In 2005 D. Gary Young began to explore the possibilities of farming year-round in Ecuador. In 2006, he found the perfect place to begin work on a new farm and distillery—raw, dense, unwanted, and untouched jungle on the edge of the remote town of Chongon about 40 miles from the Guayaquil airport.

One day, after passing through Chongon and driving toward the jungle down a windy dirt road, Gary saw on the corner of a turn in the road, close to the farm, the “local” schoolhouse that had been built with cinder blocks in 1959. It had no water, no electricity, and only holes in the walls to let the light in, along with all the road dust; and the bathroom was a hole in the ground enclosed with broken and chipped cinder blocks. It was a deplorable sight for the 42 children who attended with one teacher for all grades, who showed up about three times a week; so Gary decided he had to change what looked to be a hopeless future for all of them.

Gary designed and drew the architectural plans for the school.
Gary teaches the academy students about distillation.
The Young Living Academy opened its doors in March of 2007 to almost double the number of children attending the old school. People were astounded at such a beautiful school in rural Chongon about five minutes from the farm, and now students come from all over Guayaquil, hoping to attend the Academy. Nigh classes for literacy are offered for the parents, who can neither read nor write, as well as beginning English.
Gary has a passion for helping children like these young girls, who loved the books that he gave them.

Gary drew the plans, met with the Chongon town council, and construction began. A director was found, teachers were hired, and the doors of the Young Living Academy opened in March of 2007. The school was built only for the children attending the dilapidated old school, but more than double that number showed up the first day. The word spread and more and more children came. Classrooms were divided and soon plans were made to expand and build onto the existing building. A year later a preschool was built, and then more additions were added for the high school.

A large number of Young Living members have donated to the school through what is now The D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation; and the Sponsor a Child Program has been extremely successful. More and more children want to attend the academy that was already “bulging at the seams.”

It was hard to imagine such a modern school in the rural community of Chongon, but more than 340 children have had a previously unimagined opportunity to have a bright and progressive life. Early in 2016, 2017, and 2018, many Young Living members, parents, teachers, and students celebrated the first three graduating classes of the Young Living Academy. Each year, 100 percent of the senior class graduated—an unheard-of accomplishment. The students are happy and filled with the excitement of so many possibilities for a bright and productive future.

With the establishment of the Foundation in 2009, Gary solidified his commitment to serving those in need. The Foundation seeks to empower underserved children throughout the world, and Gary worked to help them grow into thriving adults capable of providing for their families, serving as leaders, and affecting positive, forward-thinking change in their communities. The Foundation works in the U.S. and around the world to house and feed the homeless, provide relief in the wake of natural disasters, free victims of human trafficking, fund orphanages, and provide health care, among other endeavors.