Youth Workforce Leaders Academy Graduation

Last week, Community Foundation staff members celebrated the inaugural graduation of the Youth Workforce Leaders Academy. The Academy was launched this year through the support of the Community Foundation’s Greater Washington Workforce Development Collaborative where the Foundation and a dozen other philanthropic partners are co-investing in programs throughout the Washington region that focus on building local residents’ literacy and workforce skills to support their movement toward greater economic security. The Academy was conducted by two nonprofit community anchors – the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates and the Institute for Educational Leadership. Through their hard work the Academy supported the development of fifteen youth workforce leaders from both the nonprofit and DC government sectors.

The ceremony featured two dedicated workforce leaders as keynote speakers: Deputy Assistant Secretary Eric Seleznow, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor and the Honorable Elissa Silverman, D.C. Councilmember At-Large. Deputy Assistant Secretary Seleznow spoke on the importance of developing tomorrow’s leaders and regional collaboration for workforce development success in the District. Councilmember Elissa Silverman echoed Secretary Seleznow’s comments and remarked on the importance of new ideas, “keynote speakers usually come to impart wisdom on you, but I am here to soak up wisdom from you all. We need innovation in workforce development!” Both speakers issued invitations to the graduating class to come to their offices and share their insight from working at the ground level with DC’s workforce.

One graduate, Elizabeth Edwards, Associate Director of Programs at Year Up, described it as “a powerful experience to work with so many insightful, driven people engaged in youth development and local workforce development and share questions, ideas and resources.” All graduates completed a capstone project upon graduating, and Elizabeth’s was IT Certifications For All. A model for a 47-week program that would result in Year Up graduates earning at least two IT certifications by the end of the year.

This program was made possible by the generous support of the Workforce Collaborative members and donors who will be supporting another Leaders Academy class next year!

For more information on the graduation ceremony and details on the program, click here for DCAYA’s round-up and here for IEL’s.

For more information on how to support this program contact Benton Murphy, Senior Director, at