A Note to Our Community On George Floyd

Youth Frontiers is deeply saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers. We send our deepest sympathies to the Floyd family. Youth Frontiers joins with our nation in grieving his death.

We stand with everyone around the nation in denouncing the ongoing killings of Black Americans whose lives have been unjustly taken. Because, we believe that Black lives matter. 

george floyd memorial mural

For too long our society has not focused enough on the violence and oppression against people of color. We must do something to end this injustice.

For over 30 years, Youth Frontiers has inspired character values in over 2 million young people. We do this in order to create better schools and communities. Our Manifesto speaks to the importance of character in the midst of the inequality and injustices we must overcome as a nation.

Character matters. It’s what motivates a person to be a force for good. Character is what moves a person to make responsible decisions despite their fears. It’s what leads a person to realize that they matter, that others matter and that everyone’s actions matter.

Youth Frontiers recognizes we need to do more.

Going forward, Youth Frontiers will do better to serve all communities by expanding our work around diversity, equity, and inclusion. As an organization, we are stepping up to serve our community. That is why our staff is committing to weekly community service this summer focused on organizations that support communities of color.

And so, Youth Frontiers will continue to challenge ourselves. We will help our next generation create a community where the opportunities and principles of our nation truly are for all.


What Steven Covey can teach us about character.

“Begin with the end in mind.”– Steven Covey

My 19-year old niece, Victoria, adopted from Russia at age 7, loves to watch the show CSI. She wants to work in criminal justice someday. She is currently in the law enforcement track at Normandale College and hopes that one day she will wear the uniform of a law enforcement agent.

Steven Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, describes people like Victoria who set a goal and do the necessary things to get there. His Habit Twobegin with the end in mind – describes the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you want to be and what you want, then you let other people and circumstances shape your life by default.
This idea – begin with the end in mind – can be applied to our current situation as we shelter in place during the pandemic. It forces us to take a different perspective.



Youth Frontiers’ COVID-19 Response

Youth Frontiers Logo and "Character Matters"

Friends of Youth Frontiers, 

In these times of challenge, our character will define us as a people and a community. 

There is no question that the current health situation due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting our retreats and our work with students, educators and community members. However, in times of fear and suffering, our mission — to inspire character and build community — becomes even more critical. Regardless of this present and evolving challenge, we at Youth Frontiers are committed to continuing to deliver messages of character. 

In the weeks and months ahead, we will be in touch with you to share ways in which YOU can partner with us to make sure our young people and those in our community respond to difficult times with character.

The health and wellbeing of our community is Youth Frontiers’ priority. While our response could evolve as new developments and recommendations emerge, we have decided to postpone the Counselors Breakfast in Omaha, NE, the Ethical Leadership Luncheon in Milwaukee, WI and Annual Event in Minneapolis, MN. We are postponing our retreats until Friday, March 27. We are also currently reevaluating in light of the current school closings how we continue to deliver our mission in a safe way that aligns with current health recommendations. We will continue to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Let us come together to support one another and model the character — kindness, courage, respect and responsibility — we want our young people to demonstrate. In the weeks ahead, there will be opportunities to model this in our neighborhoods with people who may be homebound, interactions with strangers in the checkout line or calming conversations with our children, families and friends. 

In all of our connections, let us be people who hold fear at bay and instead inspire hope.


Joe Cavanaugh
Founder & CEO
Youth Frontiers

P.S. If you are planning to visit one of our office locations, please call our main line at 952.922.0222. 

Monticello students participated in a Respect Retreat and the YFLC

It starts with respect

By Sarah Barchus, Youth Frontiers Communications Specialist

At Monticello High School, it all starts with respect. For the second year in a row, Monticello has held a Respect Retreat® for ninth graders on the first day of school.

The Respect Retreat helps new students get a picture of what the school values, Monticello’s Assistant Principal, John Reeves explained. “[It] helps us start the year off in a great way.”READ MORE


My Daughter, My Path to Reflection

By Joe Cavanaugh, Founder and CEO

Before my daughter Tess was born, I was always running from here to there, trying to accomplish as much as possible in what felt like as little time as possible. Sitting quietly, reflecting or meditating do not come naturally to me. Even when I would try to pause, far too often, the everyday pressures and daily grind would begin to creep in, swiftly ending my attempts to slow down and breathe.READ MORE


Get back in the game!

By Joe Cavanaugh

I never had the privilege of meeting my father-in-law, Don Leyden, but my wife Jane, her siblings and my mother-in-law often share stories of his life and parenting. He would often say to his four children after they experienced failure or adversity, “Pick up your mitt and get back in the game.”READ MORE

Joe and Tess

Declaring Humility in Vogue

At dinner the other night, we were sitting around our table and my wife, Jane, and I sensed that our 4th-grade daughter’s spirit was a bit melancholy. We thought something must have happened to Tess at school. As the daughter of an Irish-Italian father and a French-Bohemian mother, being quiet is a bit unusual in our family and raised a bit of an alarm. As any parent would do, we launched into a typical parent-child “self-esteem” soliloquy.READ MORE

Peter Yang

Our 2014 Character Award Winner

Remembering our history matters. It matters to remember the challenges we’ve overcome and the challenges we’re still faced with. And while it’s important to remember the big players in history, like on Monday when we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it’s also important to recognize those in our community who help affect change in smaller ways.READ MORE