Institute for Youth, Education and Families

The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families is the go-to place for city leaders seeking to improve outcomes for children and families. With expertise in early childhood success, education & expanded learning, promoting a culture of health, youth & young adult connections, and economic opportunity & financial empowerment, the YEF Institute reaches cities of all sizes and brings together local leaders to develop strategies via technical assistance projects, peer learning networks, leadership academies, and Mayors’ Institutes.

Featured Opportunity: Mayors' Institute on Affordable Housing Invitation to Apply


The National League of Cities, in partnership with NeighborWorks America, invites cities along with their community partners to apply to be a part of our upcoming Mayors’ Institute on Affordable Housing and Health: Advancing City-Level Strategies to Generate Sustainable Solutions on April 2-3, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.


The goal of this convening is to support mayors in their efforts to identify and advance practical, comprehensive solutions to problems of housing affordability in their communities by engaging residents and community-based organizations in the design and development of community-centric housing and health initiatives.


Interested cities should submit a Letter of Interest by January 28, 2019 and full application by February 4, 2019 to Leah Ettman at Selected cities will be notified by the end of February, and mayoral participation is required in the Mayors’ Institute. We encourage cities to partner with NeighborWorks network organizations on this effort in order to provide both community input and affordable housing expertise.


+Download the Invitation to Apply

Featured Resource: Triage Centers Brief

Triage Centers Help Cities Reduce the Use of Jails for People Suffering Behavioral Health Cises

Triage centers provide a strong opportunity to bring first responders and community-based service providers together to effectively address behavioral health crises and improve quality of life across a city.

As part of NLC’s role in the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, NLC collected examples and guidance on triage centers from national partners and cities across the country. To learn more about triage centers and what other cities are doing, view the newly released policy brief, Triage Centers as Alternatives to Jail for People in Behavioral Health Crises. 

Triage Centers as Alternatives to Jail for People in Behavioral Health Crises




Education and Expanded Learning

A skilled and educated workforce is increasingly vital to a community’s economic vitality. Even when city officials do not play a direct role in governing their school systems, there are numerous ways in which they can exercise leadership to support public schools, expand alternatives for students who struggle in traditional educational settings, increase high school graduation rates, and promote college access and completion.  

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Health and Wellness

Mayors and city leaders play a pivotal role in the overall health and well-being of the cities and towns they serve. With generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at the National League of Cities (NLC) is leading an effort to educate, train and build the capacity of city leaders to address the social determinants of health and improve health outcomes where individuals live, learn, work and play.  From seeding promising practices and innovative approaches to leading cross-sector initiatives, NLC will engage mayors and city leaders in problem-solving sessions, trainings and peer-learning networks to ensure health is a key factor in their decisions across a range of issues, including education, early childhood, housing, land use, transportation and community development.

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Youth & Young Adult Connections

NLC supports and informs city leaders and stakeholders interested in improving public safety and reforming the juvenile justice system. We also provide peer learning and support to the growing number of citywide programs reconnecting young people to school.

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Early Childhood Success

Research shows a critical period of child development is birth to age 8, not just physiologically, but also cognitively, emotionally, and socially, setting the basis for future health and wellbeing. Children are cities’ future and city leaders are well positioned to champion the needs of young children and families. NLC is working with city leaders to align early childhood systems, improve quality and access, ensure every child enters school ready to learn, and ultimately reaches their full potential.

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Economic Opportunity and Financial Empowerment

City leaders can help families and neighborhoods become more economically secure by connecting children and families to public benefits and helping families learn financial skills, save for emergencies and the future and invest in assets that generate wealth and income.

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Strong Southern Communities Initiative (SSCI)

The Strong Southern Communities Initiative is designed to provide practical help and advice to municipal leaders in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. It brings together local elected officials from across the region who want to improve outcomes for children and families, enabling them to share ideas and discuss the challenges facing their communities.

In addition, SSCI helps participating mayors and city councilmembers develop local action plans based on their unique circumstances and needs, and then connects city leaders to national experts and regional partners who can help them implement those plans.

Click here to read more about the Strong Southern Communities Initiative and sign the pledge form.