Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established in 1992 providing young adults from ages 16 to 24 the opportunity to learn hands-on job skills and earn an income, all while serving local communities. Rooted in the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, MHYC addresses the employment and educational needs of youth by focusing their skills on projects that benefit the surrounding community.
In its first year, MHYC employed 20 youth (known as Corps members) through a single, 10-week program focused on neighborhoods in Denver. Today, MHYC engages over 220 Corps members each year with projects focused in neighborhoods, public lands, and open spaces throughout Metro Denver and the Southern Front Range of Colorado. Each program integrates paid work experience with leadership development, career exploration, and education.
MHYC programs are nationally recognized, while actively addressing local needs. From recent fires, floods mitigation and restoration efforts, to the construction of affordable housing and lowering water and energy usage in more than 20,000 homes, MHYC matches the talents and skills of local youth with the needs of the community. The organization has a 25 year track record of engaging youth in work that addresses environmental concern and provides pathways to a promising future.
In addition, MHYC provides intensive street outreach and hosts community gatherings to promote awareness of its services and programs. These methods bring in hundreds of applicants, with nearly 40% of all youth applying to MHYC simply by word of mouth.
There are three career pathways available to Corps members upon acceptance into the program: energy and water conservation, health and wellness, and construction. Energy and water conservation – the most recent career pathway addition – launched in 2006 and has proven tremendously successful. To date, the program has served over 45,000 households free of charge in the Denver Metro region. Members employed by MHYC conduct energy and water audits for low-income households and then make the subsequent improvements necessary based on each audit.
Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) began our partnership with the organization when MHYC moved into the Social Enterprise Foundry, a collaborative home ULC acquired in 2014 for triple bottom line nonprofits to train, employ, and empower individuals in the community. Located in the Sun Valley neighborhood, The Foundry envisions a community that supports all individuals by providing meaningful employment opportunities, responsibly managing natural resources, and investing in financially sustainable businesses and nonprofits.
“The Foundry has really been a godsend for us,” – said Brigid McRaith, MHYC’s CEO for the past three years. “It has been a catalyst for collaborating with other great organizations, and we are close to transit so our youth employees can get to work easier. It’s also reduced our overhead. We were having to move our water and energy conservation programs every year due to rising rental costs.”
McRaith has over 20 years of experience in youth development, joining MHYC in 2008. She has successfully guided the organization through reaching their targeted goals in their strategic plan, concluding in 2020, and has significant growth projected over the next decade.
MHYC relies on support from the community to maintain and grow its programs and services. Their revenue consists of 52% earned income from revenue generated from services they provide, a federal grant from the Department of Labor, and philanthropic funds including individual donors and foundations. If you are interested in supporting MHYC to help ensure they meet the growing demand for their services and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead, click here.