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Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA)

What is RYLA?

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is an intensive leadership program for young people ages 14-30. Organized by clubs, districts, or multidistricts, RYLA allows participants to learn new skills through civic

engagement and personal and professional development opportunities.

RYLA program might include workshops, interactive activities, or more formal presentations. It could be designed for secondary school students, university students, or even young adults starting their careers. You also determine its length.

Through RYLA events, clubs, districts, and multidistricts equip young leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to make real change locally and globally. In turn, clubs and districts benefit from the fresh perspectives of RYLA participants and alumni.

A RYLA program should aim to:

  • Develop young people’s leadership skills and recognize those who are making a positive difference in their communities

  • Instill a lifelong commitment to service in young people and connect them with ongoing opportunities to serve through Rotary

  • Fulfill Rotary’s commitment to youth service by empowering young people through leadership development

Why organize a RYLA event?

There are many good reasons to get involved in RYLA. Here are just a few:

  1. Prepare youth for a strong future: As a Rotary or Rotaract club member, you know that our world needs as many young leaders as possible to address local and global challenges. Rotary’s fifth Avenue of Service, Youth Service, emphasizes the importance of empowering young people through leadership development. Organizing a RYLA program gives club members an opportunity to do just that, by serving as mentors to promising young people in their community. Through the support and guidance of members like you, young people can develop the skills they need to find their voices and take action.

  2. Build connections: RYLA provides the perfect opportunity for young leaders in the family of Rotary to connect and collaborate. Be sure to involve Rotary Youth Exchange students, Interactors, and Rotaractors so they can learn more about Rotary and meet other young people who are committed to making the world a better place.

  3. Expand your reach: RYLA is often a young person’s first encounter with Rotary. In fact, Rotary International estimates that over 50,000 young people are introduced to our organization through RYLA every year. This presents a tremendous opportunity not only to reach young leaders but also to foster lifelong connections to Rotary. Make sure RYLA participants understand the opportunities available to them through Rotary. Encourage them to join an Interact, Rotaract, or Rotary club depending on their age and goals. Explain how they can start their own club if they can’t find one that meets their needs or interests. You can also introduce participants to Rotary’s other programs, such as Rotary Youth Exchange and New Generations Service Exchange.


Although RYLA is open to young people ages 14-30, you are strongly encouraged to focus your event by inviting participants of a similar age and maturity level. By targeting a particular age group, you can design a program that meets participants’ needs. For example, a RYLA event for 16- to 18-year-olds might work on leadership skills that participants might need during the college or university application process. A RYLA

event for 22- to 30-year-olds might focus on the skills necessary for career advancement. Remember, RYLA is also an opportunity to engage young people who have leadership potential or special needs, as long as you have qualified volunteers and access to appropriate facilities.

Length and timing

The duration of your RYLA event most are 3-10 days, but you can choose the length that is best for your program.

Think about how much time volunteers, facilitators, and committee members can dedicate to a RYLA event. Also, be sure to consider participants’ schedules. You may need to hold your RYLA event during a school break or, if you’re working with participants in their 20s, accommodate work and family schedules.

Weather conditions may also affect your timing. If your event will include outdoor activities, be sure to inform participants in advance so they’ll be prepared and pack appropriately.


Decide on the focus and format of your event as soon as possible. Both will affect logistical decisions you’ll have to make early in the planning process. Participants’ ages and interests will help you establish your focus.

Most RYLA events cover the following:

  • Leadership theories and finding your leadership style

  • Communication skills, including public speaking

  • Collaboration and team building

  • Problem solving, peacebuilding, and resources for promoting peace

  • Ethical leadership

  • Social justice and advocacy

  • Indentifying and addressing community needs

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion

resources: RYLA handbook

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