YES Is...

Teens and the YES story

Guns in school. Drugs. Gangs. Loneliness and AIDS. Can we give teens more than simple clichés? Can we give them something that works?

That's just the question a group of youth leaders asked themselves. The answer? YES -- Youth Entertainment Studios, a youth development program that surrounds teens at risk with positive ideas and people.

Here's how it began: In 1991 the youth leaders challenged a group of teens from a public housing community to work together to make a music video with a positive message. They did. The teens' music video, Steppin' Into The Light, was so powerful it aired on Black Entertainment Television, The Family Channel and other national networks.

Shortly after this YES was born. Today, through digital multimedia studios,and summer camps teens have a way off the streets. And it's working!



YES was started with the help of teens. In fact, a teen came up with the YES name. Today YES teens pour their imagination, sweat and hearts into every project.

Not only do teens learn to set and reach goals YES, but they also share the results of their work with family, friends and the community.

Operational Philosophy

YES Community Studios are located in the heart of low-income neighborhoods and target the hard-to-reach adolescent and teen (middle and high school ages) population. Young people are engaged in music recording, web publishing, graphic design, TV production, and marketing activities. Studio sessions are a way to build strong, lasting relationships between responsible, caring adults and youths considered at-risk. The studios are tactical offensive weapons that impact youth by creatively using the following three building blocks: Culture; Education; and Character Development.


The hallmark of YES' strategy is to embrace urban youth culture as the principle way to reach teenagers at-risk in order to re-direct them toward character development and education. Today, hip-hop culture influences every facet of the entertainment media popular among urban youth through music, language, dance, art and video production. YES Community Studios cultivates the interests of teens in hip hop culture and involves music, script development, video production, and Web publishing. These studios in effect are miniature "Multimedia Motowns."

Hip-Hop culture, in large measure, is about taking care of your business. Successful Hip-Hop artists like Master P, Puffy, Missy Elliot, and others embody this entrepreneurial spirit. Even gangster life, at the core, has a take-care-of-business attitude. The YES Operational Approach must be consistent with the rules of the culture if it is to be successful.

YES Community Studios are run like businesses; multimedia entertainment companies with many satellite offices. Within a short time, young people should see very little difference between Russell Simmons' Def Jam Records and YES Music Studios. YES Community Studios will equip the young people with an appreciation for the rules of the legitimate business world and help instill appropriate work ethic and job readiness skills.

Teens learn more than technical skills using YES digital sound mixing boards. They also gain life lessons in self-confidence, open communication and respect for others.

Professionals from all kinds of businesses volunteer with YES. Volunteers tap into teens' interest in music, video and the Net to open young eyes to new possibilities.


The overwhelming presence of technology at virtually every level of the entertainment industry provides a strong platform for linking the excitement of entertainment to education. Specifically, at YES Community Studios every young person is encouraged to learn how to operate all of the equipment. Young people will be required to launch their own web site that can show off their creative masterpieces. As such, they become familiar with technology in a way that is practical and fun.

As a consequence of working side by side with responsible, caring adults to complete projects, the young people learn critical thinking, oral and written communication, and discipline. To complete their projects they must collaborate with others and engage in problem solving.

Character Development

The Philadelphia-based youth development research firm, Public/Private Ventures, conducted effectiveness studies of youth programs over a ten-year period. They found that organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Clubs had the greatest impact with youngsters (ages 6-11) largely as a result of their emphasis on traditional mentoring activities. YES desires similar outcomes with adolescents and teens, helping them reach their full potential through encouraging relationships with responsible, caring adults in a safe environment.

Time spent discussing projects, working in the studio or just chillin' in the lounge area is purposefully constructed to lead toward the intellectual, character and spiritual development of the youths. Self respect, concern for others and community service are other core values stressed by the YES Community Studios Model. The collaborative nature of the production process demands a high degree of social interaction on a variety of levels - interpersonal relationships, relationships within the studio "family," and community relations activities essential to building a following. As the young people work through the process of bringing a product to market, their successes and failures become object lessons.

YES Sites provide teens with a safe place to experience teamwork, gets hands-on experience with professional music, video and computer technology, plus be uplifted by responsible, caring adult mentors.

What People Are Saying About YES...
Dan Rather, CBS News
Edward James Olmos, Actor/Producer/Director
The Late Brandon Tartikoff, Former Chairman, H. Beale Company
Mike Tirico, ABC/ESPN
Blair Underwood, Actor/Director


Who Has Been Involved with YES?
Media Industry Leaders...


The Story of Adam Ballard
Adam is featured in Dan Rather's book The American Dream.