Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Diversity Leaders
The DLA Youth Leadership Academy is a monthly education and training program for high school juniors and seniors that is facilitated by renowned diversity practitioners and local business and leadership consultants. Students are encouraged to share and apply the skills and knowledge they acquire with their school based organizations, community organizations and their places of worship. The DLA Youth Leadership Academy workshop topics have included Emotional Intelligence, The Path: Teaching Youth to Find their Vision, Mission and Map Their Plan of Success, Diversity 101, Yan-Koloba (Teamwork and Character Building), Intergroup Relationships, Engaging our Communities Beyond the Generational Communication Gap and Teens Can Make it Happen.
One of the most important aspects of the program is teaching the students how to brand and express themselves through experiential exercises that replicate real-life situations. These hands-on exercises provide the youth with one-of-a-kind training that they would not otherwise receive in a typical high school setting. With the combined experience of Chairs Dominic Bartola and Lee Barnett, the students receive access to numerous resources, tools and skills through a diverse set of speakers each month.
In 2008 the DLA Board of Directors recognized there was a significant population they were not reaching; Phoenix’s Youth. This spawned the DLA Youth Leadership Academy which was established to influence our younger community to foster change by being tomorrow’s leadership and advocating for change today!
Originally DLA put developed a monthly program, in the local school district, targeted at junior and seniors. The focus was on Diversity, Personal Presence and understanding how to you present yourself to the world. For several years this proved popular with the schools, and demand for the workshop grew. Initially, DLA was able to educate 15-25 students a month, from a base of 16 schools. The original workshops were set up by the DLA Board of Directors, and expert consultants provided the content and facilitation. This program was successful, reasonably costly and well received by the students.
As demand grew, DLA established deeper relationships with the school district, through alignment with the District Office. Through strategic planning sessions, DLA and the District Office was able to agree to use school premises for the workshops. With this support, in 2011, the program moved from 15-25 students a month, to our current 120-150 students per month. During this time DLA created a structured curriculum that provides the following educational opportunities:
- Diversity Awareness
- Perception Management
- Discovering Ones Voice
- How to Make the Best of the Voices in My Head
- The 5 P’s – My Personal, Professional, Public, Peaceful and Private Self
- Interview Skills and Techniques
- How to Apply for Scholarships
- How to Deal with Tough Situations and Deal with Adversity
- Listening Skills / Empathy
- Presentation Techniques
We encourage and reward active participation, and have created a safe space for students to practice many of the skills taught. We encourage open and frank dialogue. The sessions are attended by the students and their counselors (usually a ratio of about 1:8) – this brings an additional opportunity to interact with adults on many of the subjects, and to provide different perspectives on ideas.
The program has now reached the next hurdle – how do we take a highly effective, well-attended event to even more students – we need more space, more people and more dollars to be able to scale the program and diversify to other interested school districts such as Scottsdale Unified and Tempe Unified School Districts.
The students really enjoy their time in the program, as seen in both program evaluations, and more importantly the fact that the half-day monthly events are scheduled to run in the school’s monthly half-day teacher training time out. The students could all be taking a half-day off, and instead, choose to come to the DLA event. Every year, since inception we have worked with local organizations to create scholarship opportunities for the students. The students complete an application process to be eligible. DLA selects the winners based upon their application responses. The application includes questions on their time and key learnings from their involvement in the local community in which they live, and how they intend to use these skills as they move ahead in life.
The Diversity Leadership Alliance Scholarships as of 2019 has awarded $250,000 to our local Youth Academy Leaders. These awards have enabled many of these students to step into a college life they would not have been able to do otherwise. As a local Phoenix non-profit, DLA is also affiliated with partners such as the Arizona College Foundation, which exists to partner with local non-profits to enable students to attain full ride opportunities to Arizona colleges.
Personal Leadership Program
The Personal Leadership Program began in 2014 out of the monthly core classes. It became apparent students wanted to learn more about public speaking, and being able to represent themselves better in the community. This could not be easily incorporated into our current workshop structure of 120 + students, so, working with a local corporate sponsor, we created a weekend program, with scholarship opportunities, for students to attend in their free time.
This program runs over the course of 4 weekends for 3-4 hours, every January and February. It is based at one of the local libraries and students provide their own transportation, while giving up personal time, and work in order to develop their presentations between workshops.
Under the tutelage of a Masters educated Communications expert, students learn how to structure a presentation. Representatives from local corporations share real-world working needs and experiences with the students, so they understand the gaps they may need fill on their resumes. DLA’s goal is to help the students discover their personal story, with the ability to articulate it in a structured manner, in front of their peers.
The top 3 students in the personal leadership program win college scholarships totaling over $6000 per year. The winner is invited to present their story as the keynote speaker at the annual DLA Conference, in front of more than 1000 people. These 17 and 18 years olds that would have very little awareness of what it takes to construct a speech, or deliver it to a large audience, gain valuable experience through this program.
Since its inception, this program has been a high point at the DLA Annual Conference year after year. These student speakers have captured the true spirit of investing in the future. They have had the adult audience totally captured in their stories. Each youth speaker, along with their scholarships, have generally been offered intern, on the spot internship opportunities as a result of the power they have demonstrated, with their professional presentation skills in front of such an audience.
This program takes the students on a journey through story awareness, story construct and the personal ability to stand up and speak. We video, and use this as a self-development opportunity, while sharing critical components needed, in any great presentation. This program generally supports 10-20 students a year.
Annual Conference Participation
Alongside the key youth speaker at the DLA Annual Conference, there is a significant Youth presence – usually 200-300 students. In the past DLA has run a separate student workshop track facilitated by expert consultants. Subjects are generally discussed at the monthly workshops, and we look to create a great, fun, learning environment on the day. We have covered subjects such as E-Media status and what it says about you; personal branding; finance awareness and more. In 2017, DLA decided that the youth of today and our local community leaders would benefit from one workshop track that all participants attend. This meant our students and the local community were together, learning from our expert presenters and each other, bridging the generations and living DLA’s mission of inclusive community where each person is treated equally and with respect.
DLA Youth Leadership Academy
- 21 scholarships were awarded ranging from $100 Visa gift cards to two $3,000 scholarships.
- 6 students were Male.
15 students were Female.
- 5 students were African American.
14 students were Hispanic.
2 students were White.
9 students will be attending Community Colleges.
1 student will be attending an out of State College.
Data by School
How Math Saved My Life
2019 Scholarship Recipient
Abril Morales was this year’s Conference Youth Keynote speaker. She is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and attended Camelback High School. She is currently majoring in Applied Mathematics at Arizona State University. She plans to intern over the summer to explore the different types of professional opportunities for Applied Mathematics majors. In her free time, Miss Morales enjoys cooking, listening to music, and competitive ballroom dancing.
She believes that Math is a skill humans need for everyday computations. Yet, it can be used in life to create our own life equations. By implementing some math into her own life, Abril was able to create her equation for success.
Meet the Co-Chairs
DLA Board Member
Youth Academy Chair
Dominic Bartola, Chair
DLA Board Member
Youth Academy Chair
To date, through DLA sponsored scholarships, we have awarded over $250,000 to local students, enabling many to step into a college life they would not have been able to do. Being a local non-profit, we are proudly affiliated with partners such as the Arizona College Foundation, which exists to partner with local non-profits to enable students to attain full ride opportunities to Arizona colleges.
We encourage and reward active participation, and have created a safe space for students to practice many of the skills taught. The future is about our Youth and together we will create a brave new world that is inclusive and embraces and celebrates our differences.