The LULAC Youth Leadership Program provides at-risk Hispanic youth with a positive alternative to gangs, violence, and dropping out of school. It creates a nurturing peer supported environment for Hispanics of middle school and high school age and encourages them to stay in school and develop their leadership skills.
Approximately 20 students per site meet on a weekly basis to discuss issues affecting their lives and to meet role models from their community. Speakers are invited to the meetings to present issues of concern to Hispanics and the participants discuss possible solutions to these issues. A volunteer LULAC member acts as coordinator of program activities and implements the leadership training curricula and skills development exercises.
Midway through the program the participants select a leadership project that they will undertake to impact a particular issue in their community. Adult mentors are selected from various professions to guide the students in their project.
During the last stage of the program the students conduct a leadership conference for a peer audience of 500 students. The conference includes workshops on the issues addressed during the course of the program and stresses alternatives to gang activity, violence, and dropping out of school.
Participants in the program are enrolled in LULAC Youth and become part of this nationwide Hispanic youth organization. By joining LULAC they develop the group identification and cohesiveness that studies have shown can reduce the allure of gangs.
In addition, the LULAC National Educational Service Centers conducts the Hispanic Leadership Opportunity Program and the LULAC Washington Youth Leadership Seminar for high school students.