ChYLI Hosts Annual Service Conference

Posted on September 22nd, 2006 by

The Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Institute, a program which teaches leadership through experience, will hold its annual ChYLI Service Conference Sept. 28 and 29 at Gustavus Adolphus College.

The Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Institute (ChYLI) was developed in 1993 by the Region Nine Development Commission located in Mankato, Minn. Now coordinated through the Department of Education at Gustavus, ChYLI continues to create future leaders in southern Minnesota’s Chicano/Latino population by developing programs that instruct and encourage youth to embrace their culture and lead their communities.

A link between ChYLI’s history and Gustavus is Veronica Alba, who joined the college in 2004 as an admission counselor. Alba had become involved with the ChYLI program in 1998, serving as its coordinator while working for Region Nine. She has now resumed that role for Gustavus, where she has new resources and connections (such as bilingual college students), to strengthen the program.

“When I came to Gustavus, I saw an opportunity to continue the program, keeping the integrity of the program and the mission the same,” Alba said. Gustavus is no stranger to youth development programs, she added, noting the College’s participation in the National Youth Sports Program, a summer day camp that focuses on academic development as well as recreational sports.

Under Gustavus’ oversight, the program’s emphasis on post-secondary education will see some acceleration as well, Alba said, with visits to multiple college campuses.

“There are all kinds of youth programs out there, but youth development is the key,” Alba said.

ChYLI’s two-day annual service conference was the centerpiece of the program at its beginning through 2003. Each year, more than 50 Chicano-Latino teenagers took part in training that they applied to self-selected projects in their schools — projects such as soccer tournaments, dances, and cultural celebrations including Cinco de Mayo and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as well as classes on prejudice and the dangers of illegal drugs. The student leaders are in charge of all aspects of the projects — from budgeting to alerting local media about the newsworthiness of the events.

This year 70 high school students from St. James, Sleepy Eye, St. Peter, Madelia, and Mankato will take part in the conference.

An eight-week follow-up program will also be conducted in the St. James, Sleepy Eye, and St. Peter schools through a grant from Minnesota Department of Education. These sessions will focus on respect and communication, personal values and goal setting, career exploration, college preparation, sensitivity to diversity, barriers to education, and civic responsibility and engagement.

“Students are very willing to work hard and change things that they feel aren’t right,” she said. “We just have to provide them with the opportunities. Most of the Latino students will stay in the area. We want to make sure they have a productive life.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


Comments are closed.