West Virginia Department of Commerce Flex-E-Grant Project: Youth Leadership

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Flex-E-Grant Project: Youth Leadership

Flex-E-Grant Youth Leadership

The Ohio-West Virginia YMCA and its HI-Y Leadership Center work to let teenagers exercise civic leadership first hand. Flex-E-Grant has helped sponsor teens from distressed counties for programs such as:

  • Hi-Y Leadership Summit
  • Youth in Government
  • Teen Entrepreneurial Civic Leadership

Communities face problems of too few people volunteering, too many talented individuals leaving, and youth not stepping up to fill vacated civic roles. HI-Y seeks to strengthen communities by giving teenagers the experiences they need to build a sense of personal and civic responsibility, commitment to serve and willingness to act.

The Flex-E-Grant program enabled 28 teens from ARC distressed and at-risk counties to attend the residential HI-Y Leadership Summit. During their week at YMCA Camp Horseshoe, the teens created their own community. The teens practiced leadership, communication, team building, problem solving, and program planning skills in creative service projects.

The HI-Y Youth in Government program enlisted 49 teens and 12 adult mentors from distressed and at-risk counties for roles as legislators, press, pages, lobbyists and justices in Youth in Government and in Model United Nations.

The Entrepreneurial program helped teens build a foundation of entrepreneurial thinking, skills and actions. Flex-E-Grant scholarships allowed 28 teens from distressed counties to attend a week-long immersion exercise with teens from nondistressed counties at YMCA Camp Horseshoe. Participants were encouraged to learn to network with peers from other backgrounds, exchange ideas and recognize new opportunities.