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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. 


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.


Student Resources

Class of 2019

Congratulations to the YLI class of 2019!

  • Carmen Almendarez
  • Charlie Andrews
  • Michael Areges
  • Brandon Barr
  • Gavin Beedon
  • Bree Beyer
  • Nya Bottley
  • Charlotte Butoyi
  • Daylan Carney
  • Piper Carroll
  • Quinn Covill
  • Rachel Currant
  • Chloe David
  • Abbie Davitt
  • Cael Fitch
  • Jacob Foster
  • Michael Fraizer
  • Kelsey Heller
  • Samantha Hilbert

  • Justin Johnson
  • Kenzie Kroll
  • Ann Lent
  • Jackie Liang
  • Alexa Meyer
  • Haley Mudge
  • Riziki Mwirotsi
  • Angel Nyaga
  • Ryan O'Halloran
  • Khadesha Pargo-Jones
  • Callan Randall
  • Grace Smerage
  • Karley Smith
  • Emma Stahl
  • Karsten Theilen
  • Patrick Tunks
  • Ethan Vetterick
  • Ellie Wilson
  • Sam Wilson

Candidates for the program should:

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


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