Youth Leadership Initiative 

Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) is a multicultural community leadership program designed to help youth develop strong, effective leadership skills to work in diverse community settings.
The program assists youth in learning about themselves, working with others, and engaging in meaningful action. The six building blocks of YLI are learning, community, action, culture, character, and leadership.
Questions or more information about YLI, contact:
Nell Goepel (651) 280-2464

YLI is now accepting applications for 2018-2019!

Who can join

Youth in grades 9-12 living in St. Paul or the east metro area willing to make a year commitment. Youth must be reflective of the diversity of the community and agree to attend and participate in the retreats, cultural exploration sessions and action teams. The application below must be completed and submitted with a letter of recommendation.

Cost to participate

The program is free to the participants.

How to apply

1. Download the YLI application

2. Print and complete the application, and have it signed by a parent or legal guardian. 
3. Applications are due by 5pm on Friday, August 31, 2018.
Applications can be sent via email, fax or mail to:
Coulette Columbus-Powers
451 Lexington Parkway North
St. Paul, MN 55104
Fax: 651-280-3366

Learn more about YLI 


YLI's four program goals:

  • Develop youths' understanding of themselves and their culture
  • Equip youth with the knowledge, skills and qualities needed for leadership
  • Encourage youths' appreciation for the culture of others and promote cross-cultural leadership
  • Build youth leadership through meaningful engagement in real community issues

YLI's program activities:

Program Components

  • Learning Retreats
  • Cultural Exploration Sessions
  • Action Teams
  • School Support
Sixty youth between the ages of 14–18 will participate in a year long commitment, which consist of four quarterly retreats, cultural exploration sessions and action teams. Each retreat lasts three days, two nights. Retreats include cultural and historical experiences, team-building activities, workshops on various leadership and social skills. Cultural exploration session youth will explore their culture and heritage and its impact on their leadership style and personal development. Action teams learn about topics such as understanding community, facilitation meetings and planning projects. Each team develops service projects in the community around their passions.

Program Components

  • Learning Retreats: Youth attend three multicultural learning retreats where they explore concepts of leadership, strengthen cross-cultural relationships and participate in experiential learning activities that focus on working effectively with others. The retreats take place in October, February and May.
  • Cultural Exploration Sessions: Youth meet in culturally specific cohorts. Aided by a Cultural Coach, youth explore their culture and heritage and its impact on their leadership style and personal development. Cultural Sessions meets every other Tuesday from 4:00-6:30 p.m. from November through May.
  • Action Teams: Youth participate in weekly multicultural teams that focus on providing service to the community. Action Teams meet weekly from 4:00–6:30 p.m., beginning the first week in November through May.
  • School Support: Youth will discuss the importance of education, set school improvement goals, learn about higher education and are provided with structured support based on individual needs. School Support meets every other Tuesday from 4:00–6:30 p.m. from November through May.

YLI Institute

The YLI Institute partners with organizations through capacity-building efforts and providing learning opportunities in order to ensure all young people feel valued, have opportunities to lead, and contribute to their communities. Find out more here.



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 Already a Leader

Kia Lor_26492100974-150.jpg
YLI Alumna Kia Lor is featured in Wilder's 2016 Annual Report. Read more.