Red River Student Speaks at National Conference

Red River High School 2019 Salutatorian Sagar Patel, 18,  joined the International Youth Foundation to present at the Collective Impact Convening, held in Chicago May 14-16.  He spoke passionately to an audience of non-profit organizations, foundations, corporations and research institutions about how organizations can successfully involve young people in the design of programs meant to serve them and his experience doing this in the spring of 2018.

As Patel stated, “For a long time people have been doing projects to help young people without getting their opinions on the topics first… The adults wanted to hear from us… Why not help adults, help us?”

In his presentation, Patel shared how IYF had included him and many other local high school students to help decide, with local community leaders, how funding for IYF’s LEAPS initiative should be used in Louisiana. Sponsored by BHP and implemented by IYF and Step Forward and other partners such as Red River High School, the two-year LEAPS initiative prepares young people ages 11-24 with the fundamental skills needed to thrive in the 21st century world of school, work, and life. Red River High School is working with LEAPS to provide on-the-job training and life skill training for students. Patel is also a member of a regional Teen Advisory Committee created through the LEAPS project.

Patel spoke on the opening day of the convention as part of a 90-minute breakout session entitled “Creating Youth Opportunities: A Systems Change Approach to Workforce Development.” The session explored how IYF works with partners globally to connect young people to better economic opportunities through the improvement of education and market functions.

A community-driven initiative, LEAPS forges partnerships with community organizations to expand access to programs, services, and opportunities that engage and prepare young people.

About the International Youth Foundation

For more than 25 years and in over 100 countries, the International Youth Foundation (IYF®) has focused exclusively on helping young people succeed. A global nonprofit organization, IYF believes that there are three keys to achieving this success: learning skills that will endure, earning a livelihood, and growing as an engaged citizen. IYF supports youth in developing work readiness skills, choosing a career path, and securing employment or deciding to start or grow their own small business or social venture. The resilient spirit of these young women and men inspires us and gives us purpose. IYF initiatives have benefitted more than 7.4 million young people directly, and over 12 million additional people have benefitted indirectly. We forge partnerships to deepen investment and impact in youth employment and engagement. In cities and towns across the United States and around the world, IYF empowers young people to lead productive, fulfilling lives. To learn more, visit

For additional information about Mr. Patel’s presentation or the LEAPS program, please contact IYF Program Director Katie Raymond at (202) 674-1606.

News Release from IYF

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