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LAYLA (Leadership Academy Youth Leaders in Action) High School Leadership Academy



Founded in 2007, the high school leadership academy LAYLA (Leadership Academy Youth Leaders in Action) targets to promote youth leadership in the form of individual efficacy, the ability to make a community impact and academic advancement in preparation for college, career and adulthood. LAYLA is a credited class offered to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students at Napa High School, and currently has 62 students enrolled.

The three intentional areas of focus for LAYLA are: civic engagement, academics, and college & career readiness. LAYLA has a sociology-based academic curriculum, as well as providing every participant with access to academic support for all of their high school classes. In addition to academic support, college & career guidance is regularly offered and supported by a collaboration with Explorations, a college & career center operated by On The Move.

Every LAYLA student actively participates in a project group with a focus centered on building up their community, both in a physical sense with the construction of the McPherson Neighborhood Leadership Center & Cultural Plaza as well as from a cultural standpoint by learning about and teaching others about the Democracy Zone.

The LAYLA youth are doing important work and making a widespread impact on their school, neighborhood and greater community in a variety of ways by the different project groups:

  • Mentoring:The freshmen and sophomore LAYLA students have “adopted” the children of Dos Mundos, the bilingual preschool affiliated with McPherson Elementary School. Each LAYLA student acts as a mentor for a preschooler, and the “big & little buddies” spend time together every week. The focus is to engage the preschool children in the overall purpose of building up the McPherson Neighborhood Leadership Center & Cultural Plaza and Democracy Zone, and the activities are actually planned out and lead by the LAYLA youth themselves. These mentoring relationships make a lasting impression on both the children and the youth.
  • Community Build:The LAYLA Community Build youth are leading the actual construction efforts for the McPherson Neighborhood Leadership Center & Cultural Plaza. Together, they plan and orchestrate build event days, coordinate volunteers, identify and manage project work areas, and solicit materials donations from local businesses. The youth continually collaborate with career professionals, such as master gardeners, general contractors, and landscape architects, all of whom give them professional guidance and support.
  • Multimedia:Storytelling is an ancient art form. The LAYLA youth in the multimedia project group are learning and exploring old and new ways to tell the many stories that already exist in this neighborhood as well as document the creation of the McPherson Neighborhood Leadership Center & Cultural Plaza and Democracy Zone. Through photography, videography and writing, our community’s stories are being brought to life, shared and celebrated by children, youth, adults and our elders. The multimedia group has plans for developing an ongoing presence on the local cable network channel (Channel 28) and print publication, both designed to give youth a voice and provide a forum for community issues.

Political Build:The idea of building a “community” goes far beyond the traditional construction efforts. To truly create a place where everyone feels valued and there is a shared sense of belonging takes a collaboration that bridges race, age and social status. The Political Build youth are actively engaging in grassroots outreach efforts, going door-to-door to speak with the people live and work here to share about the McPherson Neighborhood Leadership Center & Cultural Plaza and Democracy Zone and involve them them in the ongoing democratic processes of making decisions together. They are actively collaborating with neighbors and government officials to create this neighborhood’s first youth-led council, in an effort to provide a space to L.E.A.D.