What We Do

Opportunities for growth at every touchpoint

Below are some examples of the ways our students and program impact the community. For more details on upcoming events, we invite you to check out our Events page.

Youth Service America (YSA) “Youth changing the world!”

Youth Leadership Institute of Erie incorporates several pieces of YSA’s learning and leadership programs into our program as a whole. Our joint initiatives help young people find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues.

All of these efforts are geared to help young people lead community change through Awareness (educating others to change behaviors), Service (using their passion, creativity, and idealism to solve problems through volunteerism), Advocacy (to change policies and laws), and Philanthropy (generating and donating financial and in-kind support).

As educators across the country work to implement the Common Core State Standards and teach 21st century career and workforce skills, Semester of Service provides an effective framework to help teachers actively engage students in their own learning while improving their local communities.

Through Semester of Service, students are motivated to achieve as they see the knowledge and skills they are learning in school are relevant and useful to their community now, and not in some distant future. As such, we at YLI encourage our participants (students and teachers) to identify one, two or three academic strategies, such as:

  • Student Leadership Development
  • Citizenship / Civic Education
  • Career Exploration

Semester of service is sponsored by State Farm.

“A Day of Expression”

The Youth Leadership Institute of Erie and members of its Student Ambassador Leadership Team (SALT), take time each year during the month of January to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life and legacy.

The MLK Day of Expression is meant to shed light on a message of empowerment through creativity, service and nonviolence. This two-part project provides students an opportunity to address their involvement in community, art and culture.

An art contest is held, with student participants being encouraged to artistically expressing their interpretation of King’s dream, realized.

Winning entries are then utilized to help inform the community and encourage greater involvement in Global Youth Service Day.

Dedicated to celebrating the contributions that young people make to their communities year-round and mobilizing millions of young adults, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) has become the largest youth-led community service event of its kind.

Established in 1988 and celebrated in greater than 100 countries, GYSD is the largest and longest-running service event in the world. It is the only day of service dedicated to children and youth.

The now millions of participants in GYSD work together with schools, youth organizations, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, volunteer and national service programs, government agencies, faith communities, and other individuals to address the world’s most critical issues.

Many organizations find that working with students allows them to expand the capacity of their organization or agency while allowing them to provide students with an opportunity to have positive learning experiences. Through service learning, students are able to examine the role of community organizations and contribute to them while also enhancing their understanding of their curriculum content.

Youth Leadership Institute of Erie strives to perform services in the following areas of our community:

  • Environmental Improvement
  • Homelessness and Hunger
  • Elderly and Veteran Support
  • Children and Youth Services
  • Special Needs Assistance


National Night Out is an annual event conducted by the Youth Leadership Institute of Erie Student Ambassador Leadership Team (SALT) and is held in partnership with the United Way of Erie County.

This event focuses on building community partnerships and opening up relationships between community residents and members of law enforcement.

Dedicated to the development and promotion of crime prevention programs, including neighborhood watch groups, law enforcement agencies, state and regional crime prevention associations, businesses, civic groups and individuals, this event helps ensure safer communities for all.

Locally, YLI efforts consist of providing:

  • Crime Prevention activities
  • Police – community partnership formation
  • Neighborhood camaraderie events
  • Children and Youth Services
  • Special Needs Assistance

Collegiate representatives have also been on hand at past events in order to provide information to residents and older adults who are seeking to advance themselves academically.

The event seeks to build neighborhood camaraderie and awareness of those partnerships that can assist people in the neighborhood through life at every level. The event features clowns, face painting, music, balloons and free food for all. The Erie Police Department provides police cruisers and the Erie Fire Department provides fire trucks to assist in building community.

YLI Erie holds an annual 9/11 day of Remembrance & Celebration along with a Disaster Preparedness Safety Awareness Fair.

This event helps honor those who tragically lost their lives in the tragic attack on September 11th, 2001, while promoting appreciation for first responders and disaster relief service professionals.

2021 President’s Luncheon

This year’s President Luncheon was hosted on Friday, November 12th from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm at the Ambassador Banquet and Conference Center, 7794 Peach Street.

Our special guest speaker this year was graduate of Gannon University, Mayor Christopher Charles Frye, Jr., the first African-American Mayor of New Castle, PA.

Additionally, we honored awardees: Dr. Keith Taylor, President of Gannon University, along with Dr. Parris Baker, Director of Gannon’s Mortuary Science Social Work Program.

View event flyer