Former Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr., (Courtesy Photo)

The Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute (MYLI) was renamed the “Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute” in honor of the late councilmember and former Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr., who died Nov. 23.  Former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray enacted administrative Order 2014-338, that made the name change official, during his last days in office.

“Among the many causes he championed, Mayor Barry believed strongly in investing in our youth and founded the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute in 1979 to give them the tools they need to succeed and impact the future,” Gray said. “It is only fitting that we rename the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute in his honor.”

Barber Kevin Matthews, who secured his first job through the Barry’s Summer Youth program in 1987, said that in addition to honoring Barry, the name change promotes creating legacies among area teens. “As young people we thought of life as immediate challenges and rewards, and today’s young people are the same.  Barry established rules and set asides just for young Black teens in D.C., that have had a long-term impact on the city and the individuals,” Matthews said. “For his strength of insight to be acknowledged after he passed away, encourages young people to think in terms of what positive things they can leave behind for others.”

The Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute (MBYLI) is a four-level, year-round leadership training and development program for District of Columbia youth, ages 14-19. The training model emphasizes practical hands-on experience and a holistic approach to developing leaders of the 21st century. Each of the four levels of the training model – Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omega – has a unique focus area. The Alpha level focuses on personal growth and development skills. The Beta level focuses on community development. The Delta level focuses on college exploration and preparation, and the Omega level focuses on life skills, career exploration, and places Youth Leaders in internships.

Common training themes include: team building skills, personal development, communication skills, employability skills, public speaking, city government structure, community service, and college/career preparation.

New participant recruitment takes place in the spring for the MBYLI Summer Intensive Training component. Youth Leaders are selected through a rigorous screening process. The summer portion of training is conducted for six weeks on a local college campus. It includes training seminars, community labs, youth government elections, cultural events, guest speakers and open discussion forums.

The school year component of MBYLI focuses on applying the skills learned during the summer. Activities include community service projects, general body meetings, youth-related forums, and additional leadership development training. MBYLI Youth Leaders are also called upon to represent the youth of the District of Columbia at events throughout the city, country, and world.

The renaming honors “the memory of Mr. Barry and his contributions to the governance and progress of the District of Columbia and the welfare of its citizens, which contributions were particularly significant in the nurturing and development of its youth,” Gray said.