In 2011 Carlos Castellanos set out to create an organization that provided kids an outlet to help them reach their greatest potential. With community service ingrained in him by his father, he set out with a handful of neighborhood kids and a backpack full of homemade flyers to create what is now YALD.
YALD has grown as an organization every year that it has been in existence. Our student participation has doubled, from 24 kids in our first year to a current 58 kids. YALD has had over 200 students enroll in its program in just 6 years. 80% of our participants have been a part of the program for 2-4 years. 90% of our participants have gone onto continuing education after graduating high school.
The YALD Flag Football League (YFFL) runs its program for 20 weeks. The amount of teams involved in the league has increased from 4 to 6. We host an annual All Star Game BBQ for all participants and their families, and an awards ceremony highlighting the season and recognizing its participants.
As a non-for-profit organization, YALD's accomplishments is a direct result of the yearly support from its active contributors, local businesses and fundraisers. YALD held its first “Empowering Our Youth Through Action” fundraiser in 2013. Since then we have held multiple fruitful fundraisers a year. All proceeds help us provide an optimal experience for all participants.
At the end of 2014 YALD officially became a certified 501(c)3 Non-for-Profit Organization, which paved the way for our growing success. With this new certification we were able to acquire sponsorship from three new organizations; Macy’s, Just Energy Foundation, and State Farm (MyAgentGladys) while still sustaining contributions from our core sponsors; Ice-Air, Tread’s Bike Shop, and Image Circle.
As the organization grows, so does it’s recognition. Many local businesses have joined in support of YALD because of the positive message it sends to the young adults in our neighborhood. Additionally, we have had the likes of Councilman Ydanis and former NFL star Tony Richardson as guests at our All Star games; the students felt honored to display their talents in front of such attendees. As an organization that emphasizes the importance of giving back, YALD also provides a platform in which our students are encouraged to participate in community service. One notable instance was our involvement with the Hutchinson River Restoration Cleanup. This was a great experience for all.
YALD’s committed volunteers have helped the organization strive to great success. Over the course of the last 5 years a group of 7 dedicated volunteers have aided the organization immensely. They've taken initiatives to further improve the quality of our work from taking coaching and safety licensing classes under the NFL USA football guidelines, to holding monthly meetings to discuss important topics affecting our youth today such as bullying, safe sex, discipline and the disadvantages of drug use.
In 2016 we initiated the YALD Youth Flag Football Clinic where we provide a 10 week clinic on fundamental football drills for kids of ages 8-11. We were thrilled at the overwhelming demand and excitement for this new venture; we had 15 participant sign-ups, rather than the 10 we initially expected. The participants' skill level increased on a weekly basis showing an eagerness to learn and perform. At the end of the year, all the participants were awarded medals for their accomplishments.