Based on empirical and theoretical literature, the National Center for Youth Development was born of a biopsychosocial model that delineates several processes and conditions understood to be important for establishing mentoring relationships with youth. Outcomes of our model equate to high-quality mentoring relationships that exert their effects on academic, behavioral, and social-emotional developmental processes through three interrelated domains of adolescent development: biological/physical development, psychological/cognitive development, and social/identity development. Through our nearly two decades of working with kids, these domains have been found to mutually influence each other, such that improvements in one domain typically facilitate improvements in the two others. For example, increased self-esteem and particularly self-perception of academic abilities can also contribute to cognitive and identity development. In addition, the social-emotional benefits of mentoring are assumed to lead to improvements in parental and peer relationships, which in turn influence positive outcomes in a range of other areas. These positive impacts, however, all depend on a foundation of mutuality, trust, and empathy within the mentoring relationship. This is why we founded the National Center for Youth Development. We have established a community of stakeholders equip to implement an evidence-based best practice approach to nurturing adolescents through the developmental years. 


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We at the National Center for Youth Development know that finding the right youth development program to support you is a choice not to be taken lightly. That’s why we offer free consultations to walk you through your needs, the scope of your goals, and your budget.

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Youth Development Specialists


Executive Director

Bruce Martens

After six years of working to develop, implement, and maintain the Minnesota High School Cycling League as a founding member and three years working as the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) Coach Licensing and Registration Manager, Bruce Martens has accepted the position of Executive Director for the National Center for Youth Development.

Bruce attended Minnesota State University, Mankato as an undergraduate double majoring in microbiology and chemistry and the University of Minnesota's master's program for Integrated Behavioral Health, specializing in adolescent development. Athletics and sport development have been critical components of Bruce's academic advancement and his coaching philosophy is a fundamental integration of his personal experience with the evidence-based best practice of athlete-centered long term biopsychosocial development. He uses both his personal and professional knowledge and training to create a safe and collaborative space for student-athletes while working from an integrative, holistic (mind, body, spirit), and strengths-based approach. While drawing from traditional coaching methodology, Bruce resources a variety of non-conventional modalities that include mindfulness/meditation, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative therapy, family systems support, stress management, and injury prevention.

In addition to his love for health, fitness and nutrition, Bruce has been a passionate cyclist since he was a child. He has always used cycling as a means of staying fit and began competing in mountain bike races in 2001 as a way to nurture his competitive spirit. Wanting to enhance his fitness for mountain bike racing, Bruce found himself on his road bike more and more, which naturally led to his first road race and subsequent love for road bike racing. It was only natural that cyclocross racing would soon follow, not to mention his new found love of winter fat bike racing. In addition to competing in countless 5ks, 10ks, half and full marathons as well as one half-ironman, Bruce uses yoga, Nordic skiing, and endurance-inspired crossfit to supplement his personal training regimen. He is known for constantly pushing himself to find new levels of fitness and performance while having a deep passion for learning.

As a youth cycling coach, Bruce enjoys the process of collaboration to design and implement programs that will help each student-athlete reach their goals, both on and off the bike. Bruce has been working with student-athletes since 2004 and has devoted himself to building programs that maximize the competence, confidence, connection, character, life skills, positive affect, and psychosocial capacities cycling promotes.

When Bruce isn't teaching, cooking up new training programs, or out logging time in the saddle, he covets time with his wife Lisa and son Liam. Additionally, he enjoys running, camping, cooking, photography, music, home improvement, time with friends, and gardening. Finally, and as you may have guessed, Bruce has hard time saying no to a ride!



M.S. Integrated Behavioral Health, 2015

B. S. Microbiology/Chemistry, 2001

Activities & Affiliations

  • USCCE, Member
  • Cycling Program Director, Gentry Academy
  • Seward Montessori, Volunteer

Professional Accreditation

  • NICA Level 3 Head Coach
  • IMBA ICP Instructor


Senior Program Director

Guido Palma

Guido was born and raised in Argentina and is a former professional road cyclist. He has spent most of his career racing for some of the best teams in the United States. After Guido stopped racing he worked as an Assistant Director of a Professional Men’s and a Woman's Team and he is now ready to share all his experience with young student-athletes.

Guido had traveled all around the world racing bikes. He started racing when he was 16 years old but has been riding bikes since he was two. He is the 4th generation of cyclists in his family with a few World Medalists and Olympic athletes. He represented the Argentinian National Team in his junior years and after that he came to United States. It took one year for Guido to get his first professional contract at the age of 20. He has raced some of the most renowned races in North America and has helped his teammates to win races (including a stage in Tour of California) and the UCI America Ranking and the USA National Racing Calendar. Guido was part of the team that won the National USA classification in 2009 and got top 3 for 5 years in a row.

After living in different states of the country, Guido found his place in Minnesota, where he not only met his now wife but a place with love for a healthy and active life, which includes mountain biking. Guido spent this NICA season helping the Armstrong High School to achieve a very successful year.

Beside being known as a cyclist, Guido is an excellent chef and a very bad singer, although he always tries hard at it.  



Instituto Argentino de Nutricion

Asociación de Psicología del Deporte Mental Training in Sport

Universidad Siglo XXI


Activities & Affiliations

  • USAC Coach
  • Seward Montessori, Volunteer

Professional Accreditation

  • High-Performance Sports Psychology Certification
  • NICA Level 3 Coach


Development Specialist

Matt Orzechowski

Matt Orzechowski was born and raised in Minnesota. Matt found himself wanting more once he became an adult, so he started running and cycling. He later participated in Triathlons and Duathlons and decided to concentrate on being competitive in Duathlons. He went to Nationals twice and placed 1 st and 3 rd in his age group short course. Cycling was always his stronger of the two sports, so he started riding road bikes with some friends he had met over the years. He enjoyed spending time with the caring, competitive community of cyclist. Matt is always looking for innovative ways of achieving greatness in whatever he sets his mind to. He uses technology and best practices to help push himself past what he thought he could do thus achieving new levels of fitness. Matt has a passion to help others unlock their potential not just on the bike but as a human being.

Matt spent the last 10 years of his professional career at Domino’s Pizza as a General Manager. Even in his career at Domino’s Matt found a way to be competitive. His Domino’s team was always one of the top performing stores in the metro area. He won the mid-west conference pizza making competition 6 years in a row. He now is attending Dunwoody Technical College for a AAS HVAC Installation & Residential Service degree.

Matt is quick to crack a joke and is always looking for the next exciting journey.





Activities & Affiliations

  • NICA Level 2 Coach
  • Seward Montessori, Volunteer

Professional Accreditation

  • Dale Carnegie Leadership Excellence