Youth Engagement Leadership Program (YELP)

With the rise of metropolitan and suburban areas, many smaller communities across the United States have suffered from a lack of downtown activity. Main Street once contained a thriving mix of retail, entertainment, and restaurants. In many small communities, the current reality of Main Street is empty storefronts and smaller retailers struggling to retain customers. The very same experience also occurred in downtown urban areas with the shift away from downtown living and residence in suburban developments. A disconnect exists between our cultural understanding of rural and urban experience, and this common issue is one way to bridge youth understanding of the commonality of place.

YELP seeks to equip youth with the civic engagement and entrepreneurial skills needed for them to engage as change agents in their community. The youth learn about state and local government and how to write a business plan. Through their participation in the program, the youth demonstrate to their community the importance of youth engagement in the community’s development efforts. Importantly, the program also seeks to connect rural and urban youth with one another to create a shared learning environment.

Questions? Contact Mercedes Maness at (859) 218-4389.

Program Content Examples:

YELP Intro PowerPoint presentation

YELP Summary and module descriptions

Example of YELP content for academic year

Quotes from YELP participants and leaders on experience

Example of logo developed from entrepreneurship/business plan module