High school students learn about nonprofits, serve on boards through United Way’s Youth Leadership United program


From left, Zionsville Community High School freshman Jack Schrepferman and Carmel High School sophomore Brian Zhang at the Jan. 6 opening retreat. (Submitted photo)

Thirty central Indiana high school students have been selected to participate in the United Way’s Youth Leadership United program, which teaches freshmen, sophomores and juniors about the nonprofit sector and serving on leadership boards and committees.

Zionsville Community High School freshman Jack Schrepferman is among those selected.

“I had a few fellow classmates that had participated in the program in the past,” Schrepferman said. “I thought it would be a good thing to apply for because the United Way is a large philanthropy group. The program covers a lot of things. It focuses on philanthropy, social scenarios, leadership and skills that can apply to any possible field I go into.”

Coordinator Celeste Gellenbeck described the initiative as a hands-on experimental learning program.

“We’re interested in youth that want to make a difference in the community that will want to learn about leadership and are passionate about the community,” Gellenbeck said.

Students participate in an immersive classroom every Saturday through May.

“They come for the whole day, and each session is different. It’s not your studious day. It’s a very interactive, team-building, fun environment,” Gellenbeck said.

Students finish the program by serving on a nonprofit board with professionals for one year.

“It’s probably one of the most valuable parts of the program,” said Maggie Phelps, leadership initiatives manager. “It’s that experiential learning piece that they’re going to get even after the classroom setting. It puts them out in their community.”

Participants are paired with groups with shared interests.

“We ask them what they’re interested in and if there is an organization they would like to be placed with, and then we do have a group of organizations that we work with that are interested in youth participation,” Gellenbeck said.

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