YOUNG ASPIRING AMERICANS FOR SOCIAL AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM
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 be civically engaged in community and career!
Redefining the standards to pull down the barriers!
Janiece Mackey, PhD
CO-FOUNDER (2010) AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
PhD in Higher Education with Curriculum Instruction and Public Policy Emphases
Master of Social Science with a Social Justice Emphasis
As an African American woman and native of Colorado, and particularly as a youth, I often navigated my politically oriented academic and civic engagement pursuits as one of the few youth of color. Please check out the genesis of YAASPA and my civic journey here.
YOUTH POLICY LINK LIAISON
Gabriella was born in Denver! She attended the University of Denver where she earned her bachelors degree in International Studies and Socio-legal Studies. She is passionate about social justice and equitable access to education, as well as racial justice and the counter narratives of Black and Brown people. She believes that education is paramount in changing the lives of marginalized communities and that youth are both the current and future leaders of that change. She is excited about partnering with YAASPA to help be an asset to scholars on their activism journey!
INSTRUCTOR AND YOUTH COUNCIL LIAISON
Chelsea Situmeang is a recent graduate from University of Colorado Denver where she earned her two BA degrees in Ethnic Studies and Public Health. She was previously a college intern for YAASPA holding space with the youth village and is excited to continue this work along with starting her new career journey as an Educator with YAASPA. She is excited to share her brilliance in the community and is looking forward to holding space with the youth village.
Xavier Hadley is a recent graduate from Colorado State University where he double majored in Poetry and Ethnic Studies. His studies were focused on critical race theory and language as the mechanism which largely connects us to our own humanity and the way in which we understand and are understood by the world around us. Xavier spends his time practicing and showcasing different modes of artistic expression with mediums like poetry, photography, songwriting and music production, and illustration across Denver.
Tashan Montgomery is a recent graduate from The University of Denver. He has a BSBA in International Business with a minor in Political Science. He spends a lot of his time finding work within the community, and encouraging activism from himself and his peers. Tashan also works on his own photography service, titled True Lenses Photography. He has worked with YAASPA in the past and is excited to continue that work.
My name is Brandon Sweeney and I am a proud graduate of Philander Smith College, an HBCU in Little Rock, Arkansas. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. I have worked in the Montbello community in Denver for 4 years as both a Teacher and Dean of Students. I am excited to begin a new chapter in my career, working alongside and helping empower our communities. I strive to be a change agent in my community, and very passionate about the opportunities education can open up. In my spare time I enjoy playing basketball, enjoying the nature Colorado has to offer, and exploring new eateries with my friends. I also enjoy collecting sneakers and watching my favorite teams as well.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP LIAISON
Crystal Gillis-Drayton is a native of Colorado. She grew up in the Cherry Creek School District. She graduated from Eaglecrest high school. She attended Metro State to receive a Bachelors degree in Human Performance and Sport and continued her schooling for a Masters in Special Education at Colorado University at Denver. She is currently a Physical Education and Health Teacher at Smoky Hill high school. She has also been the sponsor of groups that focus on students of color at Smoky Hill High school. Her passion is breaking barriers to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and inequalities that her students of color have to unnecessarily deal with in the public school system. She has been teaching for 12 years. She loves gardening, working out and spending time with her two children.
COLLEGE INTERN AND CO-INSTRUCTOR
My name is Michaela Lee and I am a sophomore at CU Denver majoring in Psychology and minoring in Ethnic Studies. I am very passionate about learning about social injustice in today's society and hope to counsel children in juvenile facilities once I graduate.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND COMMUNICATIONS PROFESSIONAL
Ebony Johnson believes in becoming a part of change by being the change. For her it is not W.W.J.D., but W.W.Y.T.Y.D. (What would you tell your daughter). In being a living testimony, she has accepted the divine assignment of breaking generational curses and embracing ancestral strengths. Ebony will assist in working with the YAASPA movement by contributing skills honed and perfected while employed in Corporate America. Her personal and professional mission is to assist in changing the narrative of our melanin-enriched youth and nation from mere survivors to conquerors and game-changers. “Barriers are internal as well as external; with spiritual stamina and a deep-rooted identity/understanding of self, the same barriers meant to stop you, will be the building blocks that raise you above the rest
Joan Njagu is a graduate of Regis University and supports many nonprofit organizations in the Denver Metro area with financial literacy, budget development and forecasting, payroll and beyond. Joan is passionate about helping nonprofits committed to social justice to navigate financial health and sustainability.
Asia Lyons is the founder and lead consultant for Lyons Educational Consulting LLC, a consulting and coaching firm that supports schools and other non-profits in their creation of culturally responsive programming and curriculum. Lyons Educational Consulting also focuses on supporting families in having race, racism and anti-racism conversations through a Facebook group platform.
Prior to founding Lyons Educational Consulting, Asia worked as a K-12 educator in the Cherry Creek School District in Colorado for over 10 years. She also served as the school-partner specialist at RISE Colorado, an Aurora-based non-profit, a role in which she worked with schools and other non-profits across the Denver Metro Area in order to provide communities with resources to help close the access gap for children of color.
In addition to her work in coaching and consulting, Asia is also an adjunct instructor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado - Denver. She is also pursuing her doctorate in Leadership for Educational Equity, where her research focuses on the ways that racism-related stress crosses over from Black educators to their families.
Asia and her husband Cliff are both from Detroit and have been married for 13 years. They have a beautiful daughter, Zoe.
Contract Manager for the State of Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. She has worked in the nonprofit world specifically in the areas of children and education for 13 years.
Boettcher scholar and graduate of DU. Is currently a Mechanical Engineer.
She earned her BA in Business Management at Columbia College and is retired from 35 years of service in the federal government.
Angel Smith Angel is a Colorado native with bachelor’s degrees in political science and international studies from Colorado State University. She recently moved back to Denver from Richmond, VA and is interested in art history, Arabic language, travel, family and current affairs.
Daniel is a graduate of South High school, husband, and father of three girls. He is a Terminal Manager for Denver Forward Air Incorporated. He is passionate about education issues and has navigated public, private, and home school education as a father.
YAASPA'S ENGAGED TO CLIMB YOUTH ADVISORY COUNCIL (YECYAC)
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.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN COMMUNITY AND CAREER COURSE
This course provides 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
If you are interested in this course or a version of it being offered at your school or for your organization, contact us!
SOCIAL SCIENCES AND POLICY INSTITUTES
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 2020 Social Sciences and Policy Institute will be offered for four weeks this summer. Breakfast, lunch, and transportation and technology assistance will be provided. Applications will open soon.
If you are a student interested in attending this year's Institute or you are a community partner interested in facilitating a workshop, contact Janiece Mackey and
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 2020 scholar, Keelie Gray:
I am currently in a graduate from Aurora Central. I want to study Political science when I get into college. 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.
Our scholarship fairs provide an opportunity for students and families to navigate scholarship opportunities to prepare for their post-secondary journeys!
The next fair will be held for Aurora Central students in April.
We are thankful to the many partners who have supported this fair for many years!
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!