YNL program passes $2 million mark

Courtney Laverdure
Staff writer

The youth and nonprofit leadership program at Murray State recently surpassed the $2 million mark with $2,096,000 in grants, scholarships and fundraising for the campus and Murray community.

Provost Bonnie Higginson talks to a YNL class. The program recently surpassed the $2 million mark. || Jordie Oetken/The News

Through the NextGen National Scholarship program, $99,000 in scholarships for 22 students was awarded. The program is part of a grant from the W.K. Kellogg foundation totaling nearly $5 million awarded to students of diversity who excel in leadership and scholarship.

Former vice president of Kellogg, Bob Long, who is now a professor in the YNL program, established the grant.

The Murray State YNL program is affiliated with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, which is a national alliance of colleges, universities and non-profit organizations dedicated to educating, preparing and certifying professionals to strengthen and lead nonprofit organizations.

Murray State’s YNL program is the largest in the nation, setting an enrollment record of 670 last year, Robin Esau, YNL program coordinator said.

Arizona State University is the only other university to offer YNL as a major in the nation. Murray State added YNL as an option for a major this fall.

“Students, faculty and staff members have worked with other community members to form the YMCA, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Health Matters for Students, the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement and many others,” Esau said.

The YNL program has received 35 local and 10 national awards for excellence in academics, leadership, service and research.

“What I like about the program at Murray is the passion of the professors,” Trey Jurgens, senior from Ft. Thomas, Ky., said. “It is hard to find a program on campus or in the nation that has professors like ours. Their amount of real world non-profit experience, passion for teaching and ability to connect with the YNL students is unrivaled.”

The YNL program at Murray State prepares students for leadership roles in youth and human services organizations.

All YNL majors and minors need to attend the Alliance Management/Leadership Institute (AMI) as one of the capstone requirements to receive their Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) certification. This year’s initiative will be held January 3 through 6 in Kansas City, Mo.

“The AMI is three days of workshops, simulations and career fairs for the YNL field,” Jurgens said. “The conference allows students to network with non-profit professionals as well as other students from across the country.”

Next semester, President Randy Dunn will be teaching his first class since he has been on campus, YNL 351 (Leadership and Support Systems in Youth and Human Services Organizations).

Ronald Sickles Jr., senior from Louisville, Ky., will be the first to graduate with a major in YNL this December.

He said he has already secured a job with City Year in Milwaukee, Wis., mentoring at risk youth, with the school district.

Studies by the Independent Sector found there are more than 50,000 new positions in the youth and human service field, a YNL program flyer states.

“For the future, we want to grow the new YNL major so more and more students can contribute to the nonprofit sector in career ways,” Roger Weis, YNL?Campus Director, said. “We want to enhance and grow Health Matter for Students until it’s on every campus and the same with the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement because they are both that important.”

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