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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Young Life

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Philanthropy, Voluntarism Promotion, Youth Development - Religious Leadership

Mission: The vision was born in 1938 when Jim Rayburn, a young youth leader in Texas, was challenged by his senior minister to focus on the local high school and pioneer a path to connect with non-churched kids. After exploring several possibilities, Rayburn decided that the best setting for the proclamation of the Gospel was at a Young Life club, held in the home of one of the kids. Club involved lively singing, a skit and a short talk about Jesus Christ. He believed every kid had a right to hear the message of Jesus Christ and decide how to respond to the Gospel. Young Life leaders provide kids with factual information for making good decisions. Leaders work hard to provide teenagers with the basic facts concerning Jesus Christ. The information is presented in a non-threatening manner in terms that kids can understand.Young Life leaders have the highest regards and respect for a young person's right to choose where matters of faith are concerned.

Target demographics: middle school and high school kids and college students.

Geographic areas served: all 50 states of the U.S. and in over 100 countries internationally.

Programs: Young Life's efforts to reach out to every kid, everywhere have resulted in a number of specific ministries. Each of these apply the basics of Young Life to meet kids just as they are through friendship and faith. In alphabetical order our specific ministries are: Capernaum: Young Life's ministry to kids with disabilities, named after the town where Jesus performed many miracles. College: Young Life's outreach to college students both in the U.S. and internationally. International: Young Life's outreach to high school and middle school kids in more than 100 countries around the world. Small Town/Rural: Young Life's ministry to kids in one-high-school towns of fewer than 25,000 people. Urban: Young Life's minsistry to racial and ethnic minorities, focused on kids who live in high-density communities and who are historically, socially and/or economically disadvantaged. WyldLife: Young Life's ministry to middle school kids. YoungLives: Young Life's ministry to teenage moms. Young Life provides healthy, creative fun. From weekly clubs to seasonal camping experiences to daily outings with leaders, Young Life is known around the world as an organization that knows how to have fun. Club meets once a week and has been described as "controlled chaos." Leaders combine songs, humor, and group interaction to create an hour of energetic fun where kids can express that teenage tendency to push the limits-but within the controlled context of a safe environment. Campaigners is the name for Young Life's Bible study program. Kids often meet in small groups with a Young Life leader during the week to discuss their ideas and question about faith and begin exploring the Bible. These groups were named from a term we've kept around since Young Life was called "The Young Life Campaign" in the early '40s. Camping is one of Young Life's specialties. Kids can discover adventure and prove their prowess by climbing through a ropes course in the tops of trees, barreling down a water slide from hundreds of feet up the side of a mountain, riding horseback along scenic trails, water skiing, parasailing, racing go-carts around muddy tracks and enjoying what Young Life leaders promise to be one of the best weeks of their lives.

Community Stories

160 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From having random kids show up at my house to share a meal to meeting kids at 7am (my usual wake up time) for breakfast and to talk about life and learn about Jesus to taking a week of vacation time to spend at camp with kids, Young Life is all about time spent in relationships with young people. I am a volunteer leader of high school kids and I can honestly say that the kids YL reaches in our area are the ones that seem unreachable. It breaks my heart to hear their stories. From eating disorders and self esteem issues to troubled family life to struggles with drugs and alcohol, these are not the kids that people expect to see at a "Jesus thing," but that is what I love about YL. The fundraising and the crazy activities, the small groups, the meals shared, the camp experiences, it all comes down to relationships with students and introducing them to Christ. One of my high school friends recently told me that even though life was still hard, she was so glad that she'd met Jesus, and that she always has someone to talk to about her troubles and her life. Another told me that she felt that she wants to give back to God all of the love that she has received from him and that she has learned through YL that the best way to do that is to love the people around her, even if she doesn't particularly like them. Yet another went to camp terrified of the ropes course, and of life. She conquered her fear of the ropes at camp through renewed faith in Christ, and came home a changed person. She is now the most outgoing in her group of friends and has encouraged others to step out in faith and stop hiding in their lives. Lives changed for the better through a relationship with Jesus: THAT is what YL is all about.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Young Life since my Junior Year of high school and am now a Senior in college. I have served as a volunteer leader for 2 yrs and was an active club kid, did Work Crew once and Summer Staff twice, I also served as an all Summer Property Intern at RAS this past summer. I have the resume when it comes to Young Life but that is not what matters. I do not share this information with high school girls upon meeting them at 7:20am at the high school. I meet them to develop a friendship with them and eventually share Christ with them. Christ loves compels me and Young Life has paved the way for me to do that. I have enjoyed the family and introduction to fellow members of the Body of Christ that Young Life has given me. My life in high school would not have been the same if not for Young Life and my life in college would not have been as fulfilling. Young Life has given me a practical way to live out my faith on daily basis, and spread the love of Christ to those I come into contact with.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

AMAZING!!! I came to know Jesus thur YL in high school and now I am a leader back at my high school. I cannto say enough great things about the ministry and I am suprized to read anything negative. Just this summer I led a trip to Ethiopia with Young Life and it was so amazing!!! I also took my YL guys to Wilderness Ranch in Colroado. I have never in my 10 years of being involved with the ministry had a single drop of dissappointment. Young Life is so great and reaches out to high school, middle school, and single moms both here in the states and around the world. I have never seen a ministry that has such a Kingdom focus!!!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's amazing how kids lives can be changed through a program like Young Life! We aren't "church", but we do share with kids about how much God loves them. We adults give them great friendship mentoring....and we love it! I work with the middle school students - they love having adult attention - and are so open to hearing about God's love for them. It gives them so much confidence to go through their middle school years knowing that!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I am on Young Life Staff and all I can say is we are human! We need Jesus just as much as the kids we are ministering to! I hate to hear some of the negative stories but I do know it comes with everything in all shapes and sizes I see it in other places to. But Young Life has impacted my ways in several different times- as a club kid in middle and high school to a volunteer leader and then married a staff guy after college! Now I am on staff and I will give this Non-profit a top notch for its involvement with women on staff! We are supported and encouraged! When I had my first child my boss helped me figure out ways so I could stay on staff and still do my part time job! I love hanging out with my high school friends, getting to know them and share with them about Jesus who loves them more than I ever could!!! I see Jesus working in kids lives daily- it is awesome as well as I see Him working through school teachers, youth ministers in our town, etc... We have a vision for the kingdom of Jesus and the kids in the MS Delta our trying not only to change their schools but community as well- trying to live out what a relationship with Jesus on this journey! Young Life may not be the right experience for everyone- but for kids in our community! We love them as they are and welcome them in! If they choose something else we still love them and encourage them to get involved with their local church!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 2

I would like to give some constructive criticism for this group that really does help a lot of kids. I just had a bad experience. I was in Young Life as a teen and as an adult, my husband and I were donors attending the local fundraising banquet each year. We were asked to be on the Committee, whose primary purpose is to raise money for the local group. My husband and I had served with many non-profits and felt this was a great group to be involved with. After being on the Committee for awhile I felt that the organization was TOO much about the money and not about the mission of serving the Lord. This feeling was justified when we had an enormous tragedy in our community with great loss of life. The evening of the tragedy, there was a fundraising meeting of the Committee. My husband couldn't go to the meeting, but I went thinking that a gathering of Christians was where I wanted to be so that we could pray together for the families of the dead and the injured. I went to the meeting, still stunned from the day's events and could not believe that the tragedy was not mentioned by anyone at the meeting. It was business as usual planning a fundraiser. At the end of the meeting, we had our usual prayer circle and as we went around the circle, people prayed for the success of the fundraiser, that there would not be rain on the day of the fundraiser and so forth. At this same hour, our community was holding a huge prayer service attended by thousands. At the Young Life Committee meeting, no words were spoken about the young people who had lost their lives that very day in our very own community until it was my turn to pray and I prayed for the families and the injured. I never attended another meeting. After that, my son entered high school and became involved in Young Life and he loved it. I was thrilled when he decided to go to Young Life Camp. He had a great experience and it made me thankful that Young Life was a part of his life. The next year, our family had a tremendously difficult year and my son wanted to go back to Camp where he felt he could help heal from the difficulties. We paid his fee for Camp and then he was told by his leader that he could not go a second time unless he recruited five more kids for Camp. Most of his friends were going on a cruise when school was out and would be partying and drinking. He did not want to do that. Everyone else he asked was already going to Camp. He ONLY recruited three kids instead of the REQUIRED five. He was not allowed to go. I could have gone to the Director whose Committee I served on and complained, but instead I went quietly to the office and picked up the refund for the Camp fee. I realized that the emphasis was on the numbers and perpetuating the organization. They needed NEW kids at Camp so that there would be a greater number of potential donors in the future. Since that time, I have never given one dime to Young Life. I would hope that most staff and volunteers of Young Life would act differently than our local group did on these occasions. I feel that we should be Christians first and if our intentions are good, we will be rewarded. I think the local group would have survived if they had prayed and served when appropriate and raised money when appropriate. For everything there is a season.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've loved Young Life and supported them financially for over 25 years. I want my grandkids to some day enjoy the same clubs, camps, Campaigners, work crew, etc that I've been blessed to experience. Young Life was a definite turning point in my high school life - to know Jesus in a personal relationship and worship Our Father in heaven. Please get involved in your local committee or support the ministry with prayers and financial gifts.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with Young Life for the past 7 years. During that time, I have taken high school students to summer YL camps, led weekly outreach clubs and Bible studies and weekend retreats. As one parent recently told me these have been "life changing" experiences for the students. Not only have I seen the lives of students changed, but these experiences have been life changing for me too as I have been challenged in my own faith.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter, now 27 years old,got involved with Young Life when she was a freshman in high school. OUr family was not familiar with Young Life prior to her involvement. As we explored this organization, we found a group of caring adults who befrined kids and help them stay on the right track by 'being there' for them. These volunteer leaders were 'the caring adult' outside the family for my daughter. Subsequently, our son also became involved stayed on a great path through highschool as well. Young Life is like a 'rudder' for kids. Our family has supported this organization since 1996. We have seen many kids make significant changes in their lives as a result of the support they received through Young Life.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life has changed my life and I've seen it drastically change others. Young Life is the best organization you could ever be a part of.