A vision, a commitment and a call to action so powerful that fear and hesitation are left behind. These are the seeds from which YES Institute grew and the underpinnings that sustain it today.
YES Institute began as a personal project in 1995 led by Connie Barden and Martha Fugate. Known as Project YES, the two began meeting with local community leaders and educators to understand what could be done to keep gay and lesbian youth from wanting to kill or harm themselves.
In these meetings, they discovered two critical reasons why well-intentioned professionals were not taking effective actions: they lacked education and they were not comfortable talking about gay youth.
This was the missing piece, the contribution that was needed, and it became the purpose of YES Institute: to provide powerful communication and education to empower people to serve and protect all youth regardless of circumstances or opinions.
Martha and Connie took a stand for a world where no one would be harmed or harm themselves because of their gender or orientation. This call to action has propelled and sustained the work of the staff, board, volunteers and financial supporters of YES Institute. As a result, lives have been saved, families have been reunited; young people are safer in environments that welcome them.