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Urban Leaders

Mission Year partners with Urban Mentors Network to offer a dynamic program for Oakland youth called Urban Leaders.

Urban Leaders is a small co-ed, one year intensive program for senior high youth focused on helping locals teens develop into servant-hearted community leaders.  This is a program focused on helping teens develop their leadership skills, their understanding of social justice and poverty through a faith perspective while also doing community service. Youth will be challenged to take a leading role in improving their own neighborhoods. Youth will learn Mission Year’s approach to neighborhood engagement and get a taste for the Mission Year program.

Program Basics

The focus of this program is educating youth on social justice, racism, poverty and helping them develop a Christ-like response as young leaders to these matters in their own community.

  • Program runs from September through July.
  • Urban Leaders meet as a group once a week with the Urban Mentors Director Jaime Taylor to discuss life and learn practical skills.
  • Urban Leaders read curriculum about issues of justice, service, race, relationships, leadership and faith.
  • Urban Leaders build a supportive community with one another where they can share about their struggles and joys.
  • Urban Leaders organize and participate in monthly community service project.
  • Urban Leaders volunteer with Urban Mentors to assist and mentor younger kids in the community.
  • Urban Leaders go on college visits and learn about educational opportunities.
  • Urban Leaders take part in annual Green My Hood initiative.
  • Urban Leaders can earn stipend up to $250 each trimester and earn a year-end trip.

Application Process

Teens apply to the program. We are currently accepting applications for new participants. Email urbanmentors {at} for additional information. Upon acceptance they participate in weekly meetings, monthly service projects, one-on-one mentoring and weekly assignments.

Criteria for Mission Year Urban Leaders

  • Growing faith
  • Desire to be part of positive change
  • Leadership potential
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Commitment
  • Support from a parent or guardian
  • Completed application
  • Two references (one from a pastor and the other from a teacher/mentor/employer)
  • Need to show up consistently and be committed for the entire program.


Each trimester the teens earn a stipend based on their performance. Points are calculated weekly based on their attitude, attendance/promptness and completion of reading and assignments.


The first Urban Leaders group was launched in the Fall 2011 under the direction of Jaime Taylor, Director of Urban Mentors and Mission Year alumni. We had four Urban Leaders who successfully completed the program. For their year-end trip they traveled from Oakland to Atlanta. They were able to earn a trip to Atlanta which allowed them to visit colleges, travel out of the state for the first time, do community service along with touring civil rights museums and landmarks. It was an irreplaceable life changing experience.


Jaime Taylor directs the Urban Leaders Program. Jaime is the Founder and Director of Urban Mentors, an organization started 11 years ago to mentor youth in her neighborhood in Oakland. Jaime is a Mission Year alumni 2000-2001 and former Oakland City Director 2010-12. She is passionate about Oakland and mentoring youth. Click here to request Jaime as a speaker.

For more information about bringing the Urban Leaders program to your city, contact our Program Director.