Maximizing young leaders' potential to impact their world through public health, education, and sports initiatives
A U.S. Non-profit Organization Offering International Programs for High-Achieving High School and College Students
Creating Opportunities to Maximize Potential
Youth Futures International is dedicated to creating and providing opportunities for young people to maximize their potential. As YFI Executive Director Dave Butler States: "It is my great honor to have the opportunity to serve as a motivational speaker to high school and college students from all over the world. It is an even greater honor to work with them to see their lives become more fulfilled, and to see areas of our world improve due to their creativty, passion, and dedication."
Hands On Initiatives
At Youth Futures International, students participate in hands on public health, education, and sports initiatives created to both maximize their potential as young leaders' and to create sustainable improvements where they will serve.
Realize Your Future Vision
Youth Futures International is dedicated to standing by our global young leaders by supporting and assisting them to see their vision for the future realized. Due to the opportunities YFI staff members have to meet and interact with these wonderful young people, it has the unique opportunity to have all of our programs, regardless of location, be inspired to open as a direct result of their vision and leadership. We are proud to work alongside youth and young adults from the initial vision of a program to its creation and implementation.
You Are the Teachers & Leaders
As a YFI participant in our Serve, Learn, & Empower and Service Through Sportsmanship Program, you will experience first hand leadership opportunities through the various student led, mentor supervised activities we offer. Whether it is teaching cholera prevention in Ghana or working with inner city at-risk youth in London through our soccer skills programs, you are the teachers and leaders for the community you will be serving.
A+ Alumni & Parent Feedback
High Safety & Security Standards
Youth Futures International is proud to report a 100% successful completion rate, A+ feedback from all of our alumni in regards to their program experience, as well as A+ feedback from alumni parents in regards to overall organizational communication, preparation, and safety and security standards and policies.
Located in Dominase, Ghana, this program is for high school and college students seeking an international service and learning experience providing public health education in school classrooms to students of all ages.
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"I have sent my daughter on various programs and for the money spent and what she got out of this program, it was the best money we ever spent on our daughter."
"I am amazed at how much I learned not only about medical disease prevention, but additionally what a difference I made in a culture and community different than my own. Traveling to Ghana, Africa was a journey that took me not only halfway around the globe, but also to places within myself that I didn’t know even existed."
Serve, Learn, & Empower
Leadership Through Sportsmanship
Located in London, England, this program is for high school students seeking to hone their soccer skills and perform community service projects in partnership with two professional teams, Millwall and Queens Park Rangers.
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"UMI was the greatest experience I've had so far in my life. It really separates those who want to pursue a medical career and those who are on the edge. It gives you a sense of what it truly means to be a doctor. It was eye-opening, life-changing, and I really enjoyed it."
"This experience is bar none one of the most indelible experiences I've ever had in my entire life. This is something that's very hard to do - if not impossible - anywhere else. Being able to have hands-on medical experience at such a young age is amazing. This program really stirs up enthusiasm in the students because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we will never get anywhere else."
Youth Futures International is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts. The organization first began providing summer camp programs for youth diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1994. As time progressed, YFI expanded its HIV/AIDS programming to Ghana. In 2010, YFI launched its first Serve, Learn, & Empower program in Dominase, Ghana and has gone on to add the Ultimate Med Internship in 2014 and Service Through Sportsmanship for 2016. YFI will continue adding new programs and expanding its current programs to new locations in years to come.
YFI's programs are designed for high school and/or college students who are excellent students academically and who wish to broaden their horizons with unique international service and educational opportunities. Though the vast majority of all participants in YFI's programs are from the United States, program enrollment is open to all eligible high school and college students from any country that meet the organization's eligibility requirements.
Regardless of program location and emphasis or participant age and background, YFI strives to provide empowering and inspiring educational opportunities that will instill self-confidence, sound leadership characteristics, and maximize potential while being immersed in the culture of a program's host country and community.
YFI also values the young leaders it meets throughout the U.S. and the world as well as those who participate in its programs. All of YFI's programs exist today because young people were inspired by a speech given by a YFI leader or their experience in a previous program ignited an idea for YFI to pursue. That is how Serve, Learn, & Empower came to be - one student had the idea that YFI should do public health programs, and in 2010 YFI launched Serve, Learn, & Empower. Since then, students have been instrumental in helping YFI launch programs in new locations because of their connections. Today, YFI has young leaders who act as Regional Liaison Officers in countries throughout the world promoting YFI programs in their schools and communities. Other young leaders help YFI with its social media outreach. And, of course, young leaders are instrumental in helping YFI to develop and improve upon its current programs through their participation and the input they give before, during, and after those programs.
Dave brings a 25 year professional history to his position as Executive Director at Youth Futures International. His qualifications include serving as a certified educator and high school administrator, founder and CEO of The Safe Haven Project, Inc., and former Director of the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in Boston.
He is often quoted as saying, "When I meet and interact with our global young leaders, I see a successful, fruitful, and vast future. I sleep well at night by knowing that our world is in great hands due to these creative, energetic, and bold young leaders."
Board of Directors Chair, Special Legal Counsel
Dianna Stallone is a practicing attorney with over 28 years of experience serving businesses and non-profit organizations. She is licensed to practice law in New York and Massachusetts and has worked at three elite law firms. She owns the Law Office of Dianna R. Stallone, part of the Senior Partner Law Group in New York City. Attorney Stallone is the founder and President of "The Smart Entrepreneur," an organization dedicated to guiding businesses and entrepreneurs through the legal process from start-up to dissolution. She is a winner of the American Jurisprudence Award in Intellectual Property and is also a trained mediator. She is a public speaker and author of two books "The Smart Entrepreneur's Legal Guide" and "5 Secrets to Becoming a Master Negotiator. "
Board of Directors - Secretary
Jennifer began her service with Youth Futures International Board of Directors in September 2013 and in 2015 was elected as Secretary. She has 15 years of experience in the travel industry, both as an agency manager and in group and specialty travel. Mrs. Neal brings her perspective as a parent of a YFI alumna as her daughter participated in the Serve, Learn, Empower program in Ghana in 2013. She has also worked in the insurance industry and in both retail and commercial sales and customer service. Jennifer lives in Longmeadow, MA with her husband Doug. They are the proud parents of a son and daughter.
Executive Program Director
Jeremy entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison with the intent of being a pre-med sutdent and ended up majoring in International Relations, Political Science, History of Science, and History of Medicine while dabbling for a few semesters in Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Psychology. He has a long history working with youth in summer camps, first as a counselor out of high school and lastly as camp director, a year-round position managing all aspects of camp operations and staffing. Mr. Yelich has traveled and lived extensively around the world and has only one continent to step foot on...Antarctica.
Executive Program Director - Ghana
Zoe began her association with YFI by volunteering for the Safe Haven Project summer camps for children and youth with HIV/AIDS in 2005. Her work with HIV positive youth influenced her to obtain a Health Policy and Administration degree that completed in 2010 from The Pennsylvania State University. While a college student, Ms. Baylin studied abroad in Ghana for one semester and moved back to Ghana for 14 months after she graduated where she taught Personal and Social Health Education at the British International School in Accra for the 2010-11 academic year.
Christine volunteered as a counselor for three years beginning in 2006 for The Safe Haven Project summer camp for children and youth with HIV/AIDS. She graduated from George Mason University in 2011 after earning a B.A. in Sociology with a concentration in Social Inequalities. Ms. Aircardi participated in YFI's 2013 Ghana program as a student leader, which inspired her to become more involved in YFI. She began her work as Enrollment Manager in 2013 and hopes to continue being involved with this wonderful organization for a long time to come.
Assistant Program Director - Ghana
Stephen was born and raised in Accra and moved to Dominase when he was 18. He began working with YFI during the organization's pilot Serve, Learn, & Empower program in 2010 and quickly became the in-country Assistant Program Director after discovering his love for teaching. Since joining YFI, Stephen has graduated from Cape Coast Polytechnic with a degree in Marketing and taught ICT at the Asante Akyem Agogo School in Kumasi for his National Service.
Mary Margaret Blankson
Graduate Student Intern
University of Massachusetts School of Public Health & Health Sciences
Mary is Ghanaian and is currently a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst pursing a master's degree in Public Health. She graduated from the University of Ghana with a degree in Sociology before coming to the U.S. Ms. Blankson won the coveted role of Graduate Student Intern for YFI in the fall of 2014. Her interest is in community based participatory research that aims to improve the lives of the less privileged in society. Mary is a teaching assistant at the UMASS School of Public Health & Health Sciences. As YFI's Graduate Student Intern she helps develop curriculum and evaluates and reports on the effectiveness of YFI's Serve, Learn, & Empower program.
YFI Founding Student
Allyson, from Boulder, CO is currently a fifth grade teacher in Frederick, CO. She first got involved with YFI after attending the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine at UCLA in 2009. Allyson states, "I was incredibly inspired by Dave Butler's passion for service and leadership and could not turn down the opportunity to help develop and attend the YFI's first Serve, Learn, & Empower program in Ghana in 2010. The leadership opportunities I have been provided have inspired me to return to Ghana, change my career path from medicine to elementary education, and travel internationally for other great causes. I am tremendously grateful for how this amazing organization lit a fire in me to serve, learn, and empower!" Allyson is not only YFI's founding student, but the very model of a young leader that YFI is honored to have for all future participants.
Social Media Director
"I am a student at Simmons College majoring in Public Health and double minoring in Chemistry and Journalism. I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and moved to the United States when I was two years old. I am currently pursuing a career in Medicine, specifically pediatric psychiatry. In the Summer of 2011, I met Dave Butler through the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine and my life has been forever altered since. Working with this organization these past few years has instilled a passion in me for Public Health and Human Rights. I have worked with YFI on creating my own program, and have attended the YFI Serve, Learn, & Empower program in Ghana. I am beyond blessed to have been able to have attended these programs and I am thrilled to be taking a more active role within the organization as Social Media Director."
Regional Liaison Officer - United Kingdom
"Hello! I'm Charlotte, an 18 year old aspiring doctor from Shropshire, England. I was first introduced to Youth Futures International in October 2014 when Dave Butler came to Ellesmere to speak about the organisation. I was instantly inspired and motivated to get involved as much as I possibly could with this fantastic organisation which helps young leaders have the potential to make an impact in the world.
In June 2015 I was fortunate enough to visit Boston, MA USA to attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders which works in association with Youth Futures International and the Ultimate Med Internship. It was an incredible experience - one which I will definitely do again and I hope to accompany a group of other aspiring medics to India for the UMI in the summer 2016 or 2017."
Regional Liaison Officer - United States
David is a senior at Jericho High School in Jericho, NY. He serves as a Regional Liaison Officer in an effort to assist in the recruitment of students for the 2016 Service Through Sportsmanship program to be held in London, England. David will represent YFI in meeting with his peers at Jericho High School, school leadership, and students from neighboring schools.
David brings a great resume of student leadership experience to YFI. Examples of his leadership are: successfully completing the Wharton Sports Business Academy (summer 2015), AP Scholar with distinction (July 2015), National Honor Society member, and he serves on Jericho High School Athletic advisory board. Along with these and many other leadership examples, David also has a heart for community service and has been successful in educating his peers on the risks of HIV/AIDS, serving at local hospitals, and working with children in various capacities.
Regional Liaison Officer - Argentina
Regional Liaison Officer - Brazil
Student Liaison to Ahmedabad, India
Sohi is a high school graduate from West Lake, Ohio. She came to YFI in an effort to help her family’s home country of India, and particularly the city of Ahmedabad, where the Misty family is from. During her junior year of high school, Sohi reached out to YFI Executive Director Dave Butler for his help in guiding her in completing the development of a service project for the Girl Scouts' highest service badge. It was from that project that YFI and Sohi Mistry became involved with each other, and that relationship would eventually be the catalyst for opening the Ultimate Med Internship in Ahmedabad, India during the summer of 2015.
Sohi is currently a freshman at Kent State University where she is continuing quest to become a physician. She is a great example of how being a humble, yet strong individual, can create profound change in the world. In 2015, the Ultimate Med Internship in India had 56 participants from the United States, and is expected to grow to 250 students for 2016. YFI is proud and grateful for Sohi's dedication and passion to make a difference.
Honorary Regional Liaison Officer - Beirut, Lebanon
Melanie came to YFI in 2012 after learning about the organization while attending the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. During the conference, she heard Executive Director Dave Butler present on YFI as a Keynote Speaker.
Melanie approached Mr. Butler and asked him if there was the possibility that she could participate in a program in the future and if he would be interested in traveling to Beirut, Lebanon to speak at her high school. Over the next two years Melanie worked very hard to arrange visits to both her high school, The College Notre Dame de Jamhour, and to American University of Beirut (AUB) to speak during her freshman year of college.
Sadly, Melanie passed away on February 1, 2015 due to injuries sustained in a ski accident in Lebanon. This was not only a tremendous loss for her family, but for her local community as well as the global community through her associations with organizations such as Youth Futures International, Model United Nations, and Global Young Leaders Conference. Melanie truly exhibited exemplary leadership skills and, through her efforts and passion, made a great impact in Beirut, a city for which she had great pride.
Youth Futures International is proud to memorialize Melanie by naming her as an Honorary Regional Liaison Officer from Beirut. The Melanie Freiha Memorial Scholarship has also been established by YFI in an effort to assist a student attend a YFI program of their interest. Melanie’s younger sister Adriana is already ‘taking the torch’ left behind by her sister and is arranging opportunities in Beirut for YFI to present at schools in hopes of having students from Lebanon join its programs in the future.
David R. Buchanan, DrPH
YFI Public Health Practice & Education Consultant
Professor, University of Massachusetts School of Public Health & Health Sciences
David Buchanan, DrPH, is a Full Professor of Community Health Education, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Director of the Institute for Global Health. He earned both his master’s degree and his doctorate in health education from the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. His primary research interests include public health ethics; broadening public health goals to look beyond physical fitness towards improving quality of life; expanding human autonomy and promoting social justice; community-based participatory research; identifying more appropriate criteria for evaluating community health education programs, such as the degree of community input and control, and degree of trust between partners; and international health. Among his many publications, he is the author of An Ethic for Health Promotion: Rethinking the Sources of Human Well-Being published by Oxford University Press.
Nikhil Thakkar, MD
YFI Ultimate Med Internship Physician Consultant
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