The Youth United Way Leadership Program (YUW) improves the quality of life for youth by promoting civic engagement, fundraising and leadership development.

Youth United Way is a year-round program designed to encourage students to volunteer in their community. We see the other side of teen behavior – the positive side – exemplified by community-minded students working together for a better future for themselves and others, fostering community service activities for students at area schools.

Youth United Way is an investment in a positive future, developing young leaders and promoting youth philanthropy and community service. For over 20 years, YUW has helped develop and empower teens to become productive citizens in our community. Youth United Way helps today’s teenager learn that living responsibly and actively contributing to our community are vital parts of the investment in a positive future.

Youth United Way is designed to build interaction among youth of different backgrounds, opinions, and beliefs. As youth rally around the goal of helping their community, they learn and understand other perspectives.

Youth United Way is guided by an Executive Board of Directors and an Executive Board Chair. The Youth Board Chair also serves on the Board of Directors for United Way of the Mid-South. Youth United Way members also serve as ambassadors of the program, speaking to other youth about the benefits of giving back to their neighborhoods.

Over 100 members serve on one of three standing committees: Fund Distribution, Community Service and Marketing & Promotions. Youth United Way also is a voice for teens in the Mid-South, working with other youth groups to advocate issues of concern for teens in our area.

A few years ago, Philliber Research Associates explored information from 3,000 youth in Shelby County. They found youth involved in structured community service programs were more likely to:

– Avoid drugs, tobacco and alcohol
– Increase school attendance
– Improve grades and test scores
– Increase job readiness
– Decrease school discipline problems
– Have increased leadership skills
– Improve communication and decision-making skills
– Have knowledge and understand the consequences of sexual activity
– Increase their computer and technology skills
– Decrease delinquent behaviors
– Avoid school suspension
– Have increased comfort with diversity
– Attend college
– Become productive citizens


Annual Activities:

“Let’s All Say Cheese!”

is an activity developed to benefit Ronald McDonald House. Students donated boxes of Macaroni & Cheese for use by families who reside at the facility.

“Pins For Pennies”

Kick-Off activity serves to bring parents, students and supporters together in a fun day of bowling, games and food as funds are raised for Youth United Way.

Bountiful Baskets

is our annual project that allows students to create baskets of food, supplies and the necessities for families during the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Shoebox Christmas

serves as an annual activity where members donate tennis shoe boxes and stuff them with toys, school supplies and clothing items. Boxes are wrapped and taken to a local elementary school during the Christmas Holidays.

Youth Recognition Banquet

is our annual appreciation activity for active members, family and friends of YUW. YUW members are honored at the banquet for their participation in the program. At this event, students receive commendations and awards for their hard work and dedication to Youth United Way. Graduating seniors are also recognized for their college choices and scholarships.

YUW College Readiness Seminar

is a half-day seminar for graduating high school students to help prepare for the demands of college and the developmental process that takes place through college life. The seminar showcases where students can learn how to complete college entrance and scholarship applications, learn to better prepare for their freshman years and beyond, and have stronger financial stability to better acclimate themselves for college. The seminar includes informative sessions from current college students during a panel discussion, and offers student and parent workshops covering topics such as life skills preparations, college admission techniques, financial aid advice, panel discussions for parents and a motivational message.

Senior Corporate Luncheon

is an annual event for YUW graduating seniors hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis-Memphis Branch. This event also incorporates aFinancial Literacy workshop and a behind the scenes tour of the infrastructure of the Federal Bank.

For More Information:

To become a member of YUW, please complete a new member application to initiate the process. We accept new members each year.