CYL is a pathway to a more engaged teenager. Certainly they’ll have a better resume for whatever life throws at them next, but more than that, they’ll be equipped for a better life.

We provide the tools, guidance, and opportunity for your high school student to lead not just in the future, but also today. Through our Summit Program, they’ll develop a clear passion and purpose, a heart for others, and the confidence to explore the impact they can make.


The CYL program offers a safe community of like-minded peers. Each student is supported by caring and expert staff with the collective purpose of a stronger future for your student and our community.

Practically, that looks like these three activities:


Regular discussions on what true leadership looks like.


Fun and challenging opportunities to make an impact for others.


Students can access our wide network of nonprofit partners to serve for causes they believe in.

The program takes students through four stages – each named after one of Colorado’s 14er summits on the famous Decalibron Loop trail.

In year one, students are encouraged to serve and explore as much as possible with a diverse collection of opportunities. In the years after, they’re guided to narrow their focus for greater impact in a cause they believe in. The student’s journey culminates in a larger Legacy Project. What their path looks like is largely up to them. We’re along for their ride, ready with guidance, resources, and tools to fully support their dreams of impact.


After teaching high schoolers from diverse ethnic and resourced backgrounds for the better part of a decade, Nicole Mahobian was concerned. Her students, regardless of their GPA, were not graduating with clear perspective, purpose, or passion. They were floating – some achieving and others falling behind – but both entering the the real world without knowing what they wanted to be about or what role they could play.

Mahobian knew more could be offered.

In December 2013, she founded Colorado Young Leaders (CYL). Built on the foundation that youth were profoundly capable, CYL would work with parents, schools, non-profits, and community leaders to offer the kind of opportunity and guidance students needed to cultivate a clear passion & purpose, a heart for others, and the confidence to explore the difference they can make in the community.

United with a dozen young people, Mahobian led the organization’s first service adventure – a week long volunteer trip supporting the adaptive athletes of the National Sports Center for the Disabled. Since then, hundreds of young people have discovered what’s possible when they look up from their phones and get out to serve their community.


“In our family, we believe that leadership is developed through volunteer, athletic and academic experiences. What enticed my son about CYL was the lineup of activities – kayaking with autistic kids, volunteering after school at Colfax Community Network, doing Adaptive Ski Program at Keystone. There were a couple of opportunities each week, and after testing the waters, he found his “thing” volunteering at CCN.” – Liz Palmquist, Mother of 1 CYL Youth

“As a parent of two teens that have been part of CYL for the past 4 years I can’t say enough great things about this organization. CYL has opened their eyes to the beauty and adventure that is at their doorstep, the needs that exists within their community, and how to be a leader that participates and makes a change. As a result, they are becoming truly compassionate, empathetic and adventurous young adults; they are becoming the leaders we need in our world.” – Stephanie Mendrala, Mother of 2 CYL Youth

“Every parent wants their child to be happy but, more importantly, we want them to live a life of purpose and know that they are needed. We are tremendously grateful to all of the CYL mentors that shaped our daughter into the young woman she is today. She was challenged and supported to be her best self and came away quietly confident. She experienced leadership positions that she would not have gained for years.” – Maria Wischmeyer,
Mother of 1 CYL Youth

“Leadership is the responsibility is to just taking the initiative – even if it’s on a small scale. It’s taking the initiative, taking the steps, to do what you know you can.” – Max A., ’17

“You can’t fail at something if you got better because of it. Now you may know how to handle that situation better in the future. Maybe you have more skills or maybe you have a better strategy, but it’s not a failure because success is closer next time. As long as you keep pushing with a positive attitude you will always get something from every situation no matter what.” – Molly C., ’17

“Leadership is something that encompasses many things, and cannot be defined in just one way. Some of the most important pillars of good leadership are providing your team with the opportunities and tools to succeed in whatever task they may want to accomplish, leading for the purpose of bettering the environment around you, and inspiring others.” – Emily B., ’19

“As you go into a CYL activity, age doesn’t matter, and background doesn’t matter. All that matters is you’re making a difference.” – Riley R., ’20

“It’s about giving students opportunity early in their life to discover what their strengths are. And to see that, ‘Yeah, I may be 15 and I may not know everything to know about the world, but I bring something that’s unique and that’s valued in the community.’ So I think letting kids step up and take a risk and see what they’re capable of maybe earlier than might have otherwise done so is incredibly important.” – Layne Pratt, Executive Director of Challenge Denver

“Youth are longing for opportunities to test themselves and start making a difference in the world. CYL calls out that passion, validates it, and provides the structure and guidance for it to be unleashed in truly constructive ways. We couldn’t be more pleased to have these teens being an example to our kids.“ – Kelley Birschbach, Colfax Community Network

“They are some of the most highly motivated kids that I see come through the program. They are ready to dive in. They ask questions, trying to dig deeper, how can they get more invovled and how they can get others involved. They just seem to take a genuine interest in what we’re doing.” – Alison Bell, Youth & Families Coordinator for Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado