It’s a tale that’s been told many times by our Young Living brand partners and friends: how Gary Young, on his way to the company’s Finca Botanica Farm in 2008, caught sight of a crumbling cinder-block building surrounded by children of all ages and discovered that it housed a crude school.
It had no water or electricity, and only holes in the walls to let light, rain, road dust, and bugs in. The bathroom was a hole in the ground enclosed with broken and chipped cinder blocks. Forty-two children were taught by one teacher for all grades, about three times a week.
That discovery prompted the beginning of what has become a nonprofit helping hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year. It’s a tale that continues to grow, involving and inviting all who want to make a difference for others, and in fact, marks the completion of its twelfth “chapter” today.
The big day
April 14, 2009 was the day the Young Living Academy opened its doors in the community of Chongón, Ecuador and the day that The D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation started. That was the day Gary and Mary Young began to glimpse both the reward for what they had done in the gleeful eyes of the many students that arrived (far more than the original school had ever housed), and the scope of what else could be accomplished for similar communities on other continents.
In the twelve years since that day, many brand partners, sponsors, donors, and community members have banded together through the Foundation to support the expansion of the Academy and the construction, rebuilding, or maintenance of a number of schools in Nepal, India, the U.S., South Africa, Mexico, and the Philippines.
In fact, the Academy has since added a high school, a covered outdoor amphitheater, primary and band rooms, and soccer and baseball fields. Today, more than 350 children are receiving a solid education through the Young Living Academy, and some have graduated and gone on to pursue higher education, something that was previously unimaginable in that community. In April 2019 students, faculty, community members, and Young Living members celebrated the tenth anniversary of their school, and the Academy gained International Baccalaureate--or IB accreditation--in 2021.
Thus, the Foundation’s first focus pillar has become embodied in this creed:
meaning it helps open doors of opportunity through traditional and vocational education, skills building, and leadership development.
And the story of the Foundation continues with the development of Bromelia, a women’s artisan cooperative in Ecuador. These mothers, like many others, have seen the “hand up” that the Foundation has given their children who attend the Academy, have witnessed the belief that so many people have shown in them, and have coalesced into an emboldened group of people working to improve their lives and their communities.
The Foundation works with them, as they do with other women’s artisans groups around the world, to connect their handcrafted items to the vibrant Young Living marketplace. As they earn a steadier, fairer income, they lift themselves and their families, breaking the generational cycle of poverty and starting on a more upward-bound trajectory.
Thus, the Foundation’s second focus pillar is clearly and inextricably related to the first:
meaning empowering women worldwide to break the generational cycle of poverty for their children by investing in small businesses and fair-trade enterprises.
As the Foundation’s education and enterprise efforts spread across the globe, so did the realization that poverty wasn’t the only villain in this story. That part was also played by a more sinister character: human trafficking, which stole not only dreams from children and their families, but also freedom.
Thus arose the third, related pillar:
meaning protecting the vulnerable from losing their freedoms to abuse and human trafficking
Thus armed with laser focus, backed by Young Living Essential Oil’s coverage of all the Foundation’s administrative expenses, and propelled by members and donors the world over, the Academy and the Foundation continue to tell their story, one that is no longer just a tale of the growth of Gary and Mary’s vision but also one of the power of unity, of what happens when people overlook their differences to focus on solutions.
It’s a never-ending narrative of unconditional love and encouragement. It’s the story of the ability every human has to look outside of themselves and make the impossible true.