The Young Neighborhood Leaders Program will:
- Build awareness of the community development field among young people, especially low-income black students in St. Louis schools
- Develop the next generation of civic and community leaders; one that is civically engaged and representative of the diversity of St. Louis’ neighborhoods
- Empower young people with the skills and resources necessary to develop and carry out grassroots initiatives in their community
- Build professional and life skills, including financial management, professional demeanor, respect and cooperation between different cultures and perspectives.
- Provide gainful employment to youth in order to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, dropping out of high school, and criminal behavior
- Create opportunities for peer and one-on-one mentorship among young people and leaders in the community development field with an inclusive focus of involving African-American professionals and other professionals of color as mentors.
- Gravois-Jefferson Youth Engagement
- Summer jobs was #1 activity that young people would support to improve education and empower local youth.
- 87% said they wanted to be a part of improving their neighborhoods. Only 17% are involved with local organization or neighborhood group.
- Research and Broader Context
- 81% of American city planners are white. 84% of nonprofit community development organizations are white.
- Youth who are engaged in their communities are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, less likely to drop out of high school, and less likely to be involved in criminal behavior.
- Youth jobs organizations: St. Louis Youth Jobs (job coaches and training, payroll, back-office support) and St. Louis Internship Program (professional development training).
- Local partners/potential job placements: Thomas Dunn Learning Center, Dutchtown South Community Corporation, DeSales Community Development, Citizen Carpentry, Salvation Army, Carnahan High School, UrbanEats, Cherokee Street Reach, and more.
Recruitment will prioritize students’ interests and skills along with the needs of the community development organizations. Recruitment will have a strong focus on racial equity. Once in the program, students will participate in a ten-part leadership development program that builds life and professional skills, including financial management, professional demeanor, and being on time.
After the leadership development program, Young Neighborhood Leaders will be placed in eight-week paid summer internships at local community development organizations and businesses. The internships will be complemented by weekly half-day professional development sessions, which will include guest speakers from across sectors and cohort-based projects. Throughout their involvement in the program, students will have opportunities for group and one-on-one mentorship, cementing the information they learn in the field.