When a program is close to 20 years old, it must be doing something right.

So say the supporters of Leadership Renaissance, the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce’s youth leadership program.

Kenda Shields of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce said the program is in its 19th year of building and empowering students as leaders for the future.

"The program focuses on personal leadership skills as well as sessions designed to better acquaint students with issues of local concern," Shields said. "The program is designed to encourage young people to make North Little Rock their home and actively participate in the community as adults."

Leadership Renaissance is open to high school juniors who live in North Little Rock without regard to which school they attend.

The program was developed in partnership with the North Little Rock School District, and students are excused from three days of classes to attend leadership sessions. Catholic High School for Boys, Mount St. Mary’s Academy, eStem, LISA Academy, Central Arkansas Christian School, Abundant Life and Sylvan Hills’ schools also permit their students, who live in North Little Rock, to participate.

Sessions include Principles of Leadership, Government and Law, and Education and Economic Development. A graduation dinner is held at the conclusion of the program where parents and business leaders attend along with the students.

Tuition is $50 and scholarships are available if needed. This year’s class consists of 35 students. Students will receive reference materials with a focus on leadership principles. Breaks, lunches, the graduation dinner, a class picture, graduation certificate and lapel pin are also provided to each student.

Students are selected upon the basis of their answers to five questions including why they want to participate, long term goals, and an example of a time they had to provide leadership. During the selection process, names are removed from the applications so that the selection committee can fully focus on the responses to the questions.

The general public is able to help this program to be a success by providing various types of assistance, according to Shields.

The following are some ways people or businesses can help:

• Provide one or more $50 scholarships for 12 students;

• Sponsor a lunch for one or more sessions ($200);

• Sponsor drinks and snacks for one or more sessions ($100);

• Sponsor the graduation which includes a meal for the students and their families ($1,000);

Shields said she hopes people who want to invest into the future of North Little Rock young people to become involved with this program."

"I encourage you to assist this youth program in whatever way you can," Shields said. "Please look over the following list and let me know if you are able to.We appreciate your support."

For more information, contact Shields at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce at 372-5959 or email kenda@nlrchamber.org.