Youth for Community Improvement (YCI) promotes civic leadership through a 12 week teen led experience resulting in grants to local nonprofits working in areas of high importance to young people.

Youth for Community Improvement (YCI)


YCI is a youth-led program where students come together to identify community issues they care about and award $25,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations working to solve those issues.

This 12 week fall semester program presents an opportunity for students to work together to make a difference in their communities while also building critical leadership and communication skills by facilitating meetings, developing shared goals, developing public speaking skills and decision making through consensus building. Together they engage in community research, develop and implement a grants program, create evaluation criteria and build their network of peers while gaining access to local leaders.

YCI has been supporting young people across Worcester County as civic leaders since 1998. The program has graduated over 225 students, and has awarded over $350,000 in grants to local nonprofit organizations.

Who is eligible for YCI?

All high school students in Worcester County who are interested in developing leadership skills, enjoying working collaboratively with others, and who are willing to commit to participating enthusiastically and thinking critically to create a real, effective change in their communities.

YCI students are typically in their sophomore or junior year of high school, but we encourage all years of students to apply. We believe that every student, no matter your year or amount of experience with extracurriculars, has a valuable voice and can contribute meaningfully.

The program kicks off with 2 summer orientation sessions and then lasts 12 weeks, over the course of the Fall months. YCI meets from 4-7 pm every Wednesday during those weeks at the Greater Worcester Community Foundation office in downtown Worcester. We expect that all students who apply can attend and participate in the program fully. A transportation stipend is provided.

Students can participate for 2 years, and will serve in a further leadership capacity for their 2nd year.

How to Get Involved

This year's program will begin with 2 summer orientation dates to be determined with the group. Weekly sessions begin in early September and end in December. We are currently accepting applications for the Class of 2023 until May 15th. Click below to apply!

"This practice is driven by the core belief that everyone, and in particular young people, possess wisdom, strengths, and informative experiences to contribute to the field of philanthropy." - Sarah Shugrue, Senior Program Officer, GWCF

YCI Class of 2023 Now Accepting Applications