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This is How Youth Leadership Initiative Helped Me in High School


April 5, 2018

Getting involved in the Greater Des Moines Partnership's Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) was one of the best decisions I made in high school. It can be somewhat of a rarity to get leadership experience when you’re young. I have found jumping at opportunities like YLI early on is the best way to define both yourself and the community around you.

What is YLI?

YLI focuses on untapped potential and provides opportunities for high school sophomores and juniors in Greater Des Moines (DSM) to gain leadership and mentorship experience. It introduces, develops and fosters leadership. Throughout my time in the initiative, three values were continually emphasized: encourage, empower, engage. YLI encourages youth leaders to actively get involved in the community. It empowers to connect and participate in change to create the community you want to see, and it engages with opportunities to invest in your future and the future of DSM. YLI is all about making you the best you can be, and in turn, making DSM into the community you want to lead.

Real-world lessons

Throughout YLI there are many different planned events that emphasize different areas of personal and professional growth. From community engagement and career planning to health and wellness, the YLI programming offers a vast array of real-world lessons. Do you know the proper way to fold a napkin? You will learn at the etiquette dinner. Want to learn how to project confidence with good posture when presenting? YLI is the brace. It’s the little things that matter and YLI provides you with a toolbox of both little and big things.

To cap off everything learned throughout YLI, you will have the opportunity to give back to the community through a service project. I really enjoyed my project as it showcased how meaningful and rewarding it can be, to both you and the community around you.

How to apply

This year’s deadline for submission is Noon on Sunday, April 8. High school freshman and sophomores should apply prior to the start of their sophomore and junior years, respectively. You can find the application online or talk to an administrator at your high school and they will be able to get you a hard copy. Once the YLI committee has reviewed each applicant, the 2019 class will be announced, no later than June 1.

There are so many reasons to apply. The YLI Program is tuition-free but can provide a wealth of experience that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. As the saying goes, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) introduces, develops and fosters leadership skills among high school sophomores and juniors in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Applications are being accepted for the class of 2018-2019.

Zach Walker

Zach recently graduated from Grand View University having studied Business Administration, Management and Marketing. Having a strong passion for leadership and personal development, Zach enjoys working with students through the Youth Leadership Initiative. Zach has been active with YLI since 2013 and has served in a variety of roles on the executive council.