teens are taught and practice an all-important empowering procedure for dealing positively with their inevitable mistakes and broken commitments. At the conclusion of the Intensive they are paired with a trained adult volunteer mentor we call a Committed Partner who becomes the "wall" around the Rising Star's personal commitments. For about a year, the Committed Partners (adult and teen) will meet face-to-face for at least an hour per week, and communicate often by phone or the social media - always asking the question "What are you doing to achieve your commitments?" .

Coaching for Success is a less expensive offshoot that was created in 1993. It is a partnership with the Fulton County Juvenile Court that refers teens to us as an alternative to adjudication. We provide tutoring in a variety of high-school subjects and group-based mentoring. The program at this time does not include a Youth Intensive.

Another site is at the Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership Academy, a part of the APS system. There, 8th grade girls meet with mentors from an Oglethorpe University sorority on Friday afternoons during the school year. They talk about how paying attention to YES!Atlanta's five cornerstones can have a positive impact on their lives and their future.

Monthly group meetings are an important element of our programs. These encourage open sharing of problems that have come up for the adults and teens and solutions that benefit everyone. The process of building mutual trust is slow, but the resulting relationships often last longer than a year.

Knowing the cost to both youth and society of dropping out of high school, we support all teens in moving toward earning a diploma or a G.E.D. certificate by offering tutoring by volunteers for two hours per week in a variety of basic subjects.

As the names Rising Star and Coaching for Success suggest, all of this activity is directed toward having the youth grow into fulfilled and contributing adult members of their community.


Read about Simeon in our Blog

LaMontae said this about Gordon, his Committed Partner: "He was very valuable to me. I was able to learn about colleges, how to complete a college application, find scholarships, and improve my writing skills. I was also helped with studying for the SAT and the ACT." LaMontae is now freshman at Georgia State University, the first of his family to go to college.

Interested in starting a similar program in your area? Contact our Executive Director, Mary Mitchell

Kurtis and Darnell

Kurtis Bush is a 24-year-old student at Georgia State University. He finds much fulfillment in mentoring, calling it "an amazing experience". Recalling that he was a bit nervous when entering the Coaching for Success program, Kurtis says that he and his Committed Partner Darnell have already learned much from each other during their six-month relationship, becoming like brothers. Both of them have grown as a result.

As Kurtis explains, "Darnell's youth and playfulness helps offset my somewhat reserved and stern personality and occasional tendency to procrastinate. I am inordinately proud of Darnell. He is really taking in what I am offering him and applying it to his life. He has dug deep to find ways to improve his grades and overall school performance. I consider us a team and look forward to many more accomplishments together."

"It's such a huge blessing to be able to make a difference in someone's life, and I want to thank Darnell for being such a blessing to me".

(Read more about this relationship on our Blog)

"...I liked being in Rising Star because they really encouraged me to do something with myself. I got into fights a lot - my commitment starting in the program was not to fight. And now I don't fight! I take responsibility and I walk away from it. What's different? I made a commitment not to fight. My Committed Partners and all YES!Atlanta people have supported me in keeping my promise."

Cherise with Committed Partners Julie Witt and Michael Halpern in 1990

Update 2014: Cherise has enrolled her two teenage daughters in Rising Star XIV


 PO BOX 54692
  Atlanta, GA 30308

Email to Dottie Wimberly

Program Director

Email to Mary Mitchell

Executive Director