Exploring New Frontiers

2018 Annual Report

Our Founder and CEO, Joe Cavanaugh, facilitating a retreat for 11th-grade students about leadership and responsibility.


I have had the great privilege of leading Youth Frontiers (YF) over the last thirty years. And it has been a privilege. Many of you reading this have come alongside us on our journey to inspiring and challenging nearly 2 million students and educators to live lives of character. We accomplished this incredible feat because you, like us at YF, believe that character matters and it can and must be inspired.


In our 30th year, you supported us again as we embraced some amazing opportunities:


•   A new office space (that fits our growing staff of 50+ employees)
•   A renewed brand (that brings a new level of connection and impact and opportunity to our mission)
•   Conversations across the Midwest on ethical leadership and the importance of character and civility in building healthy communities


These steps have brought us closer to YF’s vision: our next generation of leaders is grounded in character.


In the midst of YF’s growth, our retreats have remained best in the world. I state that claim boldly. As we innovate, we are also focusing on quality to ensure that our retreats maintain the level of excellence our school partners demand and deserve.


And I firmly believe that retreating — stepping back from technology and from harried lives to connect as humans through one, mutual experience — is crucial to our children’s well-being.

The pressure on kids is overwhelming. Loneliness is skyrocketing. Anxiety is becoming a critical mental health issue. Bullying is as much of an issue now as when we were in school. More than ever, kids need human connection. In fact, they’re starving for it. And human connection is what we do at YF.


When we show up at a school, we bring students together to connect — without their smartphones. We get them to laugh and dance and play together. We sit them down beside one other. And, most importantly, we get them to talk with each other, face-to-face, about the valuable things in life, like kindness and courage and respect.


Over the next 30 years, YF will continue to broaden and deepen its commitment to inspiring the character of young people. We are building more programs that support the teachers and educational leaders to whom we entrust our kids and grandkids. We are working with businesses and corporations to highlight the importance of raising the next generation of ethical leaders. We are expanding our student programming around leadership to ensure high school students take responsibility for their school culture. Ultimately, we are firmly planting our flag (see our updated logo!) in new frontiers to send the message that character matters, civility matters and the community our children live in matters. More than ever, our world needs this flag to point the way forward.


Thank you for your continued support of our mission.

 Our mission  is to provide schools with experiences that inspire character, civility and community.

The #1 reason schools partner with Youth Frontiers is to improve school climate.

123,922 students and educators experienced our retreats.

8.5 out of 10 schools brought us back to help build a positive community.

98% of school clients rate the quality of our Retreat Staff as excellent.

Character matters.
We believe it can and must be inspired.

Watch our manifesto video.


Grace Ellis, Waverly High School, Neb.


An unprecedented four educators nominated Grace for the Character Award. They commended her for leading by example and using her voice to foster an environment where all can be heard.


The Character Award is a chance for Youth Frontiers to honor students of character in their community. Special thanks to Mike and Jan Brown for sponsoring a $2,500 college scholarship for Grace.


Read the full story.

Destiny Kudelko, Kewaskum High School, Wis.


Rachel Hassler, the art teacher at Kewaskum, nominated Destiny for her everyday leadership – evident from the very beginning of her high school career.


To further recognize her accomplishments, Scott and Linda Haag awarded Destiny a $2,500 college scholarship.


Read the full story.


We were humbled and grateful for how the community rallied to support YF as it turned 30. In addition to celebrating its anniversary and reflecting on the past, YF prepared for the future. It expanded its brand, began new innovative programming and prepared to move to a new space, all to better serve the youth its mission impacts. This growth would not have been possible without the vision and investment of YF donors.


Thank you for helping us provide schools with experiences that inspire character, civility and community.


– Heather Teskey, Board Chair

2018 Youth Frontiers Staff

Youth Frontiers Staff – Summer 2018


Ended June 30, 2018

TOTAL REVENUE – $4,519,914
  • Program Fees – 51%

  • Donations – 49%

TOTAL EXPENSES – $4,379,809
  • Program – 74%

  • Fundraising – 22%

  • Administrative – 4%


Fully audited documents are available upon request.


Because of you, Youth Frontiers had another record-breaking year. We are deeply grateful to have the support of so many individuals, foundations and corporations. Thank you for supporting our mission!




“Human beings learn through experience, through connection and also through a lot of fun. Youth Frontiers is able to bridge all those things: take really, really juicy content and present it in a way that’s fun, that’s meaningful, that’s uncomfortable at times and very eye-opening. I think it removes kids from their typical, traditional space, puts them in a new environment, where it just opens up their minds to a new way of thinking. I think that’s why it works.”


— Ann Miller, 100th Anniversary Project Manager, Liberty Diversified International


Read the full story.



“A friend first introduced us to Youth Frontiers about three years ago when he invited us to the Annual Event in Omaha. We were so impressed with the message, music and people involved with YF; we knew it was something we wanted to support. We have four young children in school and truly see the importance of encouraging kindness, courage and respect in their daily lives and have found that YF expands upon these values we want to instill in our children. They say it takes a village to raise children — we hope that by supporting Youth Frontiers, our children’s village becomes an even kinder, more respectful environment.”


— Kim Hollinger, Youth Frontiers Nebraska Guild Member



“I believe it’s our responsibility as adults and as leaders to ensure our children have positive school experiences. That’s why I support Youth Frontiers. YF provides schools with experiences that inspire character, civility and community. Through their retreats, YF is changing the lives of Milwaukee children for the better.”


— Jackie Herd-Barber, Community Volunteer


Special thanks to our board chair, Heather Teskey, for her contributions to YF!

Kenneth M. Bird, Ed.D., President & CEO, Avenue Scholars Foundation

Joe Cavanaugh, Founder & CEO, Youth Frontiers, Inc.

John Dulin, Vice President, Corning

John Forliti, Retired Chaplain; Community Leader

Karen Hohertz-Jacobs, Senior Director, Procurement Operations and Cost Transformation, Best Buy

Dr. Bruce H. Jackson, Executive Director, C. Charles Jackson Foundation; CEO, The Institute of Applied Human Excellence

Dwight Johnson, Retired Chrysler Corporation Executive, Community Leader

Tom Langseth, Senior Vice President, Distribution Relationship Management, Allianz Life of North America

Jim McCorkell, Founder & CEO, College Possible

Chuck Mooty, President & CEO, Jostens, Inc.

Jon Reissner, President, Activar

Fred Senn, Founding Partner, Fallon Worldwide

Heather Teskey, Chief Marketing Officer, Financial Services, Deluxe

Ryan Vandewiele, Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Hubbard Broadcasting

Prince Wallace, CEO, West Central Environmental Consultants, Inc.

Dr. David Walsh, Founder & CEO, Mind Positive Parenting

Duke Zurek, Director of Retail Stores, Apple, Inc.

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