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Youth Leadership Initiative

YLI Logo

Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) introduces, develops and fosters leadership skills among high school sophomores and juniors in Greater Des Moines (DSM) through experiential mentoring and leadership opportunities that enhance self-esteem and encourage involvement in all levels of community life. YLI is an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. 

2018 YLI Student Application 

Submissions for the 2018-2019 class of the Youth Leadership Initiative are now closed and are being reviewed. Thank you to all who have applied to participate or nominated a student. 

With any questions, please contact Molli Davis


Inspiring participants to impact their community through networking, community engagement and continuous leadership development, both personally and professionally. To connect young adults to organizations in the region where they can seek out volunteer opportunities and engage with local leadership.


The YLI program values:

YLI Empowering YouthEMPOWERING youth to connect, participate in change and create their ideal community.

YLI Encouraging YouthENCOURAGING youth to become active participants in their community.

YLI Engaging YouthENGAGING youth in opportunities to invest their futures in Des Moines.


Candidates for the program should:

  • Be entering their sophomore or junior year of high school (2017 - 2018).
  • Have an interest in developing their leadership skills. 
  • Have a desire to learn more about the Des Moines community.

More Information


YLI started as a project of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. Since its inception, 462 students have successfully graduated from this program. Beginning in the fall of 2011, YLI became an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership as part of its focus on talent development.

View the 2017 YLI graduation video below:


Please contact Mary Bontrager to inquire about current volunteer opportunities with this program. All volunteers must fill out an application, provide copy of current résumé and pass a full background check. 

Social Media

YLI on Twitter
YLI on Facebook