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About us

The Institute of Youth Development and Excellence (IYDE) is a non-profit organization that has developed effective and efficient programs and methods that help effect positive character change in youth, through mentoring.  We help communities overcome typical challenges faced with starting, developing and maintaining effective youth programs with a customized turn-key solution. We combine the best of mentoring, character development and individual and group activities. We build relevance in the lives of the youth through
experiential learning and an understanding of the issues the youth face.

IYDE was founded in June, 2007 by Riyad Shamma. For almost twenty years Riyad had worked with youth as an advisor, mentor, coach and counselor.  Despite the success of individual camps or events, he found that the persistent challenge facing the youth was long term change. There was an incorrect assumption that after a camp, conference or retreat that youth would go back to their communities and continue to be nurtured.  Most communities did not have sufficient staff or volunteers to work with all of the youth in a personalized way and relied on weekend schools or youth groups to meet the need.  Even when communities had a full time youth director, it is simply not possible for them to give regular personal attention to every youth in the community.

IYDE was founded to provide the youth of our communities trained mentors who would be able to work with them personally and help them to develop and enhance life skills, positive character and personal growth.  By training a team of volunteers as skilled mentors, the youth will be better able to benefit from programs offered by the community as well as maximize their potential.

About the Founder

Riyad Shamma is the founder and Executive Director of the Institute of Youth Development and Excellence. His work spans over 30 years in the vanguard of Muslim youth development in the USA. His work with the youth has been parallel to his work as an industrial engineer, counselor, and adjunct imam and khateeb in his community and at different masjids in Ohio and Northern Ky.

It was in his capacity as youth program developer, organizer and counselor for ISNA’s MYNA and MSA that he found the need to develop a new concept of youth programing that more consistently and locally addressed the youth’s needs and that would be easily replicable. His mentorship concept was unique in its sustainability, longevity and adaptability to each community, furthermore the concept intended to fill an aspect that current youth programing did not address in Muslim.

  • Established 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to create an environment for middle school and high school aged youth to develop a firm identity of self, strong moral character, civic responsibility and an excellence in their actions and behavior.
  • Developed and implemented Ohio’s most extensive mentor certification program.
  •  Developed and implemented community training programs for mentor training and youth group development and enhancement, targeting organizational boards, parents, adult volunteers, and youth.
  • Mentored youth in planning and implementing national and regional seminars, camps and conferences.
    Mentored youth in leadership positions to ensure responsibilities were fulfilled and to promote personal
    growth and development.
  • Board experience: MYNA board of advisors, IAC and IEC
  • President of Computer Work Solutions 1995- present, Director of IYDE since 2007
  • Speaker and presenter at Xavier University, University of Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College, ISNA, MYNA, IVY tech State College, various local churches, on the topics of youth development, mentoring, counseling, community outreach, non-profits, fundraising, conflict resolution, community development, leadership, project planning, non-profit management
  •  Methodology and moderated focus groups with target consumers. workshop facilitator for families and youth, strategic planning, life coaching. Volunteer training
  • Chaplain for Boone County Jail.

Riyad Shamma was born in Cincinnati and has long been an active member of the community. He has a BA and MS in Industrial Engineering and is completing his PhD in Nonprofit Management. Riyad has been active in youth work for over 20 years with the Muslim Youth of North America and Muslim Student Association.

  • He serves as a part time Imam in the local Cincinnati Muslim community, including prison ministry and hospital chaplaincy, for the last 12 years.
  • He has spoken nationally and at several universities.
  • He is the founder and currently serving as Executive Director of the Institute of Youth Development and Excellence, which works with youth on improving and perfecting character.