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Youth Leadership Jacksonville
A program of Leadership Jacksonville, Inc.


What is it?

Created in 1989, this year-long program brings together a select and diverse cross section of Northeast Florida high school students with demonstrated leadership ability and prepares them to become ethical leaders committed to active community involvement. Youth Leadership Jacksonville draws together approximately fifty-four students each year.

During this exciting program, students attend an Opening Retreat, six Program Days (one per month) and a Closing Retreat. Programs are practical in nature with hands-on activities. Program Days deal with specific facets of the community such as government, criminal justice, human services, diversity and business. Each day combines a behind-the-scenes experience with a great deal of interaction with the appropriate community leaders.

Youth Leadership Jacksonville alumni group photosProgram dates:  August – March

Program Fee:  $250 (Scholarships available)

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • Attend a participating SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accredited high school in Duval, Clay, or St. Johns County.
  • High school freshmen from participating high schools will be eligible to apply for participation during their sophomore year.
  • Be approved by the high school principal.
  • Demonstrate proven leadership ability in school and/or community activities.
  • Have an interest in addressing the issues confronting the First Coast communities.
  • Commit to full participation in the program.
  • Be academically sound. An average of “B” or better is recommended. The program will require students to miss seven days of class (one per month).

How will the class be selected?

Students nominated by participating high schools go through a thorough selection process involving a written application and interview.

Nominations for YLJ can only be submitted by authorized personnel at participating high schools and not through this website.

Applications will be provided to the participating schools in early November 2021. Contact Meg Folds at to find the contact person at a particular school. Students fill out the written application that is returned to their school before the school’s deadline. The school submits its candidates to Leadership Jacksonville in January. Interviews take place February through March, with the class selection complete by May 1 each year.

The forty participating SACS accredited high schools in Baker, Clay, Duval and St. John’s counties are eligible to submit applications. Applications are accepted only from these schools. Each participating high school will have the opportunity to nominate four to six freshmen. Teams of Leadership Jacksonville alumni interview all candidates and select the class in the spring. Selected students will participate in Youth Leadership Jacksonville with other selected students during their sophomore year.

What are the Program Goals?

  • To meet students from all areas of the First Coast Community and to develop mutual trust and respect for each other.
  • To have an increased awareness of our community needs, opportunities, problems and resources.
  • To gain a greater understanding of contemporary issues through interaction and problem solving with peers, adult leaders and decision makers from all segments of the community.
  • To develop effective styles of leadership, communication and decision making skills.
  • To become a responsible, ethical leader committed to active community involvement.

YLJ 2022 Calendar (2021-2022):

  • May 3, 2021:  Virtual Orientation (Mandatory Attendance)
  • August 20-21, 2021: Virtual Opening Retreat (Mandatory Attendance)
  • September 9, 2021:  “Inside The System”
  • October 14, 2021:  “Leading For A Lifetime”
  • November 4, 2021:  “In Living Color”
  • December 2, 2021:  “Everyday Creativity”
  • January 20, 2022:  “Are We Our Brothers’/Sisters’ Keeper?”
  • February 17, 2022:  “Dollars & Sense”
  • March 26, 2022:  Closing Retreat/Graduation

YLJ 2023 Calendar (2022-2023):

  • June TBD 2022:  Orientation (Mandatory Attendance)
  • August TBD 2022: Parent Orientation
  • August 26-27, 2022:  Opening Retreat (Mandatory Attendance)
  • September 15, 2022:  “In Living Color”
  • October 13, 2022:  “Leading For A Lifetime”
  • November 3, 2022:  “Inside The System”
  • December 1, 2022:  “Everyday Creativity”
  • January 26, 2023:  “Are We Our Brothers’/Sisters’ Keeper?”
  • February 23, 2023:  “Dollars & Sense”
  • March 25, 2023:  Closing Retreat/Graduation

The lessons I learned about life, our community and society in general are things that cannot be learned inside the classroom, but only through the many hands-on experiences YLJ provides.