Young Leaders in Action

2017-2018 YLA Participant, Hanin Najjar


The Young Leaders in Action program engages a diverse group of students from high schools across the Portland metro area in cultivating leadership skills to become local leaders poised to take action on global issues. Built on the ethos that critical thinking, teamwork and empathy are key elements to leadership development, the Young Leaders in Action program empowers youth leaders to become agents of change at home and abroad.


Young Leaders in Action, now in its’ fifth year, is a network of engaged, resourceful and activated youth leaders in Oregon who possess the confidence and skills to be contributing members of their own communities and the broader world.

The program is built on four key program goals:

  1. Gaining a Global Perspective
  2. Developing Leadership Skills
  3. Building Intercultural Connections
  4. Taking Action on Critical Issues

Participants take part in the following activities:

Workshops on critical global issues with local relevance that are shaping our community and the broader world such as, climate change, gender equality, immigration and gun violence. Emphasis will be placed on the strategies, challenges and successes of youth-led initiatives at home and around the world.
Intercultural activities within the YLA group, with international youth leaders visiting Portland from around the world as part of WorldOregon’s International Visitor Leadership Program and with local community members.
Leadership skills trainings on how to become effective leaders in Portland and beyond including: critical thinking, project planning, teamwork, problem-solving, asset-mapping and conflict resolution. Public speaking opportunities allow YLA participants to showcase their global perspective, leadership skills and passion for social change to a wide array of audiences, including classmates and international youth at student workshops and public events.
Networking with local youth, community leaders, social service agencies in the Portland metro area and non-governmental organizations from around the world. Students gain access to local and global leaders, changemakers who have overcome obstacles, learned successful strategies and taken action on enacting positive changes in their own communities and the broader world.
Social action projects that are organized, planned, executed and led by Young Leaders in Action participants throughout the course of the program. Social Action Projects will include the broader community in a culminating event in the spring.

“I truly believe that YLA opened my eyes to different issues around the world, gave me rich opportunities to connect with the community around me, and changed how I think about myself, my place in the community, and my beliefs.”

Jacqueline, 2018 YLA participant


YLA Program Flier-2020-2021 School Year

Read more about YLA Impact on the Portland community! 


To learn more about Young Leaders in Action and get involved with our programming, please contact:


Deb Delman, Young Leaders in Action Coordinator | (503) 306-5244




Samara Chism-Winfield, Program Manager,

Global Classroom




Who should apply?

Students in the Portland metro area who will be sophomores, juniors or seniors in the 2020-2021 school year and who have an interest in gaining a global perspective on local issues, developing leadership skills, building intercultural connections and taking action on critical issues. No prior experience is necessary. 

What are the commitments? 

Applications are due September 20th, 2020. Participants commit to attending two meetings per month that begin in October 2020 and end in May 2021 (time and day of the week TBD). Meetings will be held virtually until it's safe to meet in person. When this happens, meetings will be held at the WorldOregon office in downtown Portland. Participants are also expected to attend leadership trainings during the program year, where they meet with inspiring community leaders. Participants will work in small groups to plan and execute a Social Action Project related to the global topics they are most passionate about, such as climate justice and immigration. Regular email communication with YLA Coordinator and other group members is expected. 

How are applicants selected?

Applicants are evaluated based on a demonstrated interest in and enthusiasm for learning about global issues, developing leadership skills, participating in intercultural activities, and taking action in their own communities and the broader world. Students do not need to have previous leadership experience, but they do need to possess a passion for social justice and a willingness to commit to working with WorldOregon staff and the YLA team to spend the year learning, sharing, exploring and taking action on critical global issues facing their communities.

Are there any costs to participate?

There is no cost for this program and as such, YLA participants are expected to attend all program activities. WorldOregon can occasionally provide transportation passes for students to attend meetings and YLA events.


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