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Youth Leadership Initiative

What is YLI?

The Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) releases untapped potential in the next generation of community leaders. This untapped potential is released as students learn skills that propel them into their next steps of life and as they embrace their roles as shapers of a community where their dreams can be realized.

High school students get out of the classroom and into real-life learning experiences throughout Greater Des Moines. Their teachers are local business and community experts. Their subjects are opportunities and challenges in our region. Their lessons teach self, group, professional, and community leadership skills to prepare for their futures. Their program graduation showcases students who are ready to shape a community and take action.

Who should apply?

Students with plenty of room to grow! Participants who gain the most from YLI are:

  • Ready to learn about their community and how they can shape its future.
  • Enthusiastic about building professional skills and gaining exposure to possible career paths.
  • Open to exploring their leadership potential, perhaps having had few previous opportunities.
  • Sincere about forming connections with fellow students and mentors from across Greater Des Moines.
  • Eager to gain confidence, step outside their comfort zones, and learn about themselves.

Application & Program Details

  • Applications for the Class of 2025 are now closed.
  • Anyone can recommend a student for the Class of 2026 at any time throughout the year and we will reach out to them and invite them to apply.
  • Students who successfully complete the program will earn 4 DMACC college credits!
  • Sessions take place one full Friday per month and one Monday evening per month.
  • The program is tuition-free, thanks to generous support from people and organizations who believe in the leadership potential of youth.
  • Class selection will be completed in May. Approximately 35-40 students from public and private high schools from across the Greater Des Moines area will be selected.
  • Contact Kelly Royal at with questions about the program.

Program Marketing Resources

Class List & Schedule

Alumni Resources


Thank you to the sponsors of the Youth Leadership Initiative!

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Farm Bureau Financial Services
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