In 1995, the U.S. Forest Service Pacific northwest Region African American Emphasis Program Managers met to discuss the shortage and retention rate of African Americans in natural resource science and management fields. The region had lost 44 percent of its African American students recruited through the 1890 Initiative in Biological Science despite strong recruitment and hiring efforts since 1992. The Inner City Youth Institute (ICYI) was proposed as a solution.
- Since its inception, about 2,300 middle and high school students have participated in ICYI.
- ICYI students have gone on to attend Mount Hood Community College, Portland Community College, Portland State University, Oregon State University, University of Arizona, University of Oregon, Western Washington University, and Yale School of Forestry, earning degrees in forestry, biology, hydrology, natural resources, civil engineering, business, psychology, pre-medicine, and graphic design.
- Several ICYI students have been hired by federal partners through the Student Temporary Employment Program and Volunteer Program. In 2010 and 2011, ICYI students were hired as mentors through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded program called Forests Inside Out!
- In 2007, the first ICYI college graduate was converted from her Student Career Experience Program appointment to a permanent employee position with the US Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, as a forest planner. She graduated from Western Washington University in 2007 and has been involved with ICYI since 2000.
- ICYI was presented an award by the Bureau of Land Management (Department of the Interior) for the Secretary's Diversity Partnership Award in Washington, D.C., 2005.
- ICYI was awarded More Kids in the Woods funding in 2008.