The Initiative’s Youth Leadership Program aims to develop the next generation of North Carolina leaders through an intensive, innovative five-week summer program. In 2017 the organization celebrated the 10th Anniversary of this unique program with a new video.  

When I see these young people, and when I see the transformation that happens in them in a short period of time, it encourages me that transformation is possible for all of us.
–  Initiative CEO Tara Kenchen

The program places rising high school seniors in internships with high-performing community organizations around the state. It exposes them to the world of community economic development while giving them experience in the workplace.

The Initiative provides a stipend for each student in exchange for work on a five-week project at a nonprofit in their home community.

Interns have completed projects such as coordinating a community health fair, assisting with creating a business plan, creating youth programs for children, building community gardens, developing community outreach campaigns and assisting with the documentation of the organization’s work in the community (via photos, video, testimonials, reports, etc.).

Interns gather every two weeks in Raleigh to share experiences and participate in forums designed to hone their leadership skills, including:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Financial literacy
  • Servant leadership principles
  • Personal branding and marketing
  • Ethics and personal values

During their time in Raleigh the interns also participate in field trips to the N.C. General Assembly and other key state landmarks to introduce them to potential future career paths and to give them the opportunity to meet with innovative leaders at work.

For information, contact Barron or Katrina Damon, (919) 858-6330,

Many thanks to our sponsors

BB&T Oak Foundation Z Smith Reynolds Foundation Wells Fargo Triangle Community Foundation PNC Suntrust Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust NeighborWorks America