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YOUTH LEADERSHIP ST. LOUIS (YLSL), a program of FOCUS St. Louis, empowers the region's youth to become future community leaders. Founded in 1989, YLSL is a program for high school juniors that develops leadership skills, promotes teamwork among diverse groups, and provides a deeper understanding of the St. Louis region.
YLSL is based on seven leadership objectives - to inform, to involve, to inspire, to challenge, the empower, to promote action, and to value diversity. The program was designed to provide students with hands-on experiences in the St. Louis region's political, arts, social service, and criminal justice fields. Students have the opportunity to learn and practice leadership skills, such as collaborating, facilitation, problem-solving, and public speaking. Each high school team is accompanied by a teacher/YLSL advisor who is trained by FOCUS as a leadership coach. The premier youth leadership training curriculum in the region, YLSL is the area’s only established inter-district high school program that is non-competitive in nature. For the YLSL Class of 2012-2013, there are 160 students from the following schools:
Berkeley High School
Carnahan High School
Chaminade College Preparatory School
Clayton High School
Cleveland High School (Purina PALS)
Crossroads College Preparatory School
Eureka High School
Gateway High School (Purina PALS)
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri
John F. Kennedy Catholic High School
Ladue Horton Watkins High School
Lafayette High School
Marquette High School
McCluer High School
McCluer North High School
Maplewood Richmond Heights High School
Metro High School (Purina PALS)
Parkway Central High School
Parkway North High School
Parkway South High School
Parkway West High School
Pattonville High School
Roosevelt High School
SIUE East St. Louis Charter School
Soldan International Studies High School
St. Mary's High School
University City High School
Vashon High School
St. John Vianney High School
Wright City High School
YLSL brings students together from approximately 30 urban, suburban, rural, public, private, and parochial schools from throughout the region, as well as the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri and the Purina PALS program. The students learn how to take leadership roles, appreciate each other's differences, cooperate, and lead with other students from different backgrounds and experiences.
Completion of the YLSL program is an impressive entry on any resume and often an avenue to scholarships. YLSL graduates have an opportunity to do the following:
YLSL participants meet one or two times per month during the school year. The program begins with an overnight retreat in September and ends with a graduation ceremony in April. Workshops include a combination of team-building exercises, conflict resolution models, experiential learning, and dialogues with community leaders. Students have the opportunity to visit sites such as:
In 2011-12, YLSL has been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for its excellence and service to youth.
YLSL selection begins at the end of sophomore year and is administered by participating high schools. Fees are $500 per student and paid for by participating schools and contributions from the community. YLSL advisor at each participating school distributes student applications. Community leaders conduct interviews to select class members.
FOCUS St. Louis thanks the following companies and foundations for their generous support of the Youth Leadership St. Louis program:
For details contact YLSL Director Mary Dee Schmidt at 314-622-1250 x114.