Greater Irving – Las Colinas (TX) Chamber Training Early Leaders
Many executive leadership programs exist all over the country for adults to gain management skills, but it’s far rarer to find a similar program for the younger generation, which often needs extra skills training beyond the classroom.
The Greater Irving – Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce offers a leadership program called “Future Leaders of Irving” (FLI) aimed at high school seniors in the region’s private, public, and charter schools. Composed of representatives from the Greater Irving – Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, the Irving YMCA, the City of Irving, and the Irving Independent School District, and funded by the Verizon Foundation, this dynamic partnership offers students the opportunity to explore career paths they might not have otherwise considered. The program works with school counselors to expose students to local leadership and community involvement opportunities that help to boost leadership potential. The goal of the program is to provide guidance for students discerning their postsecondary education or career aspirations.
Future Leaders of Irving has two classes per year – one each semester – and averages about 30-40 students per semester. Program administrators coordinate with schools to ensure that meeting dates do not clash with school tests or other important dates and that teachers are made aware of their students’ absences. Classes meet once a month for a full day and cover a wide variety of topics, including local postsecondary education institutions, non-profit organizations, local government/public safety, transportation & infrastructure, and local private business. Their graduation from the program is attended by many local business executives, community partners, and the FLI committee.
During the first pilot test in early 2010, only 20% of students had plans set in place for postsecondary education at the beginning of the program. Notably, by the end of the program, the percentage of students with postsecondary education plans had jumped to 65%. In the future, FLI plans to expand the number of participating schools and increase the number of students in each class.
“We are excited about FLI’s positive impact on our workforce and community as the program helps identify, educate, and develop our local youth to become future business and civic leaders,” said Alysia Bell, vice president of workforce development and administration at the Greater Irving – Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce.