Celebrating Five Years of SACOG’s Youth Leadership Academy
More than 200 dedicated young leaders have participated in the program so far
July 27, 2023: This year marks a significant milestone as we celebrate the five-year anniversary of the Youth Leadership Academy (YLA). Created by SACOG in 2018, this initiative has been instrumental in encouraging the leadership potential of more than 200 high school students and equipping them with the necessary skills to shape a brighter future for our region.
As part of its curriculum, YLA incorporates a wide range of activities to provide participants with a well-rounded educational experience. From attending informative panels on long-range planning, where experts share insights into urban development and sustainable growth strategies, to going on field trips to renowned locations in the region like the Sacramento International Airport and the Tollcrest Dairy Farm in Wheatland, students are exposed to real-world scenarios and practical knowledge that enhance their understanding of different industries.
Through this innovative curriculum, students have honed their leadership skills, developed community awareness, and built lasting networks. Reflecting on her time in the program, YLA alumna Erika Galvez shared that the program’s social activities “allowed me to gain perspective on how the creative and technical aspects of development can coexist together and create a space for learning and connecting with peers as we interact with government and community organizations.” With her newfound skills for connecting with her peers, Galvez believes that passion and collaboration can help communities reach their full potential.
Moreover, YLA’s weekly sessions have prioritized challenging negative perceptions of government processes and politics. The program has created a safe and inclusive space for participants to engage in informational sessions and panels, allowing them to voice their perspectives, share thoughts, and have their questions addressed by SACOG experts and mentors. “YLA gave me the opportunity to gain a direct understanding of community involvement, city planning, and how government works,” said Ariana Thakur, a graduate from YLA’s 2023 cohort. “I realized that there are many people that have goals to help the community.” With this foundation, Thakur aspires to pursue a career in STEM and use her knowledge to create positive change in the region.
With the most recent cohort having graduated in May, applications for a new group of high school students will open in Fall 2023. As this class embarks on their journey, YLA remains committed to empowering the next generation of change-makers, inspiring us all to work together toward a brighter and more promising future.
As we commemorate the five-year anniversary of the Youth Leadership Academy, we celebrate the achievements of its participants, mentors, and supporters. Together, their efforts have empowered students and contributed to the region’s growth, equipping YLA graduates with the skills, knowledge, and determination needed to address community challenges and shape a more inclusive, equitable, and prosperous region for all.