The Young Neighborhood Leaders (YNL) program that will engage, educate and employ high school students in the community development and urban planning fields. In collaboration with Thomas Dunn Learning Center and STL Youth Jobs, the program will (1) Employ young people in neighborhood-based organizations and businesses; (2) Support opportunities for mentorship and education; (3) Facilitate youth-led community development; and (4) Foster a more diverse, representative generation of civic leaders and neighborhood champions. For the summer 2018 pilot, the YNL program will be targeted toward high school students living or attending school in Benton Park West, Gravois Park, or the northeast section of Dutchtown (the Gravois-Jefferson planning area).

Applications for 2018 are closed! Thank you to all who applied, we’re all looking forward to a great summer! Check back soon for an announcement about applications for summer 2019.

The goals of the Young Neighborhood Leaders program are to:

  1. Build awareness of the community development field among young people, especially low-income black students in St. Louis schools
  2. Develop the next generation of civic and community leaders; one that is civically engaged and representative of the diversity of St. Louis’ neighborhoods
  3. Empower young people with the skills and resources necessary to develop and carry out grassroots initiatives in their community
  4. Build professional and life skills, including financial management, professional demeanor, respect and cooperation between different cultures and perspectives.
  5. Provide gainful employment to youth in order to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, dropping out of high school, and criminal behavior
  6. 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.

The Need:

  • As demonstrated by the Gravois-Jefferson Plan:
    • Summer jobs was the #1 activity that young people support to support and empower local youth.
    • 87% of young people said they want to be a part of improving their neighborhoods. Only 17% are involved with local organizations or neighborhood groups.
  • As demonstrated by research and broader context:
    • 81% of American city planners are white. 84% of nonprofit community development organizations are white. There is a need for a more diverse, representative generation of civic and community leaders.
    • Youth employment programs have been shown to increase community engagement, build financial well-being, and support positive outcomes for young people.

Program Elements:

For the summer 2018 pilot, five Young Neighborhood Leaders will be selected to participate in the program. These students will be enrolled as STL Youth Jobs employees, through which they will receive training in professional etiquette, resume development, interviewing and more. They will also open a bank account and receive financial coaching in advance of receiving their first pay check.

Internships will begin the week of Monday, June 11 and run over an eight week period. Young Neighborhood Leaders will work approximately 20 hours/week at community development organizations based in the target neighborhoods. Each week, the YNLs will convene with the Southside Youth Council at Thomas Dunn Learning Center for a session focused on community and neighborhood leadership. These sessions will feature guest speakers, group activities, and a robust curriculum design to raise awareness of and interest in the community development sector.

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.

Program Partners

Program Sponsors