No Excuses University

  • Yelm Community Schools first began working with author and education leader Damen Lopez in 2015. Damen Lopez was a highly successful teacher and principal who created the No Excuses University organization. No Excuses promotes College and Career readiness at the first stages of school.  Damen’s leadership resulted in his elementary school, Los Penasquitos, grow from a low rated school to California’s top rated school, despite high levels of poverty and a high percentage of non-English native speaking students and families.

    No Excuses University is not a program, but rather a method of organization of six systems that, when exceptional, lead to high levels of student growth and a belief that all students will have the choice to move on in their education after graduation. The six systems are:

    • A culture of universal achievement
    • Collaboration
    • Standards alignment
    • Assessment
    • Data management
    • Interventions

    Last year Damen Lopez was our district’s keynote speaker at our kick-off of the 2016-17 school year. During the year, many of our schools completed book studies, completed activities to build a culture of universal achievement, and to learn more about building exceptional systems. Principals and teachers have attended No Excuses University Institutes as well.  

    All of our schools will have the option of applying to become a No Excuses University Network School.  It must be a commitment made by the critical mass of the school’s staff. To do so, schools will have to show examples of exceptional systems and a commitment to grow. Our district commitment is to support any school that chooses to apply to the network. There is minimal cost, but incredible access to resources and examples from other network schools.  

    The premise of No Excuses University aligns perfectly with our board goals of

    1. Yelm Community Schools will become exemplary on all academic performance measures
    2. Each student will be on a path (starting in kindergarten) to graduation, continuing education and work.

    Our relationship with Damen Lopez and his organization provide great motivation and resources to our schools.  To learn more at No Excuses go to