Youth Leadership Spokane brings together several dozen sophomores, juniors and seniors from all Spokane County schools (to include home schools) for an intensive, 10-month program. Each class session is held at a different location, which allows students the opportunity to tour important locations in the Spokane community. In the past, class locations have included: Vitalant, KHQ, YMCA, the Police Academy, Gonzaga University, Salvation Army, SPARK Central, Fire Training Center, and GSI.
Youth Leadership Spokane (YLS) develops the next generation of servant leaders by creating strong and healthy youth, and empowering them for service to each other and to their community.
- You will understand and refine your unique role as a servant leader in this community with hands-on experiences.
- You will learn about how the county and its cities govern themselves.
- You will gain understanding of the effects of poverty, substance abuse and crime.
- You will build skills in communication, running a meeting, team building and interviewing.
- You will have opportunities to mentor and be mentored and work cross-generational.
- You will be able to put your new skills into practice with service projects.
- You will get to know area leaders and will become an important part of a key leadership network that is leading this community into the future.
Developing Leadership Through Service Projects
Youth Leadership Spokane students will participate in small team projects throughout the year, some in cooperation with the Flagship Leadership Spokane class. Many of the projects and events will occur outside of the class sessions. Participation will enhance personal confidence and develop your understanding of the greater Spokane community.
"This program taught me how to be a better leader, but it also gave me so much more than that. We had speakers that gave us ways to help when we can in local organizations, speakers that gave us very useful insight for preparing for college and admission processes, presentations that showed us parts of Spokane we’d never been able to see, and more, all while making us better people and leaders. We have made friendships through this program, all while experiencing and learning about servant leadership." -Elsa Bertelsen, Youth Class of 2023
There is a full-day team building retreat in August, followed by one evening meeting a month, September through May.
FAQ Youth Program
- What is Youth Leadership Spokane (YLS)? YLS is a 10-month civic leadership training program, based on the principles of servant leadership and cultural competence. Youth have the desire to serve their community and get to know teens from other schools. YLS gives them the skills and connections with area leaders so that they can be successful as young servant leaders.
- When was it founded? YLS was founded in 1996, as a program of Leadership Spokane. In 2009, Leadership Spokane and the YMCA joined forces to produce the program in partnership. This new partnership broadens outreach and improves service to area youth.
- What geographic area does Leadership Spokane serve? Students come from throughout the greater Spokane County area, from public, private high schools and home schools.
- What does YLS expect of me? Students must demonstrate a commitment to personal growth and to getting involved in their community. Students must have high standards of personal integrity and be able to dedicate the required time to the program.
- Who should apply for Leadership Spokane? Students who will be high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors are eligible to apply. Applicants should want to get involved, learn about their community, enhance their leadership skills, increase their self-knowledge, gain a deeper understanding of diversity, meet new friends, and/or prepare themselves for the future.
- What is the tuition? Tuition of $150 includes all expenses for the retreat, materials and refreshments for class sessions, and graduation.
- Are scholarships available? Yes, scholarships supported by generous sponsors are available. We welcome applications from those with financial need and are honored to assist in this way.
- If I’m not accepted this year, may I re-apply? Definitely.
- Do I have to be formally nominated to the program? No. You are very welcome to apply on your own.
- How many people are accepted into the program each year? 30-40 candidates are chosen each year.
- How is the class chosen? Applications and references are reviewed and scored by staff. Final selection is based upon scores and what each student can gain from the experience as well as contribute to the cohort. The program’s goal is to put together a class with a variety of backgrounds and schools. That contributes greatly to a rich and challenging YLS experience.
- How will I benefit? You will understand and refine your unique role as a young servant leader in your community with hands-on experiences that tap into your artistic and creative side. In addition to servant leadership, you’ll study diversity and learn how to lead effectively with people whose background, perspective, lifestyle, and culture may be different from your own. You’ll learn about how the county and its cities govern themselves. You’ll gain understanding of the effects of poverty, substance abuse, and crime. You’ll build skills in communication and team building. You’ll have opportunities to mentor, be mentored, and work cross-generationally. You’ll be able to put your new skills into practice with one service project, at a minimum. You’ll get to know area leaders and will become an important part of a key leadership network that is leading this community into the future.
- What is the time commitment? There is a full-day team building retreat in August, followed by one evening meeting a month, September through May and a Commencement held in June. There is also a small group service project, with multiple opportunities to participate during the year.
- What presenters are featured in the class sessions? Past presenters have included the Mayor, Spokane County Sheriff, Gonzaga University, Hoopfest Executive Director, Spokane Fire Department Chief, Let it Shine Media, Washington State Legislature, KXLY, and Habitat for Humanity.
- What if schools are closed due to weather? YLS follows the area school districts. In the event that Spokane Public Schools are closed, YLS sessions will be cancelled and rescheduled.
Leadership Spokane is proud to partner with the Horizon Credit Union and YMCA of the Inland Northwest. Our partnership broadens outreach and improves service to area youth.