The Latino Youth Global Leadership Program is a leadership and professional engagement initiative co-sponsored by the D.C. Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs (OLA). The program aims to break the cycle of poverty, reduce high school dropout rates, and spur socioeconomic advancement of the Latino community in Washington, D.C. LYLP develops the leadership capacity of Latino youth and inspires them to give back to their communities as global leaders. In Washington, D.C., Latinos have the highest dropout rate (9%) among all high school students (Carecen, 2005). The most frequently cited factors for dropping out of high school are low economic status, teen pregnancy, lack of motivation, immigration issues and the threat of violence (Carecen, 2005).
In response to these barriers, this program aims to motivate the youth of this community by raising their critical awareness of the issues that impact their communities and empowering them as agents of change. The training is offered to rising juniors – specifically targeting Afro-descendent Latinos – from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds selected from five local high schools with the largest Latino populations. These schools include Bell Multicultural High School, Cardozo Senior High School, Roosevelt Senior High School, Woodrow Wilson High School and Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Student participants and program facilitators meet on Saturday afternoons throughout the summer to discuss leadership topics, from identity, race, and diversity in the civil rights movement, to navigating the college application process and obtaining financial aid. The program also includes interactive leadership sessions, field trips, professional development, networking, and mentoring opportunities. Throughout the program, students develop a capstone project to be shared with Phelps Stokes and OLA staff, friends, family, and various members of the community.