You think you had serious problems in high school?

Yuriria, a teenager from Hercules, California, had real problems. She had been picking up her younger brother from school every day since she was nine years old, making the 90-minute daily trek from San Francisco to Hercules. When she got home, she felt unsafe in her environment.

In 2012, Yuriria found her real home with the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco. Yuriria’s mentors at the Club encouraged her to rise above these challenges. Yuriria also become a leader in her community. She turned her focus away from the very difficult things she couldn’t control such as her home situation, and remaining focused on her goal of being the first in her family to go to college. She started volunteering, got a part time job, and opened up to the support offered from the staff at BGCSF. She took the opportunity to build a foundation of safety, support, and consistency at the Club. Through focus and determination, she overcame many obstacles and was recently accepted into Sacramento State College. To recognize Yuriria for overcoming overhwelmingly difficult personal challenges through commitment to community, education and herself, she was awarded the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year for San Francisco 2014.

For more than 100 years, the Boys and Girls Club mission has been to enable thousands of young people to realize their full potential. They believe that young people can accomplish extraordinary things when they have access to the right environment with skilled and caring mentors.

We are huge supporters of the Boys and Girls Club mission. We also believe storytelling is one of the core skills that can help young people build confidence and share their inspiring stories and world changing ideas.

Once a year, LinkedIn offers Transformation Grants, which are awarded to employees to support their efforts to transform themselves, their families, their communities and/or the world.

I was lucky enough to be awarded one of these grants to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco on a Youth Storytelling Program. Over the last eight weeks, we built a core team of subject matter experts and volunteers to design a program that introduces valuable storytelling skills to help youth succeed in landing a first job or college acceptance. This program teaches the basics of great storytelling through the Hero’s Journey. One step at a time, participants build their own story using a hero from their own life. Throughout the process, they build confidence and conviction, learn what makes great stories and deliver their own story to the world.

Two weeks ago, we launched the first version of the program to the leaders at the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco. With their incredible feedback, our plan is to spread the skill of storytelling to the 600 youth at the San Francisco Club, and potentially scale the program even broader.

So in the spirit of storytelling, here’s a visual story from our first session.