Elevate Youth, a Boston nonprofit committed to providing life-changing outdoor experiences for underserved communities, announces a new leader for the organization.

BOSTON, MA, June 03, 2024 /24-7PressRelease/ — Elevate Youth, a local nonprofit dedicated to cultivating a lifelong love of the outdoors and empowering the next generation of diverse environmental stewards by offering impactful outdoor experiences to underserved communities, announces Chaya Harris, former National Program Director at Outdoor Afro, as its new Executive Director beginning May 28, 2024.

“I’m so proud of the work that Elevate Youth staff delivers, and I’m honored to lead the team,” said Harris. “I especially look forward to diving into Camp Elevate this summer, magnifying our Odyssey and Leaders programs, and furthering opportunities for young people to connect with nature,” states Harris.

Harris has served as a board member for Elevate Youth since 2021, engaging with staff to reach more than 200 youth through outdoor trips and out-of-school enrichment in 2023. Her new role will include continuing to grow school relationships, serving current community organizations, building new partnerships, and pursuing funding opportunities for diverse programs throughout the community.

“When you see a child persevere through a challenging activity like mountain biking or surfing, and then they smile about everything they’ve learned; it’s the type of organization I wish I had growing up.”

“I could not be more excited to see the continued growth of Elevate Youth’s impact under the leadership of Chaya, she brings such a wealth of programmatic experience, and her passion to make a difference is undeniable,” said Alec Griswold, Founder and outgoing Executive Director of Elevate Youth.

Elevate Youth, founded in 2017 by Griswold, empowers young people aged 10–14 to explore nature and outdoor recreation alongside adult mentors. Now in its seventh year, the organization has led 665 outdoor trips and enrichment sessions for over 1100 students from urban areas. Griswold’s involvement will continue as a board member and offer support to Harris through the leadership transition.

Harris, who is from Dorchester, is an educator, adventurer, and leader passionate about access to nature and high-quality outdoor experiences. Throughout the years, Harris has worked and volunteered with underserved communities to promote access to the often transformational and healing experience of being in nature. She most recently served as the National Program Director at Outdoor Afro, leading recreational events focused on wellness in the Black community. Harris also held the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center, working closely with the Boston Public School staff to help facilitate hands-on adventures in Boston Harbor. Before working at nonprofits, Harris was an educator in Boston Public Schools for a decade. She later joined the Lynch Leadership Academy at Boston College and served as a Principal Fellow at Mendell Elementary School.

Elevate Youth (EY) is dedicated to sparking a lifelong love of the outdoors and elevating the next generation of diverse environmental stewards. EY collaborates with Boston area schools, community organizations, and volunteer mentors to facilitate outdoor enrichment programs for underserved youth as a way to foster agency, encourage holistic, healthy lifestyles, and equip youth with critical life skills so they can reach their full potential. EY programs are 100% free for all youth and include transportation, equipment, instructors/guides, healthy provisions, and weather-appropriate clothing.

Since launching in 2017, EY has empowered over 1100 students and led 665 outdoor trips and enrichment sessions. To discover more visit: www.elevateyouth.org.

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