MVYLI 2009-2011

The Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative was developed in partnership with people and organizations concerned the Island’s youth. The Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative is a project of the Stone Soup Leadership Institute. A local Board of Directors meets monthly, and the Advisory Council meets quarterly.

In 2009 Oak Bluffs student Jesse (Taylor) Boswell attended the Institute’s Youth Summit in Virgin Gorda, BVI. She wanted to bring the Youth Summit to Martha’s Vineyard.

Sustainability, Community, Heart: Jesse Boswell Visits Virgin Gorda

In 2010 the Institute convened its 6th Annual Youth Summit for Sustainable Development on Martha’s Vineyard. During this week-long intensive leadership training program, twenty high school youth delegates envisioned their personal, professional, community and planetary goals, and develop action plans to implement service and sustainable development projects. Youth delegates were nominated by schools, churches and Vineyard non-profit organizations like the Farm Institute, Island Grown Schools, MVRHS School to Career program and others who will then mentor them during the school year and implement their Sustainability-In-Action projects.

During the Youth Summit, youth delegates worked alongside seasoned youth leaders who’ve transformed their lives and developed a 2020 Report on Sustainable Development for their island. The week will include a Sustainable Development Quest to introduce youth delegates to environmental challenges facing the island. Youth will design Sustainability-In-Action Projects to develop with their nominating organizations and mentors. Youth delegates will produce a video, create a leave-a-legacy project, write a declaration and hold a Youth Forum with the island’s leaders. Youth delegates from other small islands were sponsored by UN agencies.

Our year-round programs build on the Youth Leadership Summit and provide Vineyard youth with tools, trainings and leadership development opportunities. They develop individualized action plans to implement their personal, professional, island and planetary goals during the year. We conduct coaching and monthly workshops on college planning, career development, service learning projects for their island and the world. We expose their young minds to inspiring leaders, by opening doors and expanding their horizons. College Preparatory Program and Field Trips, Job Shadow Day, Cultural Health Project, and the Walter Cronkite Awards Ceremony. Leadership Development Opportunities include MVYLI’s Business Internship and being representatives to the Cape Cod & Islands Youth Congress, the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council, the Cape & Islands Youth Summit, the Bioneers By the Bay Conference and NAACP Juneteenth Conference.


  • Vineyard youth learn to envision, develop and present their vision for their life, their island and their world.
  • Youth receive educational tools and training to prepare them to address key issues and develop projects.
  • Invite young people to share their dreams for their lives, their community and the world;
  • Youth receive tools to make healthy decisions/choices and build on their strengths, minimize their weaknesses;
  • They learn from other youth who’ve overcome obstacles and changed their lives and their world;
  • Develop opportunities to fill their lives with purpose, meaningfulness, fulfillment by helping other youth.
  • Youth are exposed to inspiring youth leaders, learn how to develop action plans to implement their vision; troubleshoot challenges, prepare presentations, and develop strategies to engage others in their projects.
  • Youth learn to make effective presentations about their experiences and projects, featured on MVTV;
  • Youth are empowered to be representatives of issues and projects affecting their islands;
  • Creates a win-win strategy that, by design, teaches collaboration with other non-profit organizations.
  • Builds a coalition of youth, business, non-profit organizations working to build a more sustainable future.
  • Encourages coordination, collaboration and communication with education and environment community.
  • Engages business and non-profit organizations to nominate Vineyard youth, mentor, hire and support them.
  • Cost-effective collaborative model to realize goals during these economic challenges.
  • Engage businesses and Chambers of Commerce to encourage greater sustainable tourism and green economies.