Contact Search

Youth Leadership Academy

About the YLA

The Youth Leadership Academy is a week-long experience that improves member leadership skills.

Thank you for your interest in the Youth Leadership Academy (YLA)! Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 YLA will be a virtual event. The virtual academy will take place July 26-29, 2021 and will be a meaningful and engaging experience for young people across the country. The YLA will include interactive workshops, opportunities to learn from activists and influencers, small group discussion, mentoring and the opportunity to meet like-minded youth! We hope you’ll join us this summer and participate in this unique experience. Leaders like you are the ones who make a difference during difficult times.

Are you a motivated high school student who's ready to lead social change and help create an equal world?

Plan International USA (Plan) is looking for young change-makers who want to learn more about global issues and civic engagement. If this sounds like you, the Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) will be a highly transformative experience.

What is the Youth Leadership Academy (YLA)?

The four-day program includes interactive workshops on topics such as climate change and gender equality; learning from youth advocates and influencers; and networking with other aspiring youth activists to tackle social issues on a local and global scale. The 2021 YLA will be held virtually.

At the YLA, we’ll help you:

  • Develop your personal leadership style.
  • Unpack and understand the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Learn how to advocate for yourself and the social issues you care about.
  • Gain expertise in designing and implementing projects.
  • Make lifelong friends with like-minded participants and members of the international development community.

After the YLA, you will become part of Plan’s national network of youth leaders, media influencers and international development experts, all of whom are committed to social impact! You will implement your Leadership Development Plan (LDP) during the 2021/22 academic year on an SDG of your choice with help from a Plan mentor. This is a perfect opportunity to expand your skills while preparing for college and beyond. Your LDP can also be used for high capstone projects or service-learning credit.

Alumni say the YLA …

  • Increased their confidence to advocate for issues they care about.
  • Improved their ability to take on leadership and advocacy roles within their community.
  • Was a good way to meet and network with other young activists and change-makers.

Application deadline:

The 2021 YLA application will open with priority deadline on April 16, 2021 and general deadline on May 14, 2021. We will accept applications on a rolling basis until the close of the applicaton on July 7, 2021.

Apply today

Additional Information:

YLA 2021 Agenda

Check out the YLA agenda to see all of the sessions you will get to participate in this summer!

After the YLA

After the YLA, you will be supported and engaged by a Plan Youth Advisory Board mentor, who will support you as you implement your LDP.

YLA leadership development project spotlight: Lilie

A year ago, Lilie wasn’t familiar with the subject of period poverty. By October, she was the youngest and only American panelist on Kotex’s Girl Unlocked: Challenging Period Perceptions 2020 panel. Find out what changed.

What some of our youth leaders are saying:

Youth Leadership Academy member Ava

“My experience here at the YLA was empowering! Not only did I engage with young people and proven leaders across the U.S., but I was able to learn what it truly means to serve globally. I loved every second of it and I can’t wait to continue to be involved!“

 – Ava, 15 (YLA 2020)

Youth Leadership Academy member Sandra

The YLA was really the highlight of my summer. I am so grateful to have gotten this opportunity to meet inspirational leaders, learn about the sustainable development goals on an impactful level, and to make life-long friends!”

 Sandra, 15 (YLA 2020)

Youth Leadership Academy member Anika

“I came into the YLA with prior leadership experience, but the fear of being alone always held me back from taking that extra step; the biggest thing that YLA taught me is that I’m never alone. I’ll always have a community of passionate and like-minded individuals behind me, and within that community lies collective power. YLA truly was an extremely fun and eye-opening experience that not only helped me learn more about myself as a leader but also left me inspired and empowered to make a change.

 Anika, 15 (YLA 2020)

Cost to attend

Thanks to a generous donor, Plan is able to offer the YLA for free to all participants.

About us

Plan International USA is a girls’ rights organization. Powered by supporters, we partner with adolescent girls and children around the world to overcome oppression and gender inequality, providing the support and resources that are unique to their needs and the needs of their communities, ensuring they achieve their full potential with dignity, opportunity and safety.

  • Apply for Plan International USA's 2019 Youth Leadership Academy.
  • View the 2016 YLA Curriculum.
  • Meet the staff from this year's YLA!

We can only accept this payment method from U.S. drawn checking accounts. The 9-digit routing number comes first and is surrounded by the "" symbol, the account number comes next and is followed by the "" symbol. The check number is not used. The account information should be from a check and not from a deposit slip.