Our History


  • Summer 2011

    Pilot Season of Champaign's SYEP

    Champaign Unit 4 Schools wins a one-time Urban Renewal grant to create a program that will place high school students from low-income households and/or at-risk environments with summer jobs for six weeks. The team has one week between winning the award and beginning the program to firm up design plans, begin application/selection process, hire staff, and recruit employers. 

  • Fall 2011

    Program Wins New Support

    The City of Champaign and Champaign Unit 4 School District decide to form a financial partnership and commit to contribute matching funds to continue the program the following summer.  

  • Summer 2015

    Program Achieves 100% Completion Rate 

    This is the first summer that every student who starts a job placement completes the six-week program. That means 179 students are successfully working across the community with 70+ employers. Additionally, 30% of those students keep their jobs beyond the program dates. 

  • Fall 2015

    Program Approved for Full-Time Supervisor

    Because of the rapid growth occurring since the beginning of the program, the team makes a case for creating a full-time supervisor position. This proposal is approved by both the City and Unit 4, and interviews begin in Fall/Winter 2015. 

  • January 2016

    New Supervisor Hired

    In January 2016, Mindy Smith is hired and the program officially becomes a year-long effort for the first time.

  • Fall 2016

    First-Time Fall Initiatives Begin

    The program rolls out a new monthly newsletter beginning in September 2016. Work starts on a new website. And program supervisor meets one-on-one with the past summer's students to check on their work status and fall semester grades and attendance.

  • January 2017

    SYEP Changes Name to YES

    The program changes its name to reflect its new identity as a year-round experience. Youth Engagement Services incorporates new program components for training, recruitment, marketing, and staffing.

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