Our Story

By Teens, For Teens

Northern Youth Project works to better the outcomes and opportunities for rural Northern New Mexico youth through hands-on art, agriculture, community service, and leadership projects that honor the past and look to the future.

NYP is a homegrown effort, founded in 2009 by local teens in response to staggering statistics of high school dropout rates, teen substance abuse, academic underachievement, and a lack of programs for teenagers in the area.

Collectively, Northern Youth Project teens have set out to “be the change” in their community. The program provides an opportunity to put ideas into action: initiating projects they want to do, focusing on their interests, and engaging in activities driven by their passions.

Our strategy is working! Nearly 100% of Northern Youth Project teens 18 and older have graduated from high school or received a GED and are now attending college. Participating members have regularly shown increased rates of school attendance and academic performance, expressing a greater sense of awareness, appreciation and responsibility towards their community, school, culture, environment, and most importantly, themselves.

“Northern Youth Project has taught us many things…how to be committed, hardworking, and overall how to express ourselves not only in words, but also in art…”       —D.R., 15



Although Northern Youth Project teens raise some of their own revenue, it is with the help from many generous individuals, organizations, and local businesses that our programs are made possible. Luciente, Inc., a community-based, 501(c)(3) organization, is the fiscal sponsor of the initiative. The Northern Youth Project garden site is provided by Tres Semillas Foundation, Inc.


In 2015, the Santa Fe Community Foundation awarded Northern Youth Project a coveted Chispa Award, given to organizations who are a shining light (chispa) in their communities and do “a lot with a little.” Other important organizations who have generously supported NYP include Clothing Helping Kids; Con Alma Foundation; United Way of Northern New Mexico; New Mexico Children’s Foundation; Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area; Dr. Gerald J. & Dorothy R. Friedman Medical Foundation, Inc.; Farm to Table New Mexico; Abiquiú Studio Tour; and Owl Peak Farm. More than 2,500 volunteer hours and thousands of dollars worth of in kind goods and services are donated each year to keep our program—and youth—thriving.