Young Leaders in Action

Young leaders in action logo

Young Leaders In Action (YLIA) is a youth-led initiative of the Heart of Illinois Community Foundation and Rotary Club No. 180 of Decatur.

Through monthly meetings and volunteer opportunities, YLIA/Interact members will enhance their leadership, communication, social, and analytical skills. Members are familiarized with nonprofits and build an understanding of philanthropy through the grantmaking process.

Two Scholarships Announced for 2024 YLIA Graduates

St. Teresa High School graduate Joella Livingston received the Matthew and Natalie Beck YLIA Female Leadership Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship was established to encourage and empower young women to assume future leadership roles in their communities. Actions, not titles, make leaders, and this award honors a female YLIA member who demonstrates high academic achievement and a commitment to leading social change.

Joella will be attending the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, to study Biology.

Warrensburg-Latham High School graduate Faith Bennett received the Wiesemann Family Scholarship. The $2,500 scholarship was established to honor a YLIA graduating senior with high academic achievement, excellent leadership qualities, and a passion for helping others.

Faith will be attending the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, to study Speech Pathology.

Three YLIA scholarships are offered annually.

Member Expectations

  • Be a responsible steward of money allocated for our community.
  • Form opinions objectively and without bias so decisions made reflect the community’s best interest.
  • Commit to creating an inclusive environment for all members.
  • Be excited to work with other high school students across Macon County.
  • Serve as a positive representative of YLIA to the Community Foundation, fellow YLIA members and community members.

Meeting and Event Expectations

  • Attend at least seven of the nine scheduled meetings from September to May.
  • Dedicate at least four hours per month to YLIA meetings and activities.
  • Attend four or more volunteer outreach opportunities.
  • Attend at least one site visit to a potential grantee organization.
Temethia Joyner MCCF 24

YLIA Facilitator Temethia Joyner

Decatur native and educator Temethia Joyner is program facilitator of Macon County’s Young Leaders in Action (YLIA) group. Last fall, she began her 17th year teaching for the Decatur School District. An ABAR-certified (anti-bias, anti-racist) educator, she currently teaches at Montessori Academy for Peace. She enjoys mentoring new teachers and other educators who are interested in incorporating social justice, peace education, restorative justice and/or antiracism within their classroom communities. She also works with high school students and young adults within the community, helping them find alternate routes to their goals when circumstances have created roadblocks.

“I look forward to creating diverse experiences, facilitating the power and gift of serving others as well as helping young leaders identify their strengths and harness their true potential,” Joyner says. “And I’m excited to be a part of the Community Foundation, an organization that has the passion for serving and giving, something that has been both instilled and modeled for me by my amazing parents, Vincent and Debra Barbee.”

A Millikin University graduate, Joyner holds a bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis in sociology, and she earned her credential as a Montessori educator at both the lower and upper elementary levels from the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center. She also is completing a master’s degree in educational leadership Eastern Illinois University. Previously, Joyner spent a year as an instructional technology coach for the Professional Development Institute and through that experience learned that her passion remained with Macon County’s youth.

“I have found that, in my experience with youth, that having a strong consistent presence, providing mutual respect and getting out of the way while providing an unwavering safety net creates an environment in which young people can grow in ways they never imagined,” Joyner says.

Joyner and her husband, Emile, have three children.

Need volunteers? YLIA is here to help!

Our Young Leaders In Action group is comprised of 97 youth from Macon County High Schools and Home School students. YLIA seeks impactful volunteer opportunities. Please send your organization's name, contact information, impact day description, location, hours, number of volunteers needed, and duties/tasks to Temethia Joyner, at tjoyner@heartofillinois.org. Please indicate whether your event is open to the public.