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

Become a Youth Member of the Council on Youth, Education, and Families

Membership on NLC’s Council on Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Council) is an opportunity for youth to have an ongoing voice in the work of NLC and the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute), including its national efforts to promote youth participation in civic affairs.

“Being a member of the YEF Council is an amazing and unique experience that allows me to work with city councilmembers and mayors from cities across the nation and advocate for issues on behalf of the youth.” – Former YEF Council Youth Member

NLC invites any youth leader who serves on a city’s youth council, commission, or advisory board and who is also currently enrolled as a high school sophomore or junior to nominate himself or herself for appointment to NLC’s Council on Youth, Education, and Families. The NLC President will appoint up to four young people from nominees for 12-month terms starting in March 2019. Youth may be reappointed for an additional year based upon successful completion of his or her first term.

+Download Application

City Leadership For Building an Early Learning Nation

Apply now to join the Early Learning Nation Technical Assistance Program

The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families is leading a movement of local leaders who are building thriving communities through a commitment to high-quality early learning experiences and we encourage you to join us.

We invite you to apply for our 18-month long  City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation Initiative, which is open to cities of varying sizes and geographic locations.

If your city does not yet have a strong history of work on early childhood but has the desire and commitment to get started, this opportunity is for you!

Six selected cities will gain access to the YEF Institute’s nearly 20 years of experience working with local leaders to expand early childhood opportunities and will receive in-depth technical assistance along with actionable strategies to advance early childhood efforts.

Applications are due by 7 p.m. EST on November 19, 2018.

+Application Invitation Letter


Please send completed applications to Alana Eichner at, or feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.


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.  

+Read more

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.

+Read more

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.

+Read more

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.

+Read more 

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.

+Read more

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.