Community-driven leadership development in education, health, and employment.

Youth Workforce Leaders Academy

The Youth Workforce Leaders Academy is a year-long professional development opportunity for mid-level professionals in youth workforce development designed to expand and grow organizations' expertise in providing high quality services to youth.

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Youth Workforce Leaders Academy

Youth Workforce Leaders Academy


The Youth Workforce Leaders Academy is a year-long professional development opportunity for mid-level professionals who play a decision-making role at organizations providing youth workforce development services. This locally focused professional learning community supports the growth and success of selected staff from organizations serving youth 16-24. For each Academy, IEL works with a local lead agency to tailor the Academy content to local the community's strengths, needs, and interests while providing linkages to national trends, quality practices, and resources related to youth workforce development. This collaborative approach leads to a community-based Academy experience that is unique to each locality yet infused by national perspective and practices.

Participants Will...

  • complete a self-assessment of youth workforce development competencies;
  • attend monthly in-person learning sessions led by local and national experts;
  • participate in online peer-to-peer discussions and applied learning opportunities at their organization between sessions;
  • create and carry out a capstone project and professional development plan that involves identifying specific actions to address organizational challenges and achieve personal learning goals;
  • work with an alumni peer mentor for additional professional development and support;
  • share information with peers, including strategies and resources from their organization;
  • give a capstone presentation about what they learned and how they've applied learning to strengthen or improve their organization's work with youth; and
  • receive a certificate of completion recognizing their hours of participation and knowledge gained.

Academy Topics

IEL uses Information from the participants’ self-assessments and professional development plans to select final topics. Proposed topics include

  • career exploration and workforce preparation strategies,
  • employer engagement,
  • communicating with and engaging youth,
  • assessment and individualized planning,
  • engaging families,
  • access to resources and collaboration,
  • organizational performance management and continuous improvement,
  • research-based program design, and
  • working with specific youth populations, such as youth with disabilities, court-involved youth, and foster youth.

Participant Benefits

  • New resources, strategies, and tools
  • Networking with other professionals from their area and across the country
  • Better understanding of own professional strengths and areas for improvement
  • Knowledge about regional and national policy and practice
  • Improved practices with youth and enhanced program activities

Organizational Benefits

  • Immediate application of new or improved professional practices to address an organizational challenge or priority through the capstone project
  • Staff with increased capacity and resources to share with colleagues
  • National resources and frameworks for quality program design
  • New partnership opportunities with community and national organizations
  • Better understanding of staff strengths and future training needs


  • “I am much more confident about recommending best practices and advocating for intentional workforce development programming that adheres to best practices that we learned about during YWLA.” (YWLA Graduate)
  • “I’ve been able to utilize the information provided to better develop/plan programs and to work towards ensuring that our programs and spaces are accessible to all alumni. I’ve utilized goal planning resources with our current group of interns. I learned how to better manage and support interns that work for us. My organization’s alumni program has benefited because of my experience.” (YWLA Graduate)
  • “My organization is more focused on including student voice in concrete, intentional ways, more adept at providing accessible programming, more aware about avoiding adultism and other pitfalls, better able to build strong collaborations and partnerships with other organizations all because of my time with YWLA. Our youth are much better served because of the resources, experiences, and conversations that YWLA provided.” (YWLA Graduate)
  • “We have deeper relationships with other youth serving organizations and one new ongoing partnership with another YWLA participating organization.” (Supervisor)
  • “It has helped increase her knowledge of the workforce development field, what’s happening locally and how our organization fits into the landscape.” (Supervisor)

District of Columbia's Youth Workforce Leaders Academy

IEL is pleased to partner with the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates to co-lead YWLA for youth service professionals from organizations and agencies serving D.C. youth. The DC YWLA is generously supported through funding from the Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative, an initiative of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.