Junior Leadership Durham (JLD) is an intensive program designed for high school sophomores to gain an in-depth exposure to the Durham community. During the course of the eight month program, students engage with transformational community leaders in order to assist them in the continued development of their leadership skills.

The students actively engage with business, community, and government leaders to gain a broader knowledge and awareness of the City of Durham. JLD students are continually challenged to explore ways in which they can contribute to the Durham Community.

The entire JLD program is offered at no cost to participants thanks to the support from corporate and community benefactors who recognize the importance of developing young leaders in the community.

During the course of the program, students will participate in 7 sessions:

Orientation Session

Students participate in a low ropes course and/or scavenger hunt, learn about different leadership styles, and learn how to problem solve as a team.  At this session, participants begin developing friendships across Durham with students from different high schools and from different socioeconomic, ethnic and ideological backgrounds.

Human Needs/Volunteerism

Students visit a local agency that provides services to citizens who need clothing, food, shelter, or are battling addiction.  Students also hear about nonprofits with volunteer opportunities for youth in the Durham community and complete a hands-on project that helps others.


Students learn about the different law enforcement agencies in Durham, how the court system works, how to interact and communicate with police, and about their legal rights as a young person.


Students shadow a city or county employee and learn the functions of city and county departments by hearing classmates’ reports.  Students also practice parliamentary procedure and observe how to conduct a formal meeting.

Alumni Networking/Careers

Students hear Leadership Durham alumni discuss leadership in the business world and graduates of Junior Leadership Durham discuss their college experiences and careers.  Students then research their potential future career and learn about career exploration tools.


Students explore different careers in the health science fields and discuss environmental concerns and the impact on human health.  Students also tour a healthcare or clinical research facility and observe examples of innovation.


Students create and present a business plan to local entrepreneurs, learn how technology impacts Durham’s economy, and share their creative talents.

Students who participate in the entirety of the program will gain a fundamental understanding of the workings of Durham and the important issues that affect them, their peers, and their families. They will also get the opportunity to explore careers and develop friendships with students around the county who may come from different learning environments, socioeconomic, ethnic, and ideological backgrounds.