Press Releases

SYP announces launch of two pilot programs in September 2012: 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 


                                                                                                                            Lauren Salay

Director of Public Relations, SYP



Shakti Youth Project will partner with youth groups in Baltimore, Md. and Arlington, Va. in September 2012

ARLINGTON, Va., August 28, 2012— Shakti Youth Project (SYP), a new nonprofit organization created to promote global awareness, self-awareness and a sense of self-efficacy in young people from underserved communities through yoga, today announced the launch of two pilot programs starting in September 2012. The organization will partner with both a Baltimore, Md.-area youth group and an Arlington, Va. middle school group at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

Established in January 2012, SYP earned 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit status in August 2012. The organization was founded by Elizabeth Auten, an Arlington-area certified social worker and yoga instructor, upon returning from a six-month service trip to Jiquililo, Nicaragua where she started a program to teach yoga, art, English, math and reading to 25 kids at a local community center. The program employed four local teens as mentors, facilitated a number of daily excursions and activities, and served as a foundation for SYP programming.

“Working with the children in Nicaragua, I saw firsthand that yoga transcends language, age and education. The kids were so willing to jump into whatever activity I offered them, whether it was practicing handstands, climbing a volcano or photographing local fisherman, and they all grew closer as a result,” said Auten, founder and executive director of Shakti Youth Project.  “Sustainable community growth is possible when we have the chance to break through our own perceived limits, to transcend social biases and personal doubt. By empowering youth to do just that, here in our local community as well as in Central America, we can create stronger communities and global leaders. Yoga is just one tool we use to break down the barriers and show students what’s possible in their lives.”

SYP programming is rooted in the practice of yoga, though teaching methods are strongly influenced by the latest research in psychology and evidence-based practices for working with youth in and outside of school settings. The September 2012 pilot programs in Baltimore and Arlington will incorporate various elements designed to support self-study and growth, such as regular yoga sessions, discussion, community service and one-on-one counseling. When possible, the groups will be connected, along with the Jiquililo, Nicaragua community, to encourage interaction and relationship building between youth of different backgrounds and cultures.

In SYP programs, yoga practice is introduced first to encourage participation and cohesion within the student group, then as a tool to teach mindfulness and self-awareness, creating the opportunity for additional programming to promote intellectual growth and mobility. Every program is evaluated through a pre- and post- test with student participants.

For more information on Shakti Youth Project, upcoming programs and service trips, visit or contact Lauren Salay, director of public relations, at 724-561-2460.

About Elizabeth Auten

Elizabeth Auten holds a master’s degree in social work from the renowned Global Practice program at Boston College. Prior to founding Shakti Youth Project, she worked with inner-city youth in Baltimore, Md. and low-income international families in Arlington, Va. In addition, Elizabeth has lived and worked in several Latin American Countries, including Peru, El Salvador and Nicaragua, where she helped introduce programming to support youth and community development. She is a RYT-200 yoga instructor and certified life coach.

About Shakti Youth Project

Shakti Youth Project is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in January 2012 to promote global awareness, self-awareness and a sense of self-efficacy in young people in underserved and impoverished communities of the U.S. and Central America.  Seeking to build a movement around social learning as an essential aspect of secondary education, the organization aims to support sustainable growth in communities by implementing research-based programming that empowers youth to break through their own perceived limits, biases and personal misconceptions . Shakti Youth Project is dedicated to creating opportunities for youth for personal growth, cross-cultural connection and exploration through yoga practice, meditation, travel and service. For more information, visit

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