Dutchess Youth Leadership Programs

Dutchess County Youth Leadership Graduates Class of 2013

The Chamber Foundation, Inc., the non-profit educational organization of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, graduated nearly 60 students from the inaugural class of the new Youth Leadership program during a recent ceremony held at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.  These graduates, high school students from all corners of Dutchess County, were the first class to complete the course after it was re-organized and brought under control of The Chamber Foundation.  The Gap, Inc., which donated $20,000 to the program during the graduation ceremony, proudly sponsors Youth Leadership.

Youth Leadership is an innovative, two-year leadership development program designed to develop the academic, social and life skills of area high school students and focuses on giving these participants out-of-the classroom leadership experiences.  Participants meet monthly from September through May to discuss different topics relating to leadership and wellbeing. 

As part of the program, students formed their own corporation through Junior Achievement.  This year, Help 2 Originate designed, produced and marketed beverage tumblers emblazoned with the class-designed company logo.  After soliciting capital and finding stakeholders at Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce events, the class began selling their colorful drink bottles in the community.  At the end of the semester, the students were able to offer their investors a 50 percent return while also deciding to donate $500 of their profits to benefit the Saint Francis Military Wellness Center, a gesture never before undertaken by any Youth Leadership class.

In total, the nearly 60 students completed over 300 hours of community service and 200 hours of on-the-job internship training during the course of the academic year.  Two students even earned three college credits via a partnership between Youth Leadership and the Marist College Greystone Program, and one other was selected to receive a college scholarship from The Chamber Foundation as Zachary Ericson was awarded the Juan LaFuente Memorial Scholarship to aid him in pursing a career in engineering.

Applications for the 2013/2014 are currently being accepted until August 9.  Any high school sophomore or junior is encouraged to fill out an application by visiting  For more information, students and their parents can attend a complimentary information session on Wednesday, July 31 at 6 p.m. at the Chamber’s office located at 1 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 400 in Poughkeepsie.  Call 845-454-1700 ext. 1000 with questions.  #Dutchess