New Non-profit Issues Cookie Challenge

C’YA News:

Last month, the IRS granted non-profit, 501-C-3 status to Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA) in Los Alamos.

The youth development organization is a hands-on organization for the purposes of providing additional education opportunities and experiences that engage youth, their families and communities. The projects range from hands-on science education in elementary classrooms, to teaching leadership for middle school students and community celebrations.

“My husband and I asked people we enjoy spending time with to sit on a board of directors for a new youth-serving organization and they stuck with the process that essentially took two years,” C’YA Executive Director Bernadette Lauritzen said.

The board is made up of women in education, health and music backgrounds who believe in the mission of helping youth to be successful in their endeavors.

The board membership is comprised of President Valerie Adams Harris, Vice President Pauline Powell Schneider, Secretary Debra Minyard, Treasurer Karen Greenfield and Board Member Megan Pfeffer.

Board meetings are conducted in the Lauritzen home and like one big family, always involve dinner in the process.

“I come from an Italian background and I wanted meetings not to be another thing people had to do, but to be something the members looked forward to for a chance to relax, socialize and also accomplish some good things for youth,” Lauritzen said. “Now that we’re official, I hope to expand it so that they can bring family members to eat and socialize while we step away for a little work.”

Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA) made its first official debut at the Los Alamos County Fair and Rodeo, Chad the Sci Guy, who teaches at several local elementary schools, as well as Dixon and Pojoaque schools, offered free, hands-on science for youth.

“I believe that all kids are our kids and just because they go off the hill at the end of the day, doesn’t mean they aren’t a part of our community,” Lauritzen said. “In the same way, we can offer great experiences to youth who don’t go to school here, but whose parents work here and spend money here.”

The groups first attempt to fundraise encourages the same people who accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to accept the first annual Cookie Plate Challenge.

“We’re hoping that community members will bake a plate of cookies for an unsuspecting recipient, perhaps a neighbor or a co-worker or instead, donate $5 to Champions of Youth Ambitions,” Lauritzen said. “It doesn’t matter which one people chose, because someone wins in each situation. We want to issue the first challenge to the alumni of Leadership Los Alamos and encourage them to get to some baking.”

C’YA has established an account at Los Alamos National Bank for donation. For more information email

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