Just Say YES (Youth Equipped to Succeed) is a nonprofit organization helping equip teens to succeed by educating them through student assembly speakers, peer-to-peer mentoring and multimedia programs. The organization’s goal is to empower students to say “YES” to their dreams and goals and “no” to destructive choices.
The Just Say YES team comes alongside schools to partner with them in providing the right speakers, media, and curriculum to help students succeed academically and in life, helping them make positive decisions that will improve their success - inside and outside of the classroom.
Their speakers and resources cover a variety of topics, including bullying, teen sexual activity, teen dating violence, high school dropout prevention, drug and alcohol abuse, and self-image.
"It is never too late to start over." That is the message Dan Bailey likes to live by and wants every student to hear.
In 1996, Dan was a successful businessman working in corporate America. The spark to volunteer came after he attended a banquet for Texans United for Life. This organization needed volunteers to speak in public schools about abstinence. This hit close to home for Dan: He was an unplanned pregnancy when his mother was 18. Dan felt passionately that teens needed to hear a message regarding healthy choices and boundaries, so he began volunteering once a month, speaking in the school system for Texans United for Life. Dan was so attentive to the demand of this topic and the need for it to be discussed persuasively with medical accuracy, that he developed a comprehensive program to be presented in the school system. Texans United for Life was very impressed with Dan’s program and professionally videotaped Dan presenting it so they could use it as a training tool for other speakers.
In 1998, Dan was still working in corporate America but was starting to feel a nudge and a passion for his work in the school systems. The pivotal moment for Dan was reading "Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance" by Bob Buford, and attending a goal-setting conference at his church. At the conference, the leaders asked, “How would you spend your money and time, if money and time were not an issue?” Dan knew immediately that speaking to teenagers full-time about boundaries and healthy choices was his gift and passion.
Dan discussed this with his beautiful wife and kids: His desire was to turn his volunteer work into a full time career. He truly felt that God was sending him a strong message to make a career shift. After six months of praying, God began opening doors and providing needs for their family that they could not have orchestrated. The clear message came when Aim for Success (an educational organization that teaches abstinence education through self-control, self-respect, and self-discipline) persuaded Dan to join them as their Executive Director and help them expand their organization. After two-and-a-half years, Dan grew the program from 4 to 14 states and increased their programs from 1,600 to 2,500 per year.
In 2002, Dan had a vision to launch a new nonprofit that would collaborate with different organizations to develop multifaceted abstinence and risk-avoidance teen programs. With the financial support and blessing from Aim for Success, he pursued his vision and started Just Say YES.
With the philosophy "A connected teen is a protected teen,” Just Say YES has had great success utilizing a wide range of resources and dynamic, nationally recognized speakers (a few well known speakers are pictured) for student assemblies, multimedia programs, peer-to-peer mentoring and classroom curriculum. Dan has built strong relationships with superintendents, school board members, and principals to customize risk avoidance strategies for their schools. Last school year, Just Say YES gave 314 programs to 105,033 students, parents and educators in 226 schools.
Dan’s steadfast faith and perseverance to educate today’s teens has allowed him to face and overcome any obstacles. He believes that if God gives a vision, he will give provision. Dan wants teens to have hope, discover their talents, and manage their struggles and influences in a positive manner.
Dan's biggest dream is, “for every high school in America to have the STARS Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program to empower and encourage struggling teens.”
Today, Just Say YES programs have been conducted in 38 states and have reached more than half-a-million students, parents, and educators.
With their continued growth, Dan hopes to expand the programs to more schools locally and nationwide. Because of the tremendous success of the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program, the organization hopes to expand to 10 schools and will need two more full-time staff Mentor Coordinators.
In Dan’s spare time, he is consulting with the governor's office for the State of Texas on effective use of current abstinence funding. Dan will be advising them on strategies to allocate Texas’ $5 million budget for authentic abstinence programs.
Below is a powerful video showcasing Just Say YES STARS Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program. STARS (Student Teaching About Relationships and Success) is a student-led, peer-mentoring program in which the high school upperclassmen students mentor freshmen students who are struggling in some way. The core elements of the program; self-respect, healthy relationships, dating violence, refusal skills, a focus on their future, and having a mentor that invests in their lives.