Youth Leadership Forum

The 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 typically 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 topics such as: self-advocacy, disability pride, assistive technology, independent living, employment skills, career exploration, higher education, legislative advocacy, the Disability Rights Movement, and community participation.

Unlike past years, YLF 2020 will now take place online in order to keep our staff and participants safe due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Although this year may be different, we aim to make the event as similar to the original as possible. We recognize this may be disappointing to some, but we encourage any and all youth and Peer Leaders to apply!

Young people with disabilities can still 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:

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 extra training before the Youth Leadership Forum (more details TBA). Peer Leaders receive a small stipend for their work.


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.

Large group of YLF youth from 2019 with blue shirts on


Partners for Youth with Disabilities is proud to organize and host the 2020 Youth Leadership Forum, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, as well as numerous partners 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
  • EPIC
  • 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 Department of Mental Health
  • 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
  • Roxbury Community College
  • Southeast Independent Living Center
  • Spaulding Rehabilitation Network
  • Stavros
  • Work Without Limits
  • You’re With Us!

Program Contacts

Susan Nicastro profile picture

Susan Nicastro

Deputy Director

Phone: 617-556-4075 x113