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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’s 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.

Program dates:  August – March

Program Fee:  $250 (Scholarships available)

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • Attend a SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accredited high school in Duval, Clay, or St. Johns County.
  • Youth Leadership Jacksonville is transitioning from a program for high school juniors to a program for high school sophomores. For 2017-18 (to participate in 2018-19), both high school freshmen and sophomores from participating high schools will be eligible to apply.
  • 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 2017. 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. For 2017-18 only each participating high school will have the opportunity to nominate three or four freshmen and three or four sophomores. Teams of Leadership Jacksonville alumni interview all candidates and select the class in the spring. Selected students will participate in Youth Leadership Jacksonville during the 2018-19 school year with other selected sophomores and juniors.

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 XXVIII Calendar (2017-2018):

  • April 25, 2017:  Orientation
  • August 25-26, 2017:  Opening Retreat (Mandatory Attendance)
  • September 14, 2017:  “In Living Color”
  • October 12, 2017:  “Leading For A Lifetime”
  • November 9, 2017:  “Inside The System”
  • December 7, 2017:  “Everyday Creativity”
  • January 25, 2018:  “Dollars & Sense”
  • February 15, 2018:  “Are We Our Brothers’/Sisters’ Keeper?”
  • March 10, 2018:  Closing Retreat/Graduation

YLJ XXIX Calendar (2018-2019):

  • May 7, 2018:  Orientation
  • August 24-25, 2018:  Opening Retreat (Mandatory Attendance)
  • September 13, 2018:  “In Living Color”
  • October 11, 2018:  “Leading For A Lifetime”
  • November 8, 2018:  “Inside The System”
  • December 6, 2018:  “Everyday Creativity”
  • January 24, 2019:  “Dollars & Sense”
  • February 14, 2019:  “Are We Our Brothers’/Sisters’ Keeper?”
  • March 9, 2019:  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.

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