Laura Keefe '05

Laura Schmitz Keefe started the youth mentoring program YELLS (Youth Empowering through Learning, Leading and Serving). The program matches high school student mentors with elementary school students in creating large-scale service projects, such as a local community garden.

Joe Belle Memorial Award 2013

For volunteer service to students and early career achievement

Joe Belle made significant contributions to the University of Dayton's Catholic and Marianist character through his exceptional caring about people.

The Joe Belle Memorial Award is designed to recognize young alumni who carry that same spirit and have shown great promise and accomplishment in their chosen profession and/or service to their community or to the University of Dayton and its mission. To be eligible, candidates must have graduated from the University of Dayton within the past 10 years.

Laura Schmitz Keefe '05
Bachelor of Science, Adolescence to Young Adult Education

Laura Schmitz Keefe took the University of Dayton’s learn, lead, serve tradition to heart and to work, starting the Marietta, Ga., youth mentoring program YELLS (Youth Empowering through Learning, Leading and Serving).

The program matches high school student mentors with elementary school students in creating large-scale service projects, such as a local community garden. The goal? To ensure that young people in Marietta have voice and value, develop leadership skills, build confidence and character, excel academically, build collaborative networks and work for positive change.

“YELLS has been a medium where I can actively change a life and manipulate my own life to be what I want it to be,” wrote one participant.

A former high school English teacher, Keefe’s students inspired her to start YELLS. “They come alive when you give them ownership of a project, and they’re empowered when you enable them to have a voice. I wanted to do more than make a difference; I wanted to teach the next generation to want to change the world,” she said.

Now in its fifth year, YELLS also recruits Flyers from the Atlanta alumni chapter as volunteers. “We did Christmas off Campus with YELLS in 2011, and we’ve had a wonderful experience. I’m so pleased that Laura is being recognized with this award,” said Erin Brick-McManus ’97, chapter president.