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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

27 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

9

Donor

Rating: 5

I cannot think of a better non-profit to give your money to that truly makes a lasting and even eternal difference in your community. As a donor for many years now I have always felt privileged to partner with such a great organization with equally as great people. Never mind the nay-sayers out there. The same way one may misinterpret the intentions of a person, the folks who dislike YL have merely misinterpreted the intentions of the organization. The entire organization strives everyday to emulate Jesus in what they do by being friends and mentors to teenagers and experiencing life along side of them, the same way Jesus did with his friends. All in all, I have loved giving both money and time to Young Life and will continue to do so.

Review from Guidestar

19

Donor

Rating: 1

be warned of this organization. My wife and I are now dealing with a son who has spent all of his college money volunteering for YL, is making horrible grades, is showing cult like behavior, has turned his back on all of his friends, roommates and us. It is a disaster. We have lost our son to this cult disguising as a Christian organization when I now see that it is just a cult where those at the top are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and the organization is worth millions. Young Life is the devil hiding in Jesus clothing. Read this thread: http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?14,15330,page=1

Review from CharityNavigator

3

Donor

Rating: 5

Young life is a remarkable organization that reaches out to middle and high school teens and builds relationships . These friendships are characterized by adults(usually mature high schoolers working with the middle schoolers and post college volunteers working with high schoolers) who encourage, accept unconditionally and "walk the walk" of integrity and love for God. I've watched the impact of this organization for 33 years and seen not only teens but their families as well impacted for good.

Previous Stories
3

Board Member

Rating: 5

My husband and I have been associated with Young Life for 35 years or more as donors,parents of club and campaigner kids and committee. We've seen direct evidence of the "fruits" of this ministry in our own children"s lives as well as the lives of hundreds of other teens and their families. I've often heard it said that the one requirement for a Young Life person is laughter. Jesus Christ is always glorified... in the laughter, the lives changed, the relationships built between leaders and kids, relationships transformed between kids and parents, kids and families, kids and their friends. The more you know of Young Life, the more you'll want to be involved.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

I am writing to communicate my delight with this organization. Young Life is a non-denominational outreach to Jr and High School students with the message hope through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a mother of children who have been involved since Middle School, and continue now in High School I am grateful to the organization. It is wonderful to have volunteer leaders who spend time in my child's world engaging with them and their friends in a positive and encouraging way when my daughter or son have a victory or a challenge in their life, the Young Life leader is one of the first people they encounter to share with. As a Christian mom, it is wonderful to know there is another caring christian adult who would take time to love my children. Our Young Life community is supported by local businesses, Catholic and Protestant Churches, and individuals like myself. We enjoy going to fund raising events where parents can hear from students, volunteers and staff about Young Life and the impact it is having in my community. It is particularly special that many children have the opportunity to experience a spiritual journey in an environment that is not judgemental and does not emphasize what sacrament, or doctrine or theology separates the body of Christ. Rather, it emphasizes the child's ability to think, reason and conclude for himself or herself what her thoughts are about God. I would recommend to any parent the Young Life experience.

13

Donor

Rating: 5

Young Life has been a part of my life for over 35 years. I have seen my children's lives changed through their involvement, my husband's life challenged to growth, and my own... just learning who I was and how I was gifted! They continue to have a huge impact on kids' lives through every stage of their lives. Now, at 76, my main involvement is financial and I will continue to support it until the day I die!!

11

Donor

Rating: 5

My experiences with Young Life range over a 25 year period. I have served as a volunteer with kids and later as a staff person. I have found that lifelong friendships are built between kids and adults that help some kids survive & thrive where otherwise they would have gone down dangerous dead end roads. Currently I work with poor, neglected and misdirected kids. I try to help young adults of privilege connect and care for these kids. I love how Young Life leaders enter in to kids lives right there on the street, at the skate park or in the tutoring classroom. I see lives change as a result of this "go & befriend" work. I see young adults who are learning to forsake a selfish life to care for teens who seriously need love & direction. Young Life builds mentoring friendship, not programs. So be ready to give yourself away in a good way.

12

Donor

Rating: 5

This organization is making an incredible impact on youth worldwide! Kids are allowed safe places to have fun, grow in who they are and grow in the Lord. There is nothing like Young Life!

11

Donor

Rating: 5

I have found Young Life to be an amazing organization for teens. I was involved in Young Life as a high school kid in Chicago. I have volunteered with Young Life in the Denver area for 20+ years. Year after year, I hear stories from kids whose lives have been changed from the adult leaders, summer camp experiences and weekly meetings. The adults show up at the kids' school events and develop a personal relationship with each teen. The time adults spend hanging out with the kids is lasting and meaningful. These adults go to where the kids hang out instead of expecting the kids to show up where they are. The kids realize that they have another adult in their lives that cares. I highly recommend Young Life.

12

Donor

Rating: 5

I became aware of Young Life while in college in the 1980's. I was invited to go on month long work crew to serve at a YL camp. There I worked along side kids who had come to know the Lord thru YL. I experienced the result of the ;ministry, not the how. I saw that however these folks are doing it, works! So I began to see how the took the Gospel to kids. Incarnational Evangelism, built on relationships. That's how Young Life reaches the furthest out kids.

8

Donor

Rating: 5

Two teens started in Wyldlife then onto YL. They loved the fun and grew in their faith and leadership skills toward lives of significance. The role models of the YL staff and High School leaders was invaluable in shaping their world view.

7

Donor

Rating: 5

They get it. Jesus is life and they focus on Jesus which I think is the transformational figure in all of humanity.

5

Donor

Rating: 5

I met Jesus when I was invited to attend a Young Life camp as a Sophomore in H.S. I had no idea they would be talking about Jesus...I am glad that's not the first thing my friend sold me on...it was hot girls and parasailing! The girls were there...the parasailing was there...but so was Jesus...waiting for me. What a great ministry as my leader came along side of me and loved me well. What a picture of the Gospel. Young Life does outreach the very best!

5

Donor

Rating: 5

I've seen soooo many kids impacted for eternity! Excellence is a hallmark of YL too, which I've appriciated as a volunteer, donor, and staff member.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Young Life for over 25 years as both a volunteer and a donor. It is our favorite ministry because of its impact on reaching teenagers. They have the best and most systematic approach to presenting Jesus Christ to unchurched teens that I know of. And their ability to recruit and retain dozens of young volunteers is a testament to the effectiveness of this ministry. Young Life will continue to be our #1 recipient.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

Young Life changed my life! The folks that cared about me and took interest within the organization have had lasting impact. Young Life volunteers and staff care about kids right where they are.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

God uses the language of Young Life to speak to high school kids, and, boy, do they listen. I've seen so many lives changed through this organization: kids turned from the roads they were heading down, redirected from bad decisions, loved through hard times.

7

Donor

Rating: 5

I have a 20-yr old woman living with me and my family because of the brokenness in her own biological family. Divorce, drugs and materialism brought her nothing but disappointment and abandonment for most of her life. Now, after years of adults pouring into her life through Young Life, she has hope and a future. Young Life not only taught her about Jesus, but showed her about His love. She is forever changed, I have seen the transformation myself over the last 6 years.

6

Donor

Rating: 5

I was a YL kid in the 1980's, volunteer leader, donor and staff. My husband and I will ALWAYS donate to YoungLife because it works! It is the best youth organization out there because YoungLife leaders care about kids more than numbers or programs.

5

Donor

Rating: 5

YoungLife leaders seek out kids who don't have positive role models in their lives. I have seen kids lives totally changed by their leaders taking time to get to know them and pour into their lives. At camp this summer, I saw many kids, but two specifically, who's lives were so changed by the experience that they have come home and made serious life changes. Their respective leaders continue to walk along side of them!

6

Donor

Rating: 5

I've been involved with Young Life in some capacity for about 13 years and can not say enough good things. Every time I am at an event or program I grow and am inspired to do more. The organazation as a whole has to me one of the most efficient ministries in the world stretching every dollor for greater impact. Thank you YL for all you do, all you've done, and all you have yet to do...each and every time with a smile, in love, and with everything you have.