The Y is committed to nurturing teens and college students to help them grow strong roots for success. Building a strong foundation in leadership early in life encourages youth to take an active role in strengthening their communities as adults. Here are some highlighted initiatives designed to contribute to teen leadership:

Teen Thrive

Teen Thrive is a menu of program opportunities designed to promote equitable outcomes in health, education, college access and workforce readiness for underserved youth. Options for middle- and high-school students include:

Y’s Start, where middle schoolers connect with new friends and give back to our community through volunteering. 
Leaders Club, which builds leadership skills through service-learning activities and projects.
Achievers, a college-access and career-readiness program that helps young people prepare for life after high school.

Teen Thrive programs are accessible to all teens, and can really make a difference—see how the Y has helped teens gain confidence, build life skills, give back to the community, make friends and more:

Y Make Change

The Y Make Change initiative creates a pathway of social responsibility, leadership development and civic engagement from middle school into young adulthood.

University Y

Located right on the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities campus, the University Y (UY) serves student leaders in their commitment to learn, grow and thrive. The UY is a space for students to gather together, build relationships and become leaders by serving as mentors and role models to youth in the community. See how the UY welcomed Kristen and gave her leadership opportunities.

Outdoor leadership

Kids ages 13-18 develop leadership skills through active participation outdoors in the Boys Outdoor Leadership Development and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development (BOLD/GOLD) programs, which include trips to the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota.

Youth in Government

Since 1946, the YMCA Youth in Government program (YIG) has provided students with the opportunity to develop leadership skills and experience democracy in action through Model Assembly and Model United Nations.

Explore how YIG helps develop the next generation of leaders.

Youth employment opportunities

The Y plays a key role in reducing barriers to employment by providing youth with numerous job opportunities, without the prevailing social bias against experience or personal circumstances. As one of the largest youth employers in the metro, the Y partners with other local agencies like Step-Up, Hired and Emerge in order to make quality Y jobs available to a greater number of youth.