The goals of the Young Neighborhood Leaders program are to:
- Build awareness of the community development field among young people, especially low-income black students in St. Louis schools
- Develop the next generation of civic and community leaders; one that is civically engaged and representative of the diversity of St. Louis’ neighborhoods
- Empower young people with the skills and resources necessary to develop and carry out grassroots initiatives in their community
- Build professional and life skills, including financial management, professional demeanor, respect and cooperation between different cultures and perspectives.
- Provide gainful employment to youth in order to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, dropping out of high school, and criminal behavior
- Create opportunities for peer and one-on-one mentorship among young people and leaders in the community development field with an inclusive focus of involving African-American professionals and other professionals of color as mentors.
- As demonstrated by the Gravois-Jefferson Plan:
- Summer jobs was the #1 activity that young people support to support and empower local youth.
- 87% of young people said they want to be a part of improving their neighborhoods. Only 17% are involved with local organizations or neighborhood groups.
- As demonstrated by research and broader context:
- 81% of American city planners are white. 84% of nonprofit community development organizations are white. There is a need for a more diverse, representative generation of civic and community leaders.
- Youth employment programs have been shown to increase community engagement, build financial well-being, and support positive outcomes for young people.