Youth Development

YES Nature to Neighborhoods

Nurturing Leaders Since 1999

aka YES

Richmond, CA


In partnership with nature, YES nurtures leaders who champion the wellbeing of our community.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Mr. Eric Aaholm

Main Address

3029 Macdonald Ave

Richmond, CA 94804 USA

Formerly Known As

Youth Enrichment Strategies


community, nature, enrichment, children, families, camp, camps, outdoors, low income, minority, health, wellness, leadership, youth





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Other Youth Development N.E.C. (O99)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

Children and families with little to no access to the outdoors and outdoor programming are denied the significant, myriad benefits of time spent in nature. Experiences in nature provide a supportive setting for youth, adults, and families to develop meaningful relationships, build trust in themselves and each other, and take safe risks in new environments. YES provides access to these experiences for those historically excluded from the outdoors, and is a leader at the forefront of the movement to increase equity and inclusivity in the outdoor and environmental education fields. YES supports underrepresented Richmond residents to be leaders with the skills, resources, and confidence to work toward a just society and a sustainable environment. YES believes that training Richmond residents as leaders and peer advocates will help spark the greatest overall change for our participants and in our community.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Summer Camp & Camp Days

Family Camp

Camp-to-Community (C2C)

Adult Leaders

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

In partnership with nature, YES nurtures leaders who champion the wellbeing of our community. Our vision is for Richmond youth, adults, and families to lead healthy, connected lives; motivate change in their neighborhoods; and inspire a safe, thriving community. YES’s programming is strategically aligned within a Leadership Pathways model designed to increase opportunities for Richmond youth and adults to connect to the outdoors and receive year-round leadership training and support. YES’s model includes a Youth and an Adult Leadership Pathway, which move participants along a continuum of development to become successful community leaders, health advocates, and change-makers. The Youth Leadership Pathway is a ten-year pipeline from childhood through young adulthood that leads youth from a week of Summer Camp to year-round participation in YES's Camp-to-Community teen program. The pathway supports older teens through a fellowship track designed to help them graduate high school and attend college and/or acquire a meaningful job. The overarching goals of the pathway are for youth to develop the skills and traits to become successful young adults, and to create a cadre of youth leaders in the Richmond community. The Adult Leadership Pathway increases the successful engagement of Richmond adults as community leaders and health advocates by supporting Richmond adults ages 21 and over to participate in the year-round Adult Leaders Program as well as YES’s Family Camp weekend retreats. Short-, Mid-, and Long-Term Outcomes Include: •Increased meaningful cross-cultural, peer, family, intergenerational, and institutional relationships •Increased sense of belonging •Increased connection to nature •Improved wellness •Increased support / strengthened social ties •Increased stewardship of nature •Increased positive identity and self-efficacy •Increased navigation as a result of strengthened communities •Increased ability to navigate healthy and unhealthy social pressures •Increased YES participant and partner presence in a range of community roles (such as sitting on a school board) •Increased Healthy Social and Family Relationships •Increased Economic Self-Sufficiency •Increased Contribution to Community •Increased Community Capacity •Improved Community Conditions

YES’s programs create safe spaces and progressive opportunities - locally and in wilderness settings - which provide the support needed for participants to develop their voices and capabilities as empowered leaders, health advocates, and environmental stewards. YES’s programming is rooted in research-informed design and promotes an evidence-based approach to programming. Three research-backed strategies - building relationships, developing healthy leaders and strengthening community - serve as the foundation for programming and guide the agency’s decision-making. These three strategies build upon each other to bring the positive benefits of experiences in nature back to the local communities in which participants live. Components of the building relationships strategy include: • Cross-cultural, peer, and cross-generational relationship building in nature and in neighborhoods • Facilitated discovery experiences and ongoing activities with nature • Training and skill-building focused on interpersonal development • Regular interaction with peer role models, community leaders, and a range of community agencies • Promotion and modeling of physical and emotional safety • Formal and informal staff support Components of the developing healthy leaders strategy include: • Participant choice in activities, workshops, projects, and explorations • Progressive opportunities to take on new roles, and get out of one’s comfort zone • Ongoing skill-based workshops and trainings • Peer leadership programming and opportunities • Integrated wellness curriculum • Rituals for recognition and reflection • Meaningful engagement and contribution in program planning • Supportive employment opportunities Components of the strengthening community strategy include: • Community-focused trainings, events, and workshops • Introduction to resources - including local transportation, other service providers, and health and wellness programs • Regular day outings, partner, and school events • Participation in and/or leadership of community-based projects, campaigns, and committees • Collective impact efforts and serving as the backbone organization for the North Richmond Network

YES’s unique focus on meaningful, long-term relationships allows us to build trust and a sense of belonging – two essential ingredients for our participants to challenge themselves and take safe risks in new environments. When that happens, bonds form across cultures and generations; our participants embrace nature as a refuge and a place they belong; and people of all ages and life experiences emerge as strong leaders in our community. YES builds and nourishes resident leaders with the skills, resources, and confidence to work toward a just society and a sustainable environment. YES’s staff of ten and our 13 board members are ethnically diverse and have decades of combined experience serving Richmond youth and families. Eight staff members live in and/or are from Richmond and surrounding West Contra Costa County, and six are bilingual in Spanish and English. Executive Director Eric Aaholm is a graduate of the 2013-14 East Bay LeaderSpring cohort for nonprofit executive directors. Blanca Hernández, YES Program Director, is a member of the Healthy Richmond Executive Committee and also a graduate of CompassPoint’s Next Generation Leaders of Color class. YES has a track record of financial and programmatic stability. The agency was built on a foundation of individual donors and maintains significant grassroots contributions from over 750 donors annually. YES has well-established partnerships with over 25 foundations, over 45 businesses, and several in-kind partners, most notably the East Bay Regional Park District who provides staffing for some C2C, Camp Day, and Richmond Rangers activities.

YES’s evaluation tools include participant surveys, interviews, and pre/post assessments. YES’s evaluation was designed in partnership with UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and the evaluation team Learning for Action (LFA). The evaluation protocol is based on YES’s logic model and theory of change, both of which were developed with LFA as part of the agency’s 2015 strategic planning process. The metrics YES will measure include: As a result of Youth Leadership Pathways programming, at least: •85% of children will report being more confident after camp than before camp. •85% of caregivers will report positive changes in their child’s leadership abilities (including confidence, self-esteem, and/or independence) after returning from camp. •95% of teens will report an increase of at least three individuals with whom they consider a peer role model and/or caring adult. •95% of teens will report gaining leadership skills that they can apply to their day-to-day living. •75% of teens will go on to higher levels of camp leadership or paid employment in local outdoor/green initiatives in the community. •75% of teens will identify spending more time outdoors beyond their engagement with the program. •75% of working-age youth will demonstrate the knowledge and skills to apply for, secure, and maintain a job. As a result of Family Camp programming, at least: •85% of parents/caregivers will report feeling more comfortable and positive around people from different language or cultural backgrounds. •85% of parents/caregivers will report an intention to engage in their child(ren)’s school and/or participate in community events. •85% of parents/caregivers will report an intention to spend more time in nature, including local and regional parks, with their family. •80% of parents/caregivers will report an intention to continue to do physical activity and choose healthy options for themselves and their family. As a result of the Adult Leadership Pathway, at least : •85% of adult participants will have a clear understanding of their purpose as a resident leader. •75% of adult participants will report gaining confidence in their conflict resolution skills. •75% of adult participants will report gaining confidence in their public speaking abilities. •80% of adult participants will report feeling comfortable working in groups of people who have different working styles than their own. •75% of adults will learn about issues affecting their community and engage with others to make improvements. •80% of adult participants will report becoming more environmentally conscious and minimizing their consumption and waste. •80% of adult participants will report an increase in their physical activity and in choosing healthy options for themselves and their families.

In 2015, YES aligned our four youth programs and two adult programs with a Leadership Pathways model, and has sinced completed the goals of our 2015-2019 Strategic Plan for number of youth reached, number of engagements throughout the year, and increased mentorship and career pathways support. We regularly meet and exceed our objectives for youth and adult participants annually, and are now restructuring our evaluations program to recognize and work towards milestones for participants along their leadership journey with YES over time. At the close of our 20th year in operation, we are setting ourselves to the task of finalizing this evaluations restructuring, completing our 10-year Youth Leadership Pathway curriculum, developing an alumni network for youth participants after age 18, and bringing mental health supports into our work, which is often a barrier to our youth and families in fully accessing and benefiting from our programs.

External Reviews

Affiliations & Memberships

Nonprofit of the Year, Association of Fundraising Professional Golden Gate Chapter 2018


YES Nature to Neighborhoods

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? This organization has voluntarily shared information to answer this important question and to support sector-wide learning. GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


No data

Race & Ethnicity

No data

Gender Identity

No data

Sexual Orientation

No data


No data

Equity Strategies

Last updated: 11/13/2019

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more


We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.

Policies and processes

We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.