The YESS Academy Launch

YESS Institute
After more than 20 years of serving Denver's local communities, YESS Institute is excited to have officially launched our newest endeavor: The YESS Academy. Welcome!

The YESS Academy represents the official learning center for the YESS Institute, a non-profit organization located in Denver, CO. Since its origin in 2001, YESS Institute has provided Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) programs for middle and high school students through for-credit classes.

Our e-Learning Courses:
  • Our e-Learning series, "Healthy Lifestyles", consists of 3 gamified courses related to Cannabis, Vaping, and Opioid awareness and education.

Our mission:
  • We aim to reduce the prevalence of substance abuse among youth, decrease negative health, social, and educational consequences associated with substance abuse.

What is YESS Healthy Lifestyles?

YESS Healthy Lifestyles was designed with the mission of reaching youth at a critical developmental period in their lives, and equipping them with the knowledge, tools, and resources to develop healthy life skills.

Healthy Lifestyles is focused on educating students about topics relevant in their classrooms and communities. The reality is, relevant topics for youth growing up in today's world include Cannabis, Vaping, and Opioids.

Why is youth drug awareness & education critical?

YESS Academy is based in Colorado - among the first states to legalize Cannabis for medical use and the first state in the country to legalize recreational Cannabis-use. After years of research, we now know that the most effective adolescent Cannabis education programming should be designed based on the individual realities of a school.

Youth drug awareness and education is critical, now more than ever. The statistics don't lie: mis-use of substances is pervasive in our current world, and the statistics around youth drug use are alarming both at the national and state levels.

Check out the 2022 statistics on youth drug use for individuals ages of 12-17 years:
See Refs, 1-4 for full details related to youth drug use statistics in the United States and Colorado.

How is our youth Cannabis education course different?

Most other programs of this nature are dense content presented in PDF or PowerPoint formats, which lack engagement and relatability for youth. We've taken our years of research and community experience through the YESS Institute's endeavors to craft our courses to meet the needs and realities of our students. All of our courses are all gamified, meaning they are highly interactive

Providing youth with accurate, up-to-date, and practical information around drug awareness better prepares them for the real world.

Our course explains the basics:

What is Cannabis?
How do people
use Cannabis?
How does Cannabis affect the brain?
What are other health effects of using Cannabis?
What is the purpose of
medical marijuana?
Why are some states
legalizing Cannabis use?

and much more.

Students of our
Cannabis Awareness & Education curriculum (grades 5-8) participate in an interactive 9-level e-Learning curriculum where they learn about healthy choices & personal responsibility while exploring nature. 

Why use SEL to teach about drug awareness and education to youth?

SEL is particularly important is in efforts to improve drug awareness and education for middle and high school students. These age groups are at a crucial stage of development because the human brain is still developing until around age 25. This means that they are more susceptible to the effects of drugs and alcohol, and also more likely to engage in risky behavior.

Through SEL, students can learn how to recognize and regulate their emotions, make responsible decisions, and build positive relationships. They can also practice confidently saying "no" to peer pressure and making responsible decisions in different scenarios. These skills can help them resist peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol, and also make informed decisions if they do encounter these substances.

YESS Academy provides programs focus on behavioral awareness and education for youth, combining SEL techniques into each virtual course. Our goal is to empower you, your students, and your community so that you can feel confident in the future leaders of our world.

What's next for YESS Academy?

Coming soon are our e-Learning courses focused on educating students about vaping and opioids. Vaping (the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device) has become a widespread and normalized form of substance use in teens; about 1 in 5 high school students vape. Rates of opioid use have increased dramatically recently. Opioids are involved in the majority of preventable drug overdose deaths (77%) and were involved in approximately 50,000 deaths in 2019 alone. 

Check out our downloadable fact sheets for more information and keep an eye out for the rest of our downloadable resource series in our community 

We are here to share our courses with you and provide the tools, training, and curricula to bring success to your school, organization, and students.

To stay in the know about our course offerings, learn sensible information related to drug awareness, and hear from experts in the field,
subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media: 
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YESS Academy is the product of collaboration between YESS Institute, RadSchools, and Denver Afterschool Alliance. We are grateful to our many community supporters and participants who have helped make our resources streamlined, effective, and available to you in multiple modalities.

YESS Institute


Psst! Since you scrolled all the way down here, here's a freebie:

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1. National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. 2022.
2. Anne E. Casey Foundation. Kids Count Data Center.,6/419,420
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. National Surveys on Drug Use and Health: 2018-2019.
4. Colorado Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force. Annual Report. 2021.
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics: mortality data on CDC WONDER: provisional multiple cause of death data. Accessed January 5, 2022. 
6. Ramzi G. Salloum, Andy S. L. Tan, & Lindsay Thompson. What Parents Need to Know About Teen Vaping and What They Can Do About It. JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(4):440. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6689