Emerging Community Leaders

The application period for 2018 is closed.

Click here to join the interest list for our 2019 ECL Class.

Thank you for considering the Emerging Community Leaders program! We believe this is the best program for young professionals who are looking to get involved in the community’s nonprofit sector and meet other community-minded young people.  Our program’s mission is to help young professionals CONNECT, SERVE, and LEAD

Each year, a class of Emerging Community Leaders (ECL) take part in this growing group of young leaders in our community. We hope you will be one of those people. There is no financial cost to be part of this year-long program. You are making a commitment to give your time, talent and treasure beyond your current workplace environment with a goal of becoming a future leader of Champaign County. You must be willing to commit time to this program and your community in order to successfully complete the program.

The ECL program laid the ground work for my community involvement. It helped me see needs in our community I didn’t know existed, and inspired me to offer up as much of my time and talent as I could spare to help others. Being around so many other like-minded people was not only energizing, but motivating. Through the ECL program I met Kelly O’Neill- she and I later went on to co-found Girls Go For It, a nonprofit after school program that empowers young women and helps them develop their leadership and professional potential.” - Cynthia Bruno, 2013 ECL Graduate



About the Program

Our four seminars are the core of the ECL program. They feature distinguished guest speakers and high-quality content that will help you get involved in our community. The seminars will:

  • Teach you the basics of nonprofit operations

  • Show you our community's challenges through our interactive, award-winning poverty simulation

  • Advise you on how to become a great community leader through board member service or high-level volunteerism

  • Share how you as a volunteer can help the organizations you love fundraise effectively

Attendance at the Advancement Seminars is required to complete the program.

One of the best parts of the class experience is getting to know your fellow ECL participants! Before or after each Advancement Seminar, we provide the opportunity to network with other class members. We’ll also plan social events outside of the Advancement Seminars. 

The Team Project is your chance to apply the knowledge you’ve gained at the Advancement Seminars to create positive community change. Your team of 6-8 people will have six months to wrap yourselves around one of our community’s challenges in Education, Income or Health.

You will work together to create positive change and lasting impact. You’re not alone in this - your project team will have guidance from the ECL committee and we will provide a list of ideas that are ready for you to tackle! You can expect to spend about 3 hours each month on your team project.

Get the behind-the-scenes tour! Four local nonprofit organizations will open their doors and show you how they are impacting our community. This tour will show you a side of your community rarely seen by others. Be sure to attend this event – it’s only offered to ECL participants!

Roll up your sleeves and get involved! You can get to know your fellow class members over six group volunteer opportunities! We provide a variety of chances to give back: our signature Illinois Marathon hydration station, collection drives, working a gala, and more. We will show you a variety of ways that you can give back!

At the conclusion of the program, your Team Project group will present your work to your fellow class members at the Capstone Event. Finally, we’ll celebrate your accomplishments at the Graduation Happy Hour.

Mission of the ECL Program:

Connect with other young professionals who want to make a difference in the people’s lives in Champaign County.

Serve in group volunteer projects across Champaign County

Lead the way through educating yourself on community issues and non-profit operations through four advancement seminars


The application period for 2018 is closed.

Click here to join the interest list for our 2019 ECL Class.

Anticipated start date: March 2019

For more information, please contact Mary or check out our page on Facebook.