Youth Leadership Forum

YLF participants dressed up for the closing danceThe Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is an overnight conference for youth and young adults with disabilities held annually in Massachusetts and other states across the country. YLF participants build leadership skills and leave better prepared for future employment, higher education, and independent living.

Over the course of the three-day conference, YLF participants stay in the college dorms at Bridgewater State University to experience life in a college setting. They also participate in both small and large group discussions and workshops on such topics as: self-advocacy, disability pride, assistive technology, independent living, employment skills, career exploration, higher education, legislative advocacy, the Disability Rights Movement, and community participation.

Young people with disabilities can apply to be a YLF Delegate or Peer Leader. We are committed to diversity and welcome applicants with diverse disabilities, identities, and backgrounds to apply. Below are the eligibility requirements: 


Delegates are youth with a disability who are between the ages of 16-22, and are either in their last two years of high school or are attending a transition program. Delegates must want to develop self-advocacy and leadership skills, begin to plan career goals, and build a network of supports and friends. Students in the graduating class of 2017 and 2018 should apply to be a Delegate.

To ensure that this valuable opportunity reaches as many youth as possible, youth can only participate as a YLF Delegate twice.

Peer Leaders

Peer Leaders are young adults with a disability between the ages of 18-25 who are currently out of high school and are working and/or taking college classes. Peer Leaders are responsible to help plan YLF activities and mentor Delegates.

If selected, Peer Leaders must commit to one evening training in June in Boston (date TBA), and a full day of training at Bridgewater State University on July 10th, 2017. Peer Leaders will stay overnight on July 10th and remain at Bridgewater State University for the remainder of the three day Forum event. Peer Leaders receive a small stipend for their work.

Group photo of the 2016 YLF delegates and peer leaders
Youth Application
Recommendation form

Important Dates

April 15th, 2017 - Youth application deadline
June (TBA) - Peer Leader training in Boston
July 10, 2017 - Peer Leader training in Bridgewater
July 11-13, 2017 - YLF held at Bridgewater State University


YLF is funded by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and is FREE for all selected Delegates and Peer Leaders.


Partners for Youth with Disabilities is proud to organize and host the 2017 Youth Leadership Forum, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and numerous organizations across the state:

Boston Center for Independent Living
Boston Public Schools
Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD)
Center for Living and Working
Easter Seals Massachusetts
Federation for Children with Special Needs
Holyoke Community College
Independence Associates
Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI)
Institute for Human Centered Design
Lesley University
Mass Advocates Standing Strong (MASS)
Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC)
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities
Metro West Center for Independent Living
Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps
Southeast Independent Living Center
Work Without Limits
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