Project YESS: Youth Empowered to Succeed through Sailing is a program of The Cleveland Rotary Foundation offering opportunities for underserved youth to learn more about themselves, their community, and the vast resources of the great lakes.


The vision of Project YESS is to change the lives of a select group of Cleveland youth.  The program teaches them about water navigation, sailing, working as a team, self-esteem, and leadership while exposing them to a world many never knew existed. After completing a five-part training program, Project YESS participants, ages 14-17, have the privilege of crewing on a 3-day sail on a tall ship on Lake Erie. 


Sail Training is an internationally-recognized and academically-proven strategy that uses sailing as a medium to build confidence and life skills.  Trainees learn the value of maintaining effective communication, camaraderie, discipline, and respect for one another while serving the broader needs of the ship.


The goal of Project YESS is to provide an educational adventure during which youth will develop character, leadership, and relevant life-skills that can be transitioned to careers within and outside of the maritime industry.  Sail training requires participants to confront many demanding challenges, both physical and emotional.  It is an activity that inspires self-confidence and the acceptance of personal responsibility, promotes an acceptance of others whatever their social or cultural backgrounds, and develops a willingness to take controlled risks.