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The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA)

is committed to providing its students with:

  • A meaningful summer work experience,
  • Leadership development through seminars and community service.
  • College preparatory activities, including year-long academic support. 

Started in 2007, CAYLA has been nationally recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. In 2011, CAYLA was honored with the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service.

CAYLA is an integral part of the City’s ‘Grow Our Own’ initiative, as envisioned by the Asheville City Council. The City is committed to giving Asheville’s young people the opportunity to stay and work in Asheville and have valuable work experiences that will advance their future careers wherever they go. The program is a partnership with the Asheville City Schools Foundation and is supported in part by Buncombe County.

CAYLA recruits, trains, and places local high school students at meaningful summer jobs with the City and with participating agencies, in addition to providing weekly day-long workshops on financial literacy, leadership, career exploration, and 21st Century job skills. CAYLA engages its students throughout the school year by offering group-based enrichment activities, plus individualized assistance with college applications and scholarship research. The vast majority of CAYLA students will be the first in their families to attend college. CAYLA students must be enrolled in Asheville City Schools or one of the Buncombe County High Schools. To strengthen their connection to the community, CAYLA students learn about civic responsibility through frequent community service projects that they themselves plan and lead. The CAYLA students have become positive role models for their peers and, just as importantly, for the many children with whom they interact, including their younger siblings and neighbors. The CAYLA students have completed more than 4,300 hours of community service with agencies including MANNA FoodBank, IRL at Asheville Middle School, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ABCCM Women and Children’s Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, Brother Wolf, and Eliada Homes, among others.


  • Total scholarship money (merit) awarded to CAYLA 2007-2023 = $2,215,129
  • Total community service hours since 2007: 4,316
  • 100% of CAYLA seniors have been accepted to college

Program Activities

Weekly Workshops – Summer

  • CAYLA students are required to attend mandatory Friday workshops.  Friday workshop topics range from: 

    • Leadership Development
    • Team-Building
    • Financial Literacy
    • College Preparation 
    • Career Exploration. 
  • Students are paid their hourly wage for attendance at the workshops.

Community Service – Academic Year

CAYLA students are involved in numerous community service activities throughout the academic year.

Internships – Summer

CAYLA students are placed at summer internships with City and County departments, local businesses, and nonprofits.

Please Note: CAYLA students are required to work  4 hours per day, Monday- Thursday, for approximately 16 hours per week. (Specific times will depend on each job site) ***Hours can be adjusted to accommodate Friday workshops***


2024 Summer Internship Sites

Private Sector


Black’s Orthodontist Play Talk and Grow Speech Therapy  Slay The Mic
Blue Ridge Power Givens Estate Van Winkle Law Firm
The Plug Chiropractic Asheville Art Museum  RHA Health Services 

Public Sector 

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce ABIPA-Asheville Buncombe Institute for Parity Achievement Buncombe County Family Justice Center
Sistas Caring 4 Sistas  UMOJA Health, Wellness, and Justice Collective  Clerk of Superior Court
Christine Avery Learning Center Delta House MAHEC
RHA Health Services YWCA Mountain BizWorks 
Manna Food Bank  Buncombe County- Equity and Human Rights Office   
Literacy Together    

City of Asheville Departments

Capital Projects City Manager’s Office Planning & Urban Design

Contact Information

Promise Boseman – Workforce Development Coordinator/ CAYLA Programs Director | 828-641-1554