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Our Team


YAASPA was established in 2010 based upon Dr. Mackey and her husband's, co-founder,  academic and career experiences (learn more here). Being born and raised in Colorado and Black race scholar activist, Dr. Mackey came to learn about the challenges youth face in navigating their academic and career development in the social sciences amidst the Colorado Paradox. The Colorado Paradox is the phenomena that only 25% of 9th graders will earn a college degree and many are in need of remediation. In light of this, there have been career pathways created in order to build youth’s self-efficacy in business, fine arts, health sciences, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Many of the decisions to create these career pathways have been from a top- down approach and simply based upon the labor market. Consequently, there have been few endeavors to cultivate the self-efficacy for youth who desire to pursue a social justice career. Hence, to pursue degrees and careers in the social sciences. This is a gap that YAASPA mitigates via community organizing, advocacy and our programs which are: a course entitled civic engagement in community and career, scholarship fairs, social sciences and policy institutes and a new partnership with Community College of Aurora to award students a two-year scholarship who are interested in pursuing social science degrees. YAASPA also partners with organizations collaboratively to facilitate education advocacy to increase social equity. With the YAASPA experience, youth are cultivated to:

• Increase academic and career self-efficacy

• Increase self-awareness of racial identity development

• Increase civic literacy

• Increase civic engagement

In doing this, we are able to fulfill our motto to support our youth to “redefine the standards to pull down the barriers” they may face in becoming civically engaged in community and career. We know our model works based upon research and the youth themselves. Research indicates that youth of color must better understand their identities in order to build their confidence in academic and career decisions. It is critical that youth are not solely prescribed academic and career opportunities, but that they are the co-authors and creators in the process. Per social cognitive career theory, youth are likely to gravitate toward what they see within their communities. Thus, YAASPA endeavors to mitigate the sociopolitical culture within Colorado that perpetuates the Colorado Paradox. The Colorado Paradox is perpetuated through neoliberal, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and labor market driven policy and mindsets which erases the importance of acknowledging the intersectionality of youth’s identities at play within academic and career development. Thus, the systems that we are attempting to address, and redress are not only institutional, but also psychological. YAASPA has created programming to cultivate youth’s creative genius to create and engage in career pathways that will breakdown neoliberal, racist systems within our communities and build bridges between marginalized communities.





YAASPA endeavors to build the self-efficacy of youth who desire to make change in our communities, pursue social science degrees, and social justice careers. 


Mission: To encourage and support disengaged and underserved youth to participate in their communities socially and politically, in order to make changes within the community. To create political and social awareness regarding issues that directly and/or adversely affects our communities, it is necessary to be educated. Through activism and education, we can redefine the standards that have been placed upon us.


Vision: to cultivate youth to be civically engaged in community and career!

Redefining the standards to pull down the barriers!

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Dr. Janiece Mackey PhD Co-founder and CEO
Joan Njagu-Hunter, MBA Chief Financial Officer
Derika Dimanlig Administrative and HR Manager
Kianne Keil Senior Administrative Assistant
Chelsea Situmeang Director of Youth Development
John Tucker Community Engagement and Learning Manager
Treaunna Jones Public Health Advisor
Tashan Montgomery Educator and Youth Council Liaison
Melkamu Alemu Career and Wellness Advisor 
Lauryn Williams Racial Equity Advising Liaison
Jose Flores Behavioral Health and Intern Specialist


Education and Community Engagement Fellows: Leilani Gomez, Alexa Fontes

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Alexa fontes

Public Health Fellows

Youth Education and Student Policy Researchers



 Our youth explore and research their community issues and beyond. They also think of innovative ways to share their experiences and knowledge with varying levels of governance. They have advocated for increased support for multi-lingual students, transit equity and beyond. They are elevating their intellectual abilities and deepening their engagement.


These courses provide youth in middle school or high school the opportunity to explore academic and career development in the social sciences. Within this experience youth are cultivated to:

  • ​Increase academic and career self-efficacy

  • Increase self-awareness of racial identity development

  • Increase civic literacy

  • Increase civic engagement 


We offer this course in the following ways: 

  • As a course for elective, english or social science credit ​

  • As a course focused on Young Men of Color or for Young Women of Color 

  • As a career-tech education certified course linked to career pathways


If you are interested in this course or a version of it being offered at your school or for your organization, contact us!


 This program is for middle and high school students. This fun filled experience offers students an opportunity to come together from varying school districts to deepen their knowledge, self-efficacy, and connections to help them better understand, learn about and be exposed to social science degrees and policy.

The 2024 Social Sciences and Policy Institute will be offered for two weeks, June 10th-June 21st this summer. Breakfast, lunch, and transportation will be provided. Applications are OPEN. Apply here.

If you are a student interested in attending the 2024 Institute or you are a community partner interested in facilitating a workshop, contact Dr. Janiece Mackey and

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YAASPA has partnered with various industry partners to create our codified social science workforce development program entitled the Y Incubator. 

This program offers paid internships and paid fellowships for youth to attain work-based learning experiences. 

The following are pathways we are building and/or have created: education, public administration, public health. 

If you are an industry partner and have interest in partnership, please contact Dr. Janiece Mackey at


YAASPA has a partnership with Community College of Aurora Foundation to provide a 2 year scholarship for students as they pursue social science majors.

Please see the statement below of our scholar, Keelie Gray: 

I am a graduate from Aurora Central. I study Political science and  my goal is to become a politician to help students like me overcome barriers that laws have put against us and to fight for what I believe in.

If you are interested in supporting these scholars, or this program click here.


This summer, 2024, we will have YMOC and YWOC Summer of Activism June 24th-July 26th for middle and high school BIPoC young men and women.

This will include an overnight experience and stipends will be provided to youth.

Complete the interest forms below.

YMOC and YWOC Summer of Activism:

For questions or inquiries, please reach out to:

John Tucker for YMOC: 

Treaunna Jones for YWOC:


Click the DONATE link above, send funds through our CashApp or make checks payable to:

PO Box 202092 Denver, CO 80220








YAASPA is 501c3 nonprofit organization. 

Thus, all contributions are 100% tax deductible!


We appreciate your donation and continued support for our programs

to cultivate youth to be civically engaged in community and career!

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