Project LEAD

a national program to teach leadership skills to young people

Project LEAD

Various Leagues in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and elsewhere 

Issue Area(s): self-esteem, voluntarism, leadership development, child welfare

Metric of Success (if quantifiable/available):  The Project LEAD program trained more than 1,000 youth who learned the importance of volunteer service in their communities and built self-esteem and leadership skills in the process. 


Project LEAD (Leadership Experience and Development) was a national demonstration program which sought to develop the leadership potential of a broad mix of high-school students by training them to work in teams, supervised by adult mentors, in volunteer projects that served their communities.

Initiated by The Association of Junior Leagues in September 1982, and funded with a 40-month, $290,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Project LEAD was implemented in collaboration with the Quest National Center.

How it works

At the heart of this “others-oriented” project was the concept of adults providing support and guidance to young people as they worked together for the benefit of their communities. In turn, the student leaders benefited from the experience of recruiting and guiding other young people as community leaders. The program was launched with a three-and-a-half-day leadership conference at which adult leaders and student volunteers received training and skills-building in community research, organizational development, communication and action planning.

On returning to their communities, the LEAD teams planned and implemented volunteer programs and advocacy efforts to address a community problem that was identified through a needs assessment conducted by the students of the participating schools.

Among the program's goals were:

  • To alleviate many of the educational, social, and emotional problems being faced by a growing number of the 64 million Americans under the age of 18
  • To encourage adults to share their knowledge and skills with youth and help them build self-esteem
  • To develop a new source of much-needed volunteers among the next generation

Community partners

  • Volunteers from community organizations and students in both Quest “Skills for Living” schools and non-Quest schools
  • Public, private, rural, urban schools