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Welcome to the Leadership Division!

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Creating tomorrow's leaders through character development, mentoring, core values, good decision making, developmental assets, and internship opportunities with continued community support. YFD is also proud to offer the Chattanooga Ambassadors Program (CAP), developing tomorrow's leaders.


Improving Outcomes for Youth & Young People

In August of 2013, Mayor Andy Berke and the Chattanooga City Council approved a progressive budget that included funding to address the needs and improve outcomes of the city’s youth. The goal of the Leadership Division is to provide pathways for youth, teens and young adults to be successful. There are three signature initiatives offered by the Leadership Division:

Chattanooga Ambassador Program (CAP)

My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Chattanooga

Youth Opportunity Initiatives


Are you a teen in Chattanooga? Fill out our quick survey!

Teen Survey

Chattanooga Ambassador Program (CAP)     cap1

CAP is a 48 week, intense leadership and character development training initiative for high school juniors and seniors. Students are recruited through Hamilton County Schools, local faith-based institutions and community nonprofits. Recruitment takes place September through November through school visits, online applications and referrals. The program’s Signing Day occurs in February and Graduation takes place in January of each year. Between 30 and 50 students are recruited each year. Students participate in what is referred to as the “City Year of Services”.

Students selected for the CAP Initiative receive work-readiness training while providing support at any one of Chattanooga’s 18 Youth & Family Development Centers or a local nonprofit. Students develop personal skills needed for school, work, home and life. CAP has a 98% success rating.

CAP students mentor throughout the Chattanooga community, conduct community service, prepare for college, and meet three Wednesdays per month for training. There are four goals of the CAP initiative:

  • Enter Post-secondary Education or Training
  • Enter the Workforce
  • Improve Personal Outlook in Life
  • Reduce Risk Behavior(s)


Moved by the tragic deaths of a number of boys and young men on the streets of America’s urban cities, in 2014, then President Barack Obama challenged leaders across the nation to explore ways to improve outcomes for our youth. Chattanooga was one of 200 or more cities accepting the president’s challenge. The My Brother’s Keeper Initiative was launched in Chattanooga in December of 2014 with a series of community stakeholders coming to the table to explore better pathways to predict success for boys and young men and to align existing resources. Chattanooga submitted its Local Action Plan (LAP) in 2016 and completed its first full year of work with community partners and youth in June of 2017.

My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Chattanooga offers ongoing seminars and workshops, work training, decision-making, mentoring, field trips, learning initiatives, college prep, job readiness, leadership training and more... Boys and young men ages 5-24 participate in MBK activities.

My Brother’s Keeper partners with local youth-serving organizations to meet the following four goals as adopted in Chattanooga’s Local Action Plan:

  • Ensure that Children are Ready to Learn
  • Ensure that Youth Complete Post-Secondary
  • Ensure that Youth are Safe from Violence
  • Ensure that Youth Enter the Workforce


It is reported that the most dangerous time of a child’s day is afterschool between 2pm and 6pm.

Imagine how dangerous a day without school becomes for children with few outlets. School breaks and summers are especially a challenge for children growing up in underserved communities. Many of these children are disconnected from resources for a number of reasons, but nonetheless disconnected. The Youth Opportunity Initiative is a mobile program bringing opportunities and resources near home to vulnerable students and the poorest communities (according to Census Statistics).

Youth Opportunity Initiatives include but are not limited to:

  • Access and Exposure to Technology
  • Job Readiness Training and Placement
  • Recreation Programming
  • Leadership Training
  • Arts & Music
  • Mentoring
  • Outdoor Activities
  • College Preparation
  • Exploring New Opportunities

For more information on Leadership Division programs, or how you can help volunteer, please contact Gary Rudolph at (423) 643-6085 or email to grudolph@chattanooga.gov.




Photo by Billy Weeks