Nonprofit YES celebrates 20 years of making a difference in the lives of students

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- The nonprofit organization YES on Thursday celebrated 20 years making a difference in the lives of local students.

Some of the organization's top supporters were also recognized for helping make it happen.

Just a few months ago, students involved in YES graduated from high school. Now they're getting college educations, with many attending some of the country's best universities.

YES, or Young Eisner Scholars, seeks out promising kids in underserved communities and provides them with the resources and academic skills they need to excel.

Jesus Rivera was a seventh grader when he joined the program.

"I just graduated from Columbia this spring. I'm very happy now to be an alum, but it's been an amazing time being part of the YES scholars," he said.

Rivera is one of several proud scholars who joined the celebration in Beverly Hills marking the 20th anniversary of YES.

Bob Iger, the executive chairman of the Walt Disney Co. and chairman of the board of directors, and his wife Willow Bay, were honored for their longtime support of the organization.

"We know that not all children are given the same opportunity for a good quality education, as certainly as ours had that opportunity," Iger said. "That was just really important to us, that more people, more children get the opportunity that privileged children get."

Bay, the dean of USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, says years ago they learned that YES scholars from Lennox were classmates of their own children at a West Hollywood school and found a way to help the families.

"A bunch of families got together and chartered a bus for the students so that their parents wouldn't have to drive from Lennox to West Hollywood and then back to their jobs every day," Bay said.

YES has good reason to celebrate - 100% of the program's students go to college.

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