The YIA model reminded me of similar experiences that I had in high school. It was in high school where I first began to work with nonprofits like the Rhode Island Children's Crusade and the Providence Public Library. These non-profit programs gave me my first opportunity to work with other youth within a professional setting. These non-profit organizations also gave me and other youth the opportunity to voice our thoughts and ideas in regards to how we worked within the organization to get their goals accomplished. They invested resources into us which created a sense of pride that someone was interested in what we were thinking and contributing. This made me feel personally invested in the work I was doing as I had begun to created a bond with the organization.
YIA models the notion of leading with by incorporating youth into all facets of their organization. No part of the organization that is involved with making any decision is off limits to youth participation. Youth are also allowed to create conversations with themselves and staff. Which can alter the way YIA responds to creating programs and initiatives to address their specific needs that come from these dialogues. The YIA model invests into its youth in order to create an atmosphere where they can build their social skills. These investments pay off dividends when YIA youth achieve active leadership roles within the YIA and their community. This is how in my opinion YIA is modeling the notion of “leading with” within their youth groups.