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Youth Leadership Academy Youth Leadership Academy

Program Program

YLA Program

The YLA program is delivered through a diverse team of trainers, mentors and other volunteers who meet with cadets an average of two Saturday mornings per month during the academic year. There are close to 20 sessions total in an academic year. Sessions are usually held on Saturdays beginning at 9:00 am and conclude at 12:00 noon. The goal of the YLA curriculum is to provide cadets with the support and experiences that allow them to reach their full potential as individuals who are still very young and responsible for making important choices about their adult life. There are three training concepts that the YLA uses in combination to deliver a unique program to our cadets to help them accomplish this: A) Self-Determination, B) College Readiness, and C) Service Learning.

 A. Self-Determination

SELF-DETERMINATION is defined as an individual being the primary activating factor in his/her own life. It is characterized by the contentedness of knowing that you have been the person most responsible for the decisions and directions in your life, and, while not always 100% achieving your goals, having made the best possible decisions given the circumstances. Self-determined individuals report greater happiness in their lives, and are empowered to make decisions that reflect their own personalities and goals, and are reflective of the reality of one’s own abilities, interests, and values.

There are six (6) principles of Self-Determination: 1) Self Awareness, 2) Support Networks, 3) Autonomy, 4) Aspirations, 5) Work and Work-like Experiences, and 6) Social Skills / Inclusion. YLA Trainers have organized the academic year into teaching units. Each teaching unit addresses at least one of the six principles of Self-Determination. The goal of this curriculum is that over the course of six years (7th – 12th grades), each YLA cadet will have a strong foundation of understanding each of these six principles. 


 B. College Readiness

Getting to college is one thing, but staying in college to complete a degree is another. Your chances of staying in college to complete a degree will increase as your level of readiness increases. To be ready for college, you must work hard in your academic classes which require good scheduling, organization and study skills. Yet, there is more! A student who is ready for college must have contextual knowledge about, and understanding of, the entire process of college admissions, financial aid, how to navigate class registration and what to expect from college-level classes. Most of all, a college ready student is solid in their priorities: school comes first. While the reality remains that high school and college students need part-time jobs for various reasons, it is critical that the number one focus be on academic progress. 

The importance of a college degree is not to be underestimated, and it is never too early to prepare one’s self to obtain it. In addition to earning nearly twice the yearly income of a person who does not obtain a college degree, many surveys indicate that a college graduate has a higher sense of personal fulfillment and confidence in all of life. The fastest growing jobs require post-secondary education or training. The Youth Leadership Academy’s focus and promise is to deliver quality programming to help each cadet be ready for college.


C. Service Learning

“An education that teaches you to understand something about the world has done only half of the assignment. The other half is to teach you to do something about making the world a better place.” – Johnetta Cole

Service learning projects are opportunities for cadets to use the leadership skills that they acquire at YLA and put them into action for the purpose of improving their own communities. Working together in teams with other young people from various grade levels, they also establish team relationships from which they can learn how to get things done in groups. Each team of cadets is supported by a trained YLA adult mentor who helps them stay on track and accomplish their team goals. 

Each service learning team follows the The Five Stages of Service-Learning as outlined in the book, “It’s Their Serve” by Shelley H. Billig. These five stages are: 1) Investigation, 2) Planning and Preparation, 3) Action, 4) Reflection and 5) Demonstration. Through this process, cadets gain particular affinity for community issues and important values are nurtured. In essence, service learning is YLA’s way of developing the next generation of community leaders.


Additional Material for Download
(Adobe Reader 4.0 or Higher to Read PDF's)

2016-2017 YLA Cadet Manual - click on link below


for the 2015-2016 YLA Cadet Manual in SPANISH - click here: