Our work with the youth begins during the summer Youth Leadership Conference, where students from across the central coast are able to develop leadership skills in a safe and supportive environment. This 6 day residential experience takes place locally in the Santa Barbara Mountains and hosts 100 participants as well as 30+ volunteer staff members. Throughout the week, youth participants are introduced to the building blocks of leadership: public speaking, goal setting, assertiveness, advocacy and self-esteem. Students also have the opportunity to map out their 4-year plan to get to college and are challenged to practice advocating for their educational needs. Youth have the opportunity to express themselves through cultural activities and empowerment workshops. For many of the students, attending this camp is their first time away from home which in itself presents a challenge to many Latino youth. We want to make sure that all youth regardless of background challenge themselves to achieve their full potential through safe and positive self development experiences. The FLA way is unique, through our peer-to-peer model youth are able to learn from one another and in turn empower themselves and their community. Once students complete the Youth Leadership Conference, they have the opportunity to continue building their leadership skills through our year round program and volunteer trainings. Students are able to give back to their community by becoming mentors for future generations of FLA’ers.
Students are invited to participate in this program the summer after they complete the 8th grade. The application process runs from February – April with admissions decisions going out in early May. Our application seeks to mirror scholarship and university admissions applications by requiring youth to submit a personal statement, transcript and letter of recommendation.