YLA Kicks Off September 2021!

Youth Summit Student Leaders

What is the Youth Leadership Academy?

Sophmores and Juniors! Looking to challenge yourself and stand out from the crowd? Empower your student story with life changing experiences and opportunities through the Montana GEAR UP Youth Leadership Academy (YLA). Gain unparalled access to GEAR UP state leadership. Voice your ideas and opinions for how to better GEAR UP. Gain volunteer and leadership experience to put on college applications or job resumes. Have a chance to travel to Washington D.C. or San Francisco. Everything has been paid for by your Montana GEAR UP program! Interested? Keep reading! 


The YLA is a unique opportunity for GEAR UP (GU) students to learn and explore leadership concepts and how to apply them at school in a tangible way through service learning projects.YLA students will...

  1. form relationships with other GEAR UP students from across the state
  2. travel for a yearly training,
  3. participate in monthly webinars
  4. implement a service-learning project or internship at school!

The YLA program runs from May 1 - April 30th of each year. Interested participants make a 1-year extra-curricular commitment to the YLA learning community during this time. Service projects and internships take place throughout students' junior or senior year.

Youth Leadership Academy Conference - Billings, Fall 2021

Youth Leadership Summit (YLS) - Washington D.C, Summer 2022

Students who paritciapte fully in the YLA program and who successfully complete a service learning proejct or intership during their time in the YLA will have the opportunity to be nominated for the Youth Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. in 2022! Gear up for over 3.5 days of exciting workshops and incredible sight seeing in the big city. The program culminates with a student-led presentation to the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference attendees. Click to see the action from 2019!

Dance off - Youth Summit 2019

How Can I Get Involved?

Eligible students include current 10th and 11th graders. Students commit to building a service learning project or particpate in an intership in school year 2021-2022. All students should be involved in GEAR UP programming, excited to fully participate, able to behave appropriately in an adult conference setting, and display leadership qualities inside and outside the classroom.

Application & Recruitment

Students must complete a short YLA application which includes supppmental questions, and aletter of recommendation.

  • February 15 - April 15: YLA recruitment window2 student applicants will be selected from each GEAR UP school.
  • April 16: Deadline to submit student applications GEAR UP by 
    • Email applications to mtgearup@montana.edu or;
    • Mail to: 560 N. Park Ave. Helena, MT 59602 or;
    • Submit to your GEAR UP coordinator at your school and they will get it to us!
  • May 1: Students notified of selection to the Academy.
  • June 1: Deadline to complete enrollment forms for each student and family.

Enrollment Forms

The following forms must be completed by each student to participate in the program.

Information & Handouts

  1. Add yourself to the 2021 - 2022 YLA Facebook Group and Google Classroom to participate with other student leaders in discussions!
  2. Connect with our current curriculum and trainings provided by SEEDS!
  3. Any question on how to conenct? Ask Sam! sgaretson@montana.edu
  4. YLA Toolkit