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City Year recognizes that there is a direct connection between our efforts to help you learn and grow as a leader and your own ability to provide high-impact, transformational service to students. For this reason, City Year has developed a comprehensive and sophisticated approach to leadership development designed to ensure your success at City Year, and in whatever field you choose to go into after your year of service. Our leadership development model is called the Flame of Idealism, and it includes these four integrated elements.


City Year Idealist Journey DO: Service

The outermost level of the Flame of Idealism represents the experience of delivering full-time service in high-needs schools. Through delivering this service, you have the opportunity to powerfully address the nation’s high school dropout crisis. For more information about our approach to service, visit the What We Do page of our website.


KNOW: Learning and Development

City Year recognizes that what you DO in your service is influenced bythis more internal level of development, what you KNOW. We have a comprehensive approach to learning and development designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills that you need to succeed at City Year and in any career that you choose to pursue after graduation. To learn more about our approach to training, click here. To learn more about the six powerful civic competencies you will develop through your City Year experience, click here.


BE: Reflection

City Year recognizes that everything you DO, and all that you KNOW, is influenced by WHO YOU ARE. We develop you at this innermost level of the Flame of Idealism through a sophisticated reflection curriculum called The Idealist’s Journey (also known as the “IJ”). 



Culture and Values 

City Year has developed a unique culture, which is grounded in our ten core values. Our culture has been intentionally designed to sustain your idealism, build community, and ensure excellence in service delivery. Immersion in City Year’s culture of idealism is another powerful element of your development as a leader; to learn more about our culture, click hereOur core values represent the deepest beliefs and highest aspirations of our organization. To learn more about our values, click here.

City Year Idealist Journey

City Year was founded on the belief that a year of service transforms BOTH the community being served AND the individual providing that service. This founding belief is the inspiration behind our leadership development curriculum, The Idealist’s Journey. City Year recognizes that the development of new skills and knowledge is crucial, but there are also some deeper questions that you must explore in your journey of leadership development. The Idealist’s Journey is our approach to developing you at this innermost BE level of the Flame of Idealism, and it includes the following two types of reflection:


1) Personal Reflection

What is your own personal leadership mission? What are your own core values? How do you handle conflict? What are you grateful for? What are the uniquely personal lessons that you should take from your service experiences? Your answers to these questions are incredibly important to your own development as a leader. Equally important, this deepening of your own self-knowledge empowers you to become a more effective mentor, guide, and role model to the students that you serve. 


2) Practice Reflection

As you confront the remarkable complexity of your daily service experiences, what personally meaningful questions should get your attention? The Idealist’s Journey will develop your skills at finding the right questions to ask about your service, and will provide you with opportunities to explore those questions with peers to ensure that you access the many invaluable leadership lessons embedded in your daily service. By providing you with regular opportunities to step away from delivering service in order to think deeply about your leadership challenges, the Idealist’s Journey strengthens your service impact while deepening your own development as a leader.

Through these two types of reflection, the Idealist’s Journey develops your self-knowledge and empowers you to more effectively understand and address complex challenges. It’s another element of our comprehensive approach to leadership development designed to ensure your success at City Year and in any field you choose to pursue after graduation.