The Y, Metro United Way, Metro Government, Metro Council, JCPS, and community leaders around Louisville are partnering together for the third year of the youth advocacy program Metro Youth Advocates (MYA).  

The goal of Metro Youth Advocates is to create a diverse cohort of young leaders with the knowledge, skills, experience, network, and confidence to spark positive change in their communities.  Secondarily, MYA serves as an instrument for elevating the youth voice across the city and engaging young people more substantively in the issues that impact them.

Over 8 sessions, our youth advocates strengthen their advocacy, public speaking, problem solving, and critical thinking skills through intensive trainings, while engaging meaningfully with public officials, community leaders and youth from across the Louisville Metro Region. Research shows that youth engagement both reduces the likelihood of interpersonal violence and delinquency as well as promotes the development of positive youth competencies and emotional well-being.

In 2016 Metro Youth Advocates brought together 100 students from 28 different zip codes and 24 different high schools. These leaders will form the backbone of the next generation of community leaders in Louisville. Learn more about the 2016 cohort.

To have meaningful impact on an issue, community leaders need to have within their personal toolkit:

  • Inspiration to affect change on an issue important to them
  • Information about the issue from credible sources
  • Understanding of the wide range of interested stakeholders in the community
  • Skills to engage these interested stakeholders in meaningful ways (including critical thinking, listening, writing, empathy and public speaking)
  • Experience navigating official meetings, government bureaucracy and media
  • Network of other advocates and citywide connections
  • Confidence in their ability to affect change
  • During each session, students are exposed to one or more of these tools and then asked to apply them to the specific issue they have chosen.  Experts from the government, social, and business sectors meet with the students in the first portion of every session.  Students spend the remainder of every session working in small groups to develop a policy proposal about their community issue of choice. Each session introduces students to a new angle of advocacy, as described below.

    • Introduction to Advocacy
    • Advocacy Opportunities in Louisville
    • The Scope of Government
    • Stakeholders and Community Involvement
    • The Business Case
    • Communicating with Policymakers
    • Media and Philanthropy
    Check out the Metro Youth Advocates photo album on Facebook.


    For more information, please contact Ime Okpokho with the YMCA of Greater Louisville at

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