Individualized Learning Plans How-to Guide – Section I, Career Planning & Management, Youth Development & Leadership

Youth Development and Leadership

In brief, youth development is the process of helping prepare youth to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences that aid them in gaining skills and competencies.  Youth leadership is the distinct area of youth development that focuses on the ability to analyze one’s own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and vocational goals, and have the self-esteem to carry them out.  It includes the ability to identify community resources and use them, not only to live independently, but also to establish support networks to participate in community life and to effect positive social change.It includes training in skills such as self-advocacy and conflict resolution; exposure to personal leadership and youth development activities, including community service; and opportunities that allow youth to exercise leadership and build self-esteem. 

Given the broad range of skills involved in youth development and leadership development, it is important to consider both in- and out-of-school learning opportunities that can be offered throughout the school year. For schools using a 9-month calendar, it is also important to consider ways to provide students with opportunities for summer work experience and other summer learning opportunities.

Some ready-made opportunities for youth development and leadership activities are already being offered in schools.  For example, the requirement for student community service projects can offer students the opportunity to take the lead in the research, design, planning, and implementation of such projects with guidance and supervision from school educators and counselors.  Similarly, participation in activities such as classroom debates and extracurricular high school debate team give students forums for learning and practicing youth development and leadership techniques.  High school sports, fine arts programs, and various high school clubs also offer opportunities for youth development and leadership development.

Sample ILP Activities   

Selected curricula, lesson plans, and other activities to use and adapt when helping students develop leadership include:

A number of curriculum, models, tools, and other resources are available to help teachers and counselors implement youth development and leadership activities and programs. These include:

State-Based Youth Development & Leadership Resources to Consider

A sample of the state-based resources for engaging students in youth development and leadership activities follows:


Go to Next Section

Return to Table of Contents

Need help viewing a document? View our document help page.

Have a comment or suggestion in regard to our site? Please send us your feedback.