What is the Carson YLT Program?
The Carson Youth Leadership Training (YLT) program is designed to empower youth with the leadership education, exposure and mentorship they need in order to be shaped into the next generation of leaders that are capable of leveraging their influence to inspire and manage people, projects and change in their schools, careers, churches and local and global communities.
Since Carson YLT’s inception in 2017, hundreds of youth, ranging from 13 to 23 years old, have matriculated through a creative, innovative and rigorous sequence of trainings, presentations, group activities, exercises, and assessments that are designed to cultivate the capabilities of the next generation of global-minded leaders.
“Training youth in leadership helps them to expect more,
believe more, and achieve more in life.”
Why is Carson YLT Necessary?
In Carson YLT, we recognize that training youth to be leaders has an impact that extends far beyond their abilities to guide and direct others today and in the future. Leadership training has a direct impact on youth self-image and esteem, on their confidence level, on their reach towards goal attainment, and on the lives they envision for themselves.
Additionally, Carson YLT impacts the life trajectories of youth by increasing their access to skills development opportunities often inaccessible to youth of color and youth from historically underserved communities. In doing so, Carson YLT makes advancements towards closing leadership, educational and racial equity gaps, giving program participants access to the same types of personal and life development opportunities traditionally reserved for privileged, non-minority youth.
What Can Youth Expect in the Carson YLT Program?
Through trainings, skill development exercises, team projects, field trips, and keynote speakers that represent visible models of leadership success, youth who participate in the Carson YLT program learn what makes someone a leader, how a leader thinks, listens, speaks and operates, why youth should desire to be leaders, and how being a leader can change the trajectory of their lives.
Youth are empowered with a wide range of skills that are essential to operating as effective leaders, including:
- Conflict resolution
- Emotional intelligence
- Problem solving
- Goal setting
- Leadership confidence
- Public speaking
- Personal discipline
What Makes Carson YLT Unique?
The Carson YLT program makes every effort to ensure that youth have the opportunity to explore leadership across an array of industries and from diverse perspectives.
Some of the core industry leadership trainings include:
- Leading in Business
- Leading in Finance
- Leading in Technology
- Leading in Entrepreneurship
- Leading in Education
- Leading in Medicine
- Leading in Ministry
Some of the core general leadership trainings include:
- Global Leadership
- Leading in Teams
- Leading with Impact
- Leading vs. Following
- Leading Out as a Youth
- Leading from the Follower’s Shoes
To give youth a comprehensive look at what it looks like to be a leader in every area of life, presenters representing a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and industries are used to train participants.
This program feature is inspired by the high value for education by Carson YLT’s founder, Dr. Dana Carson, who possesses a Ph.D. from Regent University, a Doctor of Ministry from Boston University, a Global Executive MBA from Duke University, among five additional master’s level and undergraduate degrees.
The Carson YLT program embraces the ethos that youth will only aspire to be what they see. Nearly 95% of the youth participating in the Carson YLT program are minorities and/or originate from historically underserved communities.
In light of this, the Carson YLT program makes every effort to ensure that the models placed before the youth participants reflect the youth themselves: high-performing, successful men and women of color who can not only talk about their leadership achievements but who have a relatable story about overcoming the odds to attain such success.
Carson YLT believes that the best way to anchor leadership principles in the minds of young participants is to exercise them, putting them into action. As a result, the program is intentional about ensuring that program presentations are not monologues, as they are most often delivered in school classrooms.
Carson YLT values dialogue, hands-on engagement, team exercises, role plays, and student presentations as a part of the leadership learning experience.
Youth feedback regarding this more interactive approach indicates that it is one of the reasons the programs is so effective at producing transformative outcomes in their lives.
When youth are exposed to the best, the best becomes a part of their expected norm, one for which they strive. To this end, all Carson YLT trainings and presentations are held in well-appointed corporate facilities with state-of-the-art equipment, including high-speed WiFi, conference lines, videoconference capabilities, and smart boards.
Youth are trained on how to engage this equipment in their group work and presentations, increasing their familiarity with these technologies so that they will be comfortable utilizing them in their future leadership roles.
The Carson YLT program include is offered in a hybrid format, which allows youth from throughout the U.S. to participate in workshops, symposiums, keynote presentations, and mentoring virtually. Future plans include partnerships with international youth organizations that will allow international students to participate in the training program online.
The Carson YLT program also partners with local STEM and STEMBE (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Business and Entrepreneurship) organizations to provide a leadership training component that complements the technical skills that youth learn in their programs.
CYLC Spotlight Students
Dobie High School Honors graduate/Fisk University graduate/ Current University of Texas Master of Public Health student.
Academically I achieved:
- Induction into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. The oldest academic honor society in the US
- Induction into the Beta Kappa Chi honors society. It recognizes achievements in fields of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
- Graduated with a BA in Biology with Cum Laude honors
As a Fisk Jubilee Singer from 2018-2021
- Appeared in a documentary featuring Samuel L. Jackson titled “Enslaved”
- Sung at Carnegie Hall (About to sing there again in March)
- Sung with Ledisi, India Arie, and other local Nashville artists
- Sung the National Anthem at Nissan Stadium twice
- Featured in a Concert Documentary about the history of Fisk Jubilee Singers on PBS
- Participated in the Album, “Celebrating Fisk” that won the group their first Grammy.
- Received the “Celebration of Legends” Award from the National Museum of African American Music
My ultimate goal is to be a significant and successful contributor to my local and global community in such a way that it surpasses my lifetime. With this goal in mind and because of the mentorship I have received over the years through the CYLC, I have been able to constantly plow through challenges without hesitation. The CYLC, under the leadership of Dr. Dana Carson, has taught me that to achieve the ultimate end goal, I have to prioritize mastering skills and academics that I seek to acquire in the present and future. With that being said, I have always chosen to take advanced-level courses as well as also be intentional about remaining a well-rounded student. Taking on leadership roles with community outreach, mentoring in a youth basketball league, playing on my school’s sports team, and participating in concert and marching band are just a few ways in which I accomplished this.
I can honestly say that the mentorship and training provided through the CYLC has not only provided the challenges but the solutions and encouragements as well. Working through the obstacle of being able to juggle my academic, social, and community volunteer activities has allowed me to assess the action/consequence factor while also encountering and working with a diverse set of people. Developing a healthy team dynamic in various groups was a direct result of the leadership skills received in the CYLC.
I have also had the privilege of being mentored by men and women of great character and work ethic. This provides me with the good pressure of wanting to serve my community and family in such a way that exceeds my years. This training also provided unwavering support and constant words of empowerment and encouragement from the camp’s mentors which helped to build my self-esteem and confidence.
Because of the leadership training and impartations received from the CYLC, I have overcome many environmental hindrances by embracing a steadfast belief that character is built through challenge, and not comfort. This is the perspective that has made me a successful college student, and in the near future, a successful businessman, and significant contributor to my local and global community.
- Manvel High School Class of 2017, Honors and Distinguished Graduate
- The University of Texas at Austin Class of 2021, B.A Sustainability Studies, Minor in Entrepreneurship
- The University of Texas at Austin Class of 2024, Master of Architecture