5 Year Report

MVYLI’s 5-Year Report

OVERVIEW The Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative (MVYLI) was founded in 2009 with local school and community leaders and is a project of the Vineyard non-profit, Stone Soup Leadership Institute (The Institute). MVYLI’s year-round program is free and provides youth with the tools, training and leadership opportunities necessary for them to realize their dreams for their life, their Island and the world.  During the past 5 years, MVYLI has had a powerful impact on Vineyard youth.  MVYLI’s 5 year Report highlights our success, including qualitative results from our Performance Metrics and qualitative data collected from the youth we work with.  MVYLI’s first alumni graduated from colleges in 2015, many are first in their family to attend college. MVYLI has a strong and diverse staff, credibility with the community, gratitude from the parents, and youth-ownership. 

MVYLI is very much aligned with my 5-year plan for Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools.   In the past, our students have greatly benefitted from MVYLI’s emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, expanding their horizons and helping them think about their future.   I’m especially pleased to see this year’s focus on writing.     Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea


  • MVYLI Youth: 76
  • MVYLI College Youth: 46
  • MVYLI College Field Trips: 17
  • Mentorships: 60
  • Leadership Metrics: Increased scores by 10.5 points
  • Major Youth-Led Leadership/Sustainability Projects: 5
  • Organizations nominating Vineyard youth: 50 
  • Scholarships: 46
  • Built a Teamof youth delegates, MVYLI Visioneers, and Emerging Leaders (college students who serve as faculty at the Institute’s Summit) and trained local people to be Project Coordinators in their communities.


  • AmeriCorps:10 members for 3 months renovated building, cleared mile Cape Pogue beach, planted 1,000 leeks
  • Governor’s Statewide Youth Council members: 2010-2015
  • MVRHS Brazilian Student Lunch: 40
  • Multicultural Middle School Essay Contest: Edgartown School: 100
  • School Assembly MVRHS & MVPCS: students & teachers: 700
  • Speaking Engagements: 20
  • Sustainability Tours: 5 to 24 locations
  • Beach Clean-Ups: 10 organizations
  • Press: 26 articles in print and online
  • Videos produced and aired on MVTV: 10

MVYLI YOUTH: Class of 2016: Iris Albert, Chris Aring, Aurora Austin, Cooper Bennett, Arden Bezahler, Patrick Best, Lauryn Bond, Taber Caron, Bella Chimes, Cana Courtney, Alison Daigle, Barbara dePaula, Belle DuPon, Rose Engler, Lucy Enos, Jacquelyn Hegarty, Skyler Cameron, Elijah LaRue, Olivia Lingren, Audrey McCarron, Jack Murray, Ben Nadelstein, Lila Norris, Ryan O’Malley, Sara Poggi, Carmilla Prata, Willa Vigneault: Class of 2015: Caley Bennett, Avery Hazell, Kristine Hopkins, Noah Kleinhenz, Katrina Latkis, Kelsey Moreis, Katherine Reid, Grant Santos, Owen Singer, Oren Solomon Osnoss: Class of 2014: Lucas Amarins, Tallula Brodsky, Toron De Luz, Nathaniel Horwitz, Willoe Maynard, Charlotte McCarron, Jacqueline Menton, Lucy Norris, Lilly Neville, Mary Ollen, James Roddy, Isabel Smith, Isabelle Wadleigh; Class of 2013: Shavanae Anderson, Sivana Brown, Julia Cooper, Isabella El-Deiry, Jacob Lawrence, Charles Pikor, Maggie Riseborough, Oscar Thompson; Class of 2012: Eva Faber, Shelby Ferry, Cerina Gordon, Emma HallBilsback, Chris Pitt, Future, Andrew Randall, Anna Hughes, Meagan McDonough: Class of 2011: Amoy Anderson, Shawna Brown, Je’Vaughn Crooks, Evan Hall, Grant Meacham, Courtney Minnehan, Kayla Johnson, Mary Vogel.

Our Programs

  1. MVYLI Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development inspires, educates and empowers young people (ages 14-21) to take initiative in their lives and on their island.  In this weeklong intensive leadership training youth delegates envision their personal, professional, island and planetary goals.  The Summit begins with a Sustainable Vineyard Tour to learn first-hand about green projects on the Island.  Youth meet in professional work groups with college students and begin developing 5-year plans for their lives.  They also identify and develop action plans for sustainability projects to help their Island. 

Nomination Process: Island schools, non-profit organizations, and community leaders nominate youth to serve as Summit delegates.

  1. MVYLI Career Mentor/ Job Shadow Day During the last 4 years MVYLI matched 60 Island businesses and professionals with Vineyard youth.  This one-day experience has been eye opening and life changingand in 2014 Job Shadow Day became the year-round Career Mentor Program.
  1. MVYLI College Prep & Field Trip Program was developed to assist seniors with their decisions-making process. Workshops and individual sessions to explore youth career goals and college options, meetings with their guidance counselors to develop an action plan. Meet with parents to clarify MVYLI’s program goals.

MVYLI’s conducted SAT/ACT workshops and assisted with the scholarship application process. MVYLI conducts field trips to Massachusetts’ colleges where Vineyard youth meet with professors, students and go on campus tours. MVYLI facilitates video interviews with college admissions officers nationally. We are proud that all MVYLI youth are accepted/attending four-year colleges.  MVYLI’s SAT-ACT Pilot Program: Based upon feedback from colleges, MVYLI created a pilot program using the ACT (American College Testing). Score increased by 200-400 points/student.

  1. Cronkite Awards Ceremony: 2010-2014 Walter Cronkite was the honorary chairperson of the Stone Soup Leadership Institute for over a decade.  His wisdom and vision of preparing our youth as future leaders gave rise to this Annual Awards Ceremony.  The Awards are presented to those using the power of the media to create positive social change in the world.

Part 2. LEADERSHIP PROJECTS: Sustainability

  1. Sustainable Vineyard Project: MVYLI Youth Leader: Emma HallBilsback: 2009-2013

Vineyard youth created the first Sustainable Vineyard Tour, Map and 2020 Report, to envision their Island with “green eyes.”  The project is about young people’s voices being heard and their involvement in planning for the Island’s future. 

  • Martha’s Vineyard Commission:During the Youth Summit, Vineyard youth delegates created the first Sustainable Vineyard Map with the MV Commission’s top cartographer. This is the first step towards engaging youth in the Island Plan, which was developed over the last five years, but without youth involvement. Presented to island leaders and seasonal residents at the Cronkite Awards Ceremony at the Old Whaling Church to demonstrate how we can create a sustainable Martha’s Vineyard for future generations.
  • Sustainable Vineyard Tours: Orange Peel Bakery, Cronig’s Market Solar Project, Eliakim’s Way, Vineyard Golf Course, Thimble Farm, Allen Farm, Morning Glory Farm, The Farm Institute, Island Co-Housing, Island Grown Schools, Martha’s Vineyard Fish Hatchery, EcoMV, Island Alpaca, The Hob Nob Inn, West Tisbury Dump Dot’s Boutique, Wampanoag Tribal Center, African American Heritage Trail, Steamship Authority Terminal, MV Regional High School, YMCA Martha’s Vineyard, Tomahawk Charters, Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, Island Spirit Kayaks 
  • Farmer’s Roundtable: 2012

MVYLI’s Sustainability Project included a Farmers’ Roundtable that led to greater collaboration and development of sustainable initiatives like Thimble Farm (see Case Study).

  1. LEADERSHIP PROJECT: Multicultural Assembly Project: Isabella El-Deiry: 2011-2013
  • Superintendent Weiss “Minorities in the MV Public Schools: Panel & Public Forum”at MV Hebrew Center.   Charlayne Hunter-Gaultwas keynote speaker.  Shavanae Anderson filmed MVRHS students and produced the video – Vineyard Multicultural Youth Sharing Their Voices
  • Multicultural Essay Contest with Vineyard Middle Schools: Enhanced youth language arts and public speaking skills; built bridges among diverse cultures and between middle and high school students; encouraged cross-fertilization of ideas to create a culturally respectful and positive learning environment while reinforcing MVYLI’s mission. 
  1. LEADERSHIP PROJECT: Ocean Sustainability-In-Action Project: Elise Quebec: 2014-2018
  • Beach Clean Ups: Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Initiative
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute: collaborate on field trips, internships and project-based learning.

Collaborated With Vineyard Leaders involved with Ocean-Sustainability

  • BiodiversityWorks
  • County of Dukes County
  • Felix Neck, Massachusetts Audubon Society
  • Friends of Sengekontacket
  • MVRHS Environmental Club
  • Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group
  • Martha’s Vineyard Commission
  • The Farm Institute
  • The Trustees of Reservations
  • Tisbury Waterways
  • Tomahawk Charters
  • Vineyard Conservation Society
  • Wampanoag Natural Resources Department


  • Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School:

        with Voc Ed, Spanish, History, Guidance Department, Science, Alternative Education Departments.

  • Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School: MVYLI Advisory Council member; six students served as youth delegates; participated in field trip to Senator Kerry and Governor Patrick’s offices; participated in Multicultural Assembly, hosted ACT Testing.
  • Martha’s Vineyard Community Television:trained 8 students; developed internship for 6 youth who produced 10 videos; Cronkite Awards to 4 youth; videos featured on MVTV (see list)
  • Martha’s Vineyard Film Society: Free movies & educational exchanges

Selma – brought 100 people out in a blizzard for a free screening and discussion of the film which chronicles one of the most significant victories of the civil rights movement 

He Named Me Malala– organized screening and discussion of film and movement for girl’s education.

  • YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard: hires MVYLI youth for summer camps and programs.


  • MV Times and Vineyard Gazette:
  • MVY Radio: MVYLI youth have been interviewed for two special shows to share their dreams and plans.
  • Plum TV: featured MVYLI youth along with excerpts from the Vineyard Youth Summit highlights video.

Performance Metrics

The Institute’s Performance Metrics piloted at the 11th Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development.  We were impressed to discover how much these youth delegates learned in just one week. The Inquiry Form outlined 8 categories: Personal Confidence, Social Awareness, Life Planning, Communication, Leadership, Community Service, and Global Awareness. Youth were asked to respond to a series of questions on scale of 1 to 10.  We also asked what for their GPA to help assess academic success.  The Performance Metrics is a living document that continues to evolve with each evaluation process.

  • Average increase in scores was 10.5 points. 
  • Most dramatic increases: Leadership, Communication, Personal Confidence and Community.


Emma HallBilsback was nominated by Sidney Morris The Farm Institute. At the 2010 Summit Emma worked with Sidney and Chris Siedel, cartographer at MV Commission to begin MVYLI’s Sustainable Vineyard Map Project.   For MVYLI’s Job Shadow Day 2011, Emma was matched with TFI’s Director where she learned how they needed greater lobbying support for Vineyard farmers.  For MVYLI’s 2012 Job Shadow Day, Emma traveled to Boston to shadow Brad Mitchell, MA Federation for Small Farmers. They visited Senator Dan Wolff to express the Vineyard farmers concerns. Emma, MVYLI and TFI organized a Farmer’s Roundtable and invited ALL Vineyard farmers.  This Roundtable led to greater support from Boston, and catalyzed farmers to work together, including buying Thimble Farm to provide healthy food to all the island’s children.  Emma prepared a report on MVYLI Sustainable Vineyard 2020 and presented it at the Cronkite Awards 2012.   Emma received a MV Vision Fellows with a gap year in New Zealand and is now at Hampshire College.


MENTORS: 2010-2015

Cape Air, Geraldine Brooks, Pat Gregory, Educomp, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Dr. John Lamb, Dr. Melanie Miller, Dr. Julia Stunkel, Len Morris, Galen Films, John Klein, Polarex, Karen Krowski, Psychologist, Rebecca McCarthy, Lawyer, Ed Merck, college professor, Norman Hall, Hall International, Film-Truth Productions, Edgartown Police Department, Grey Barn Farm, Island Window Design, Kevin McGrath, MVRHS Librarian, Grace Sundman- Burton, Hurd Publishing, CONNECT to End Violence, MV Community Services, The Harbor View Hotel, MV Shellfish Hatchery, Barbara MacDonald So. Boston Neighborhood Housing, Wynton Marsalis, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation, MV Fashion Week, MV Film Center, MV Hospital, Operating Room, Emergency Room, Rehab & Radiology, MV Savings Bank, MV Magazine, Market 36: Cody Brewer, Erik Hollenberg, Nelson Mechanical Engineering Design, Noticeability: Dean Bragioneer, Oracle software writer, Ellen Leverenz, Pricewaterhouse Cooper: Boston, South Mountain Company, Spanish Consulate: Boston, Rose Styron, Amnesty International, The Farm Institute, The Harbor View Hotel, U.S. Senator John Kerry’s Communications Director, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Office Manager, Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

MVYLI: Advisory Council 2015-2016

Karen Brush, Steve Cahillane, Budget MV Car Rental, Christina Christensen, Rebecca Conroy, Conroy & Co Real Estate, Matt D’Andrea, Superintendent, Patti Leighton, MV Savings Banks, Nancy Gardella, MV Chamber of Commerce, Nathan Gould, Norman Hall, Hall International LLC, Melinda Loberg, Tisbury Waterways, Adam Turner, MV Commission, Rebecca McCarthy, Kevin McGrath, MVRHS Librarian, Sidney Morris, The Farm Institute, David Nathans, MV Museum, John Rizzo, Principal Oak Bluffs School, Elizabeth Rothwell, The Harbor View Hotel, Dan Scully, Winnetu Ocean Resort, Bret Stearn, Wampanoag Natural Resources, Noli Taylor, Islands Grown Schools, Susan Wasserman, Gretchen Underwood.


MVYLI Founded Fall 2009: The Institute conducted a Community Planning Process with MVRHS, MVPCS co-founder, Sidney Morris, Oak Bluffs Principal, MV Chamber of Commerce, Noli Taylor, Island Grown Schools and community leaders.  Building upon the Institute’s success youth leadership initiatives on other islands, we were invited to develop the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative. The Institute provided seed capitol and developed a grassroots fundraising campaign with in-kind donations from the Vineyard community.

  • 2000: Celebration of Heroes Project & Event with Middle Schools: organized major events including the Celebration of Heroes Awards Ceremony with Walter Cronkite. 1999: held Leadership Training for Island educators; every student received the book, Stone Soup for the World; piloted Educational Curriculum; Make A Difference Day: service projects benefitted 10 Vineyard organizations: 100 people; organized the 35th Anniversary of Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech with President Clinton and Congressman John Lewis.
  • 1997-2001: The Institute was founded with a series of Stone Soup gatherings with people from all walks of life. During this four-year initiative we developed partnerships with schools and created projects and events that inspired young people to help preserve the Island’s tradition of service and work together to improve their community.