After-school program focuses on next-generation leaders

Sixth-grader Lauryn Reed is learning what it takes to work as a team and become a leader. She is part of Everyday Leadership, an after-school program for Boise School District’s low-income students.

“It’s not about being popular,” said Lauryn, a Koelsch Elementary student. “I want to learn how to be the best leader.”

The program teaches fifth-and-sixth grade students leadership skills, including teamwork, communication, cooperation, conflict resolution, and decision making. This year, 192 students are enrolled in the program at six Boise schools (Garfield Elementary, Grace Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Koelsch Elementary, Taft Elementary, Whitney Elementary).

Everyday Leadership is taught by Treasure Valley Family YMCA staff. Kids meet every two weeks after school for 13 sessions a year. Kids also participate in three community service projects and attend a three-day leadership retreat at the YMCA’s Horse Thief Camp.

“These kids are the future for our community — successful communities have successful leaders,” said Kersey Hill, the youth director at the Treasure Valley Family YMCA.

Community partners include Boise Sunrise and Boise Metro Rotary Clubs. They help pay for program funding. The cost is $6,940 per school and funding also comes from local organizations and donors.

“Our goal is to bring this program to every Title I school in the Boise School District,” said Bob Rainville, a member of the Sunrise Rotary club.

Everyday Leadership started in 2013 and uses data to track student outcomes. Students take a self-assessment exam at the beginning and the end of the program. Program leaders look at grade-point averages, attendance and behavioral incidents. Last year, 87 percent of students enrolled in the program improved grades or had a GPA of 3.5 or higher and behavioral incidents declined by 65 percent.

“We are involved with a life, and putting kids on the right path with the tools to learn how to be a leader,” Rainville said.

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