Young Leaders Program

The Young Leaders Program prepares youth to become leaders of positive change in their communities. They come together to develop a deeper understanding of social issues and change, acquire the skills, networks and confidence needed to affect change and to return to their communities as mobilized leaders in a globalized world. Graduates of the program leave with modern leadership skills and tools, enhanced cultural competence, expanded networks, greater self-confidence, and with a plan to create change.

The Young Leaders Access Program is a one year program which begins with the Young Leaders Incubator, a one-week intensive retreat which prepares youth between the ages of 18 and 26 from around the world who graduate as “Young Leaders” and commit to spending a year making change in their communities.

The incubator leverages expertise from leading professionals from academic institutions, development practice, and private and public partners. This happens in three phases: Modern Leadership, Global Citizenship and Local Change. During the final phase of the program, participants learn how to produce an educated, tailored and actionable plan to implement in their own communities. Participants are paired with Alumni of the program who have successfully implemented plans, in part or in whole, in communities and who will guide and mentor the Young Leaders over the year in implementing their plans in their communities around the world. Over the course of the year, Young Leaders will not only have the guidance of their mentor, but will also receive ongoing tools and resources through the MCW and the Young Leaders Alumni networks.

The Young Leaders Program also includes international conferences and one day workshops which utilize a similar curriculum to the Young Leaders Access Program.

Participants who complete the program join our dynamic Alumni Network of more than 800 people leading change in their communities all over the world. Through an exclusive alumni Facebook group and quarterly newsletters, our alumni stay up-to-date on the latest discussions around social change, and have an easy platform to connect with each other.

All alumni who complete the year program are eligible to apply for a grant to turn their plans into concrete projects through the Alumni Ventures Fund. Funding of up to $5000 and is paired with a year of professional mentorship. Alumni are eligible to apply for the grant at any point following the completion of the one year program (formerly known as the YLR).

From Over
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    Vision Plans

    Participants come to the MCW Youth Leadership Retreat with an idea of a community challenge they want to address. During the retreat, this idea is turned into a “vision plan,” which lays out an innovative way of addressing that challenge.

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    Grant Opportunity

    Retreat graduates have the opportunity to turn their vision plans into concrete projects by applying to the MCW Alumni Ventures Fund, which provides a year of start-up funding and mentorship to recipients.

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    Cultural Competency

    MCW uses the cultural diversity of its international participants as a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and build relationships.

20th Anniversary of the Young Leaders Program
Alumni Small Grants
It’s been twenty retreats since the first Youth Leadership Retreat! In the past years the program has undergone many changes, locations, and even a new name – The Young Leaders Program. Celebration is an important part of growth in any organization and we want to give you, the alumni of the program, the chance to celebrate.

MCW is awarding grants of $500 to alumni who want to host a YLP event to celebrate the 20th Anniversary. This can be anything from a guest speaker, to a dinner, to a volunteer project. The event must take place during 2017 and must relate to MCW and the YLP in some way.

Apply Now!

MCW will host a regional conference in Peja, Kosovo from April 28-30, 2017. The conference brings together youth from Europe and the Middle East, united by the goal of creating positive change in their communities. The 3-day conference will focus on creating a unique action plan to address an issue in his/her community. Workshops, lectures, and experiential learning will make up the conference.

Click here for more information.

Applications close February 20, 2017!

2017 Young Leaders Access Program


If you are a U.S. based participant applying after January 2, 2017 please click here.

Click here for a detailed day-by-day schedule for the whole week of the 2016 Program, including speakers, activities, and workshops!

Alumni Ventures Fund

The application for the 2016 AVF is closed. Winners will be announced on January 3, 2017.

All alumni who complete the year program are eligible to apply for a grant to turn their plans into concrete projects through The Alumni Ventures Fund. Funding of up to $5,000 and is paired with a year of professional mentorship. Alumni are eligible to apply for the grant at any point following the completion of the one year program (formerly known as the YLR).

Hennie Kongsøre, 2016 AVF Recipient

Hennie Kongsøre, 23, from Oslo, Norway is one of our two recipients of the Alumni Ventures Fund for 2016, receiving a grant of $5,000 to help her complete her vision.

Hennie will use the award to continue her work with Rafiki NGO, an organization she started in 2014 to help build a community center in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, where youth will be empowered through dance and the arts. In addition, the center will provide classes in English, math, and health. Hennie will be working and living in Bagamoyo as the construction project is completed; she expects classes and programs to begin later this year.

I am so grateful and honored for being chosen to receive the AVF grant and most of all to get a whole year of professional mentorship. “I can truly see a bright future for my project and a positive change in the community in Bagamoyo.Hennie
Xolani Makhebe, 2016 AVF Recipient

Xolani Makhebe, 25, from Cape Town, South Africa received a grant of $2,337 in 2016, after graduating from the 2015 Young Leaders Program.

Xolani will use the award to continue his work with The Unlimited Movement Organization (TUMO), an organization he founded in 2012 whose mission is to empower communities through career guidance, education, and tutoring. With the grant, TUMO will be able to implement its vision of covering the cost of university registration fees for top-performing students participating in its tutoring program.

“This is not just a fund to me, this is a gift from people who care about me and what I do. It will make a huge difference to TUMO and it’s an amazing feeling to know that TUMO will have its first funding.”Xolani

Learn more about our past AVF recipients and their projects here

A Global Network

Throughout the history of our Young Leaders Program, participants have come from all over the world, representing five continents and over fifty countries.

As of 2016, the global alumni network includes young leaders from: Afghanistan, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

2016 Sponsors

MCW would like to give a special thanks to the following sponsors for their support in making the retreat for the 2016 Young Leaders Program a success!

Partner Organizations

Many of our participants come from amazing organizations all over the world. We have been happy to partner with the following youth-focused organizations to help us fulfill our mission.