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Meet Dan Bailey of Just Say YES in Richardson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Bailey.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I worked in sales and marketing for two Fortune 500 companies over a combined 22 years. During the last two years of my corporate career, I did something very dangerous – I started to volunteer once a month as a speaker in the public schools.

I developed a talk on character, choices and consequences. The group I volunteered through liked my presentation enough to film it and train 14 other speakers to give the same classroom presentation. After speaking for 18 months, I was hooked! I told my wife one day, “I am more passionate about reaching students with this message than I am about closing a multi-million dollar computer sale.” I expected her to say, “Here, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” Instead she said, “Wow! Let’s pray about that!” Which we did and over the next six months it became very clear that this is what we were being called to do. I gave my notice at work and shortly thereafter went to work as the Executive Director for a nonprofit who gave programs in schools across the nation. Two years later in 2002, I left there to start Just Say YES – Youth Equipped to Succeed.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has been exciting and always taking unexpected turns. As we listen to the schools we serve, their needs have changed throughout the years and we have had to adjust accordingly. The areas where schools need our help have expanded from drugs and alcohol, to now increased requests for topics such as anti-bullying, body image, eating disorders, suicide prevention, dating violence and social media safety. Our approach was very assembly focused as first, but the need for more social emotional learning opportunities caused us to add the classroom peer-to-peer mentoring component to our school program offerings. Our funding has been from a variety of sources and while there have been challenging financial times; God has always connected the dots for us to grow to the next level.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Just Say YES – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Just Say YES is a nonprofit organization that provides assembly programs for students, educators and parents as well as a student mentoring program to address character development and other related topics. Since its founding in 2002, Just Say YES has given assembly programs in 39 states, impacting more than 1 million students. Our goal is to empower students across the nation to say YES to their dreams and goals and no to destructive choices such as drugs, alcohol, gang violence, sexual activity and bullying.

Program funding has come through individual donors, corporations, private foundations and directly from schools; we have never received a government grant.

Our Just Say YES motivational youth speakers are the-best-of-the-best. The élite roster features speakers who have established followings, vast experience, and possess the genuine passion to empower today’s youth. Each speaker has their own powerful story and style, which allows us to work closely with K-12 campus administrators, counselors and parent leadership to establish which program will best fit their specific needs.

We also provide a peer-to-peer mentoring program exclusively in the DFW area. Utilizing the FRIENDS FIRST curriculum, this particular approach is entirely unique from any other mentoring structure found in today’s public schools. The program is student-led, in which high school upperclassmen/women mentor underclassmen/women. The mentors are equipped with leadership skills through weekly meetings with their Just Say YES program coordinators, who serve as adult mentors. The program coordinator and mentors meet weekly with mentees to build supportive relationships, do community service projects and focus on skills necessary for setting positive futures in motion.

School administrators have witnessed immense growth in the at-risk students who participate in the Just Say YES mentoring program, and because of its impact, they have chosen to implement it during the school day as a class period, as opposed to it being a before/after school program like most. They are also financially investing in this program by allotting funds out of their annual budget. For the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, the program will be implemented at seven different DFW campuses, including high schools in Dallas ISD, Duncanville ISD, Garland ISD, Fort Worth ISD and Uplift Education.

We are also extremely excited and honored that CORE (Center of Research and Evaluation) at Southern Methodist University is currently doing research and evaluation on our peer-to-peer mentoring program. They have just completed Phase 1 of 3 in their study.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
There are multiple factors that are inputted into our measure of success. It is important to us to have schools embrace our programs over multiple years for campus-wide impact, which we call the JSY Campus Impact Plan. Another major marker for us is the expansion of our peer-to-peer mentoring. Last school year, we had five programs on five high school campuses and we are on pace to have nine programs on seven campuses this fall. Another area we track is our number of assembly programs. Last year we gave 341 programs, which is a 19 percent increase from the prior year. These measurements and milestones are important but what really keeps us motivated are the multiple personal stories of students’ lives that have been positively impacted by one or more of our programs.


  • • $200 could cover the cost for one Just Say YES mentor to attend the MentorLife Retreat
  • • $430 could cover the registration fee for one Just Say YES mentor to attend the FRIENDS FIRST STARS National Conference held every summer at Regis University in Denver, CO
  • • $500 could cover the cost of travel expenses (airfare, hotel, etc.) for one student to attend the FRIENDS FIRST STARS National Conference
  • • $750 could provide one Student Assembly, potentially impacting more than 700 students (cost varies by speaker and program)
  • • $2,500- could provide a Staff Development Program at one campus; improving teachers’ motivation, communication and preventing burnout (cost varies by speaker and program)
  • • $27,750 could underwrite 6 months of the Just Say YES Campus Impact Plan – An overall comprehensive strategy that addresses many areas of need for a school, which includes: the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program; student assemblies, staff development and parent programs
  • • $55,500 could underwrite a full year of the Just Say YES Campus Impact Plan
  • Monthly Gifts: A monthly donation helps form a predictable source of income we can count on to help fund programs and further our mission to empower students. It’s the easiest way to give and ensure that Just Say YES receives your ongoing support. Your recurring monthly donation means, together, we can help students say YES to their dreams and goals and no to destructive choices.
  • • $25
  • • $100
  • • $500
  • • $1,000

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lori Wilson Photography
By The Parkers
Payge Stevens Photography (Dan’s headshot only)

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