Joe Cavanaugh


Joe Cavanaugh '81 Founder, Youth Frontiers, Inc.

Cavanaugh is a nationally known advocate promoting timeless values and personal character to audiences of all ages. With over 25 years of experience working with young people, he is one of the foremost communicators to youth on the topics of respect, integrity, courage and compassion.  
In 1987, Cavanaugh founded Youth Frontiers, Inc., a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that partners with schools across the country to create more positive school communities. Through programs that help young people realize the importance of living a life of character, Youth Frontiers is transforming the day-to-day experience in schools across America so that our schools - and therefore our kids - can thrive. 
Youth Frontiers is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that delivers programs to improve school climate and strengthen student character. Its purpose is to let young people know there's a better way to live, to teach character, and to honor and support educators in their critical work with young people.

This past school year YF delivered 680 retreats for youth adding 90,000 youth served to their total of over 1 million youth served in the life of the organization..  YF now has outreach staff reaching youth in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.  Youth Frontiers' work has impacted more than one million students in 4th to 12th grades.  Their work with students and educators has received national acclaim. YF's primary work is to provide powerful retreats with the vision of changing the way young people treat each other in every hallway, lunch line, and classroom of every school in America so that today's young people can make tomorrow's world better. 

Prior to starting Youth Frontiers, Cavanaugh was the Youth Minister at Lady of Grace Church in Edina.   Cavanaugh has been the subject of countless newspaper articles as well as radio and television interviews including "The Osgood Report" on CBS radio and a 90-minute PBS television special titled Respectfully, Joe Cavanaugh. He has been recognized by General Colin Powell of America's Promise as being a leader in our nation's effort to rescue America's young people. He currently serves on boards and committees for St. John's University and Catholic Charities of St. Paul & Minneapolis.