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Youth Leadership
Development Programme

Young Hearts, Hands and Voices for Social Change

Nigerian youths are pressed for action and eager to lead and create change. However, there are questions about whether they have all the knowledge and skills required to succeed in such positions. Do they have the right models to follow? Do they fully understand what it means to lead themselves first and then others?

To bridge this gap, LEAP Africa designed the Youth Leadership Development Programme to equip undergraduates in tertiary institutions with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to play active roles in actualising the Sustainable Development Goals, contribute to nation-building and community development, speak up for social issues and collaborate to lead change.

Participants of the YLDP go through self-paced courses developed on the programme’s three pillars: leadership, active citizenship and community/sustainable development group mentorship sessions with expert social innovators and change makers who will guide them as they implement impactful change projects, inter-school debates on national issues, funded community change projects, and virtual learning sessions to develop their mindsets and equip them to be the change agents the country needs.

The Youth Leadership Development Programme will help young people become contributing members of society and empower young people to actively engage in addressing issues of national concern while fostering peer-to-peer learning and community building. 

Success Stories

The Nigerian Youth Futures Fund (NYFF) Group
The Nigerian Youth Futures Fund (NYFF) Debating for Change

Debating for Change: From Novice to Advocacy Champion!

In his interview, Igbinosa Samuel Etinosa, a participant in the advocacy track, expressed how the debate proved to be a transformative experience for him. It’s important to note that he did not possess any official prior debate experience. He conveyed that the programme equipped him with the necessary skills and knowledge, empowering him to engage actively as a responsible citizen within his community. ​

For this debater, the journey was a dynamic blend of personal interests and challenges, contributing to his overall growth and preparedness for civic participation.
Highlights of his experience included successfully qualifying for the debate, advancing to the quarter-finals, and the opportunity to travel for the competition. He also highlighted the chance to network and connect with like-minded individuals passionate about driving positive social change.

The coaching sessions and the accelerator courses were a significant highlight of the programme for him. He found these sessions instrumental and beneficial in enhancing his debate performance.

Samuel’s experience was marked by personal growth, skill development, and the excitement of participating in a challenging debate that inspired the debater to excel. Furthermore, he shared that he intends to carry on with his new advocacy skills within his community and feels confident in bringing social change.

The Nigerian Youth Futures Fund (NYFF) SpongeBob and Pals

SpongeBob and Pals: Saving Ilorin from Plastic Pollution​

Ifeoluwa Dada, leading the Eco Champions team at the University of Ilorin, successfully executed their project to combat plastic pollution on campus. Their innovative approach involved installing two character-themed recycling bins strategically positioned to encourage students to dispose of plastic bottles responsibly, ultimately mitigating plastic pollution in nearby water bodies and pathways within the campus.​

Notable figures, including the Dean of Student Affairs, the Director of Works, and the Student Union President of the institution, attended the inauguration of these Character Bins.
The project team described their experience on this project as positive, engaging, and full of challenges. They expressed their gratitude to LEAP Africa for initiating such a programme for young individuals, as it shed light on various community issues and inspired them to drive positive change to address these challenges. Their project benefitted a substantial number of students, reaching up to 5,000 individuals within the university.

Regarding sustainability, a direct plan was established in collaboration with school authorities to ensure the periodic maintenance of the recycling bins.

How we achieve the YLDP Goals

The Programme achieves this goal by offering 2 separate tracks for young people: Sustainability and Advocacy

Click on the relevant tab below to read more details

Sustainability: Hearts and Hands for Change

Participants in the sustainability pathway consist of teams of 5-10 people from the same tertiary institution who will carry out community change projects focused on the NYFF’s current thematic areas. In this track, participants are equipped with knowledge to engage community actors, raise funds and carry out projects that bring about sustainable change in their communities. 

Teams that sign up for the Sustainability Track are eligible for up to ₦350,000 in grants to carry out their chosen change projects. 

Advocacy - The Youth Leadership Debates

Raising Voices for Change

The Youth Leadership Debate Competition is about giving confidence to the voices of the youth, leveraging their voices as an effective tool to bring about a transformed Nigeria.

The Youth Leadership Debate Competition aims to provide capacity building to select young people across tertiary institutions and support them to critically evaluate information, advocate from a point of knowledge, and collectively shape their vision for Nigeria, hence equipping them to be active citizens.

The competition is open to teams of 3 students each from tertiary institutions across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria. The inter-varsity competition features online campaigns and campus tours publicised by the theme – #TheNigeriaWeWant.

Competing teams stand a chance to win up to N2,500,000 and other prizes.

Competition Prizes

FIRST PRIZE – ₦2,500,000

SECOND PRIZE – ₦2,000,000

THIRD PRIZE – ₦1,500,000

The Nigerian Youth Futures Fund (NYFF) Group

Impact Numbers

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Geo-political Zones in Nigeria

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Tertiary Institutions

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Participants Enrolled

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Persons Living with Disabilities

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Indirect beneficiaries through change projects

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Teams supported to carry out change projects

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Modules on Leadership, Active Citizenship & Sustainable Development

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Teams on the Advocacy Track trained

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Mentors and coaches engaged

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Debate Finales in Collaboration with The Platform Nigeria

YLDP in Videos

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YLDP in Pictures

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Our Partners

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Qualification Rounds and Prices

  1. Participants must be between 18-35 years of age
  2. Participants must be undergraduate students at any tertiary institution in Nigeria
  3. Participants must be available to participate in the programme for the 5-month period
  4. Participants must commit to at least 85% total participation in the programme
  5. Participants must have a working mobile phone/personal computer and access to stable internet at all times during the programme
  6. Participants must show proof of studentship at the claimed tertiary institution (course form for the current session/ID Card)
  7. Participants must be open to travel at any stage of the programme (careful considerations are made so that participants do not miss out significantly from academic activities)
  8. All participants admitted into the programme after completing the applications must undergo the 10 compulsory virtual courses before proceeding to the track divisions of their choice.
  9. Applicants are advised to apply in teams according to the requirements of their intended tracks. While the track choices might change after the first segment of the programme, this ensures that participants do not overly struggle to find teammates for their chosen track.

At the completion of the first segment of the programme, participants will be allowed to submit applications for the track of their choice

  1. A team of 5-10 students shall submit a proposal highlighting a problem in their community that they wish to solve. Their proposed solution for the identified project must be in line with one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals. This proposal guarantees team members a spot on the sustainability track of the programme.
  2. Participants will then undergo 3 additional courses and live sessions to prepare them for change project execution further.
  3. At the end of the live sessions, participants are expected to update or renew their change project proposal.
  4. The proposal should identify potential stakeholders (enablers, beneficiaries and funding sources) and locations for the change project.
  5. Participating teams stand a chance to pitch for and win from any of the different grant categories to augment funding for their projects. See grant categories below:
    • Large subgrant – 350,000
      Technology, Innovation & Entrepreneurship:
      The projects under this area will foster policy incentives relating to tech & entrepreneurship in addition to embarking on technology missions, networking and mentoring.
    • Medium Subgrant – 200,000
      Human capital development:
      The projects in the medium subgrant category aim to provide immediate solutions to community issues. Projects can include revamping education, health & social services, STEM, community engagement, curriculum adaptation, etc.
      Sustainable development and infrastructure:
      Projects under this category can focus on developing the proficiency of the community workforce, revamping infrastructure, school systems, etc.
    • Small Subgrant – 100,000
      Facilitating good governance
      Projects can include leadership trainings in secondary schools, policy education sensitization to school students and community inhabitants, & resource management
      Resolving fundamental national questions
      Projects that promote structures implementation, values, patriotism, peace & equity.
  6. Other teams who are unable to access this grant must seek alternative funding sources as all registered teams MUST carry out their proposed project in order to complete the programme formally. 
  1. A team of 3 students from the same tertiary institution apply by sending in a video of not more than 5 minutes with 2 debaters addressing any socioeconomic issue from the 5 focus areas
  2. Debate entries should focus on the following areas:
    • Technology, innovation & entrepreneurship.
    • Human capital development
    • Sustainable development and infrastructure
    • Facilitating good governance
    • Resolving fundamental national questions
  3. Video should be uploaded on any social media platform, and the link to the video should be provided on the application form.
  4. Evidence, such as course forms, of each team member enrolled in the institution would be required.


Only entries from teams will be considered; each team must have 3 to 4 students who are currently full or part-time undergraduates students from the same university with evidence of current enrollment in form of school ID card or course registration form. Applicants are encouraged to select their own team members by themselves.

Just ONE entry is expected from a team. Video entries must be collated and merged into one video entry which is then submitted via the specified channel.

The names of team members must be listed on the registration form. Any changes to team members must be in writing and approved by the NYFF/LEAP Africa team

A debate is a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting in which opposing arguments are put forward. The Youth Leadership Debates Competition shall adopt the Karl Popper debate style. All video entries must adopt this style.  

In the first phase of the debate, you are allowed to address any socio economic issue of your choice from the focus areas of the NYFF. However, in subsequent phases, you will be assigned a debate topic. 

Application for and participation in the competition, including enrollment on the Leadership Accelerator Course, are completely free. However, you are responsible for the purchase of internet data to participate in the programme. 

While this competition is designed for undergraduate students of Nigerian tertiary institutions, applicants are allowed to have AT MOST 1 graduate team member with NOT MORE THAN 2 years post-graduation experience. 

This graduate member CANNOT serve as the leader of the team. He/she is encouraged to only serve as a research assistant for the team.

For the video entries, applicants are encouraged to debate on whichever side they are persuaded, whether for or against. 

Subsequently, participants shall be assigned sides to debate through a ballot system.

Applicants are encouraged to appear in business casual outfits in the entry video. 

The deadline for submissions is xxx 

It is advised that applicants showcase the strength of their team by having ONLY 2 team members speak for the duration of the video. The graduate research assistant may not speak in the entry video. However, all team members must be named during the submission process.

The entry video must not exceed 5 minutes. 

So, are you deeply passionate about social change?
Do you want to lend your voice as a tool to bring about lasting change?
Do you have a team from your campus as passionate as you are and willing to lend their voices as well?

Apply NOW! Let your voice be heard!

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