LEADERSHIP BY DESIGN Entering Grade 10 in September 2024?Application re-opens late June

Accepting applications for our Guest Student Program
Guest students may be invited to LBD and SummerUP events, space permitting.

In fall 2016 the Lifelong Leadership Institute (LLI) launched the Leadership by Design (LBD) program which provides innovative leadership development opportunities to GTA youth of Black and Black African-Canadian descent.

While all students have varying capacity for leadership and will perform leadership roles within their families, social circles, schools and wider community, the LBD program is about amplifying leadership skills. LBD seeks to inspire and equip students to pursue future leadership opportunities whereby they become decisions makers who are well positioned to shape the future of their communities, workplaces and country – we refer to this as seat-at-the-table leadership. We focus on leadership development because leadership skills not only enable good, effective and responsible leadership in all spheres, they also contribute to personal, social and career success. As well, the soft skills which contribute to effective leadership are the very same skills that foster entrepreneurship and good citizenship.

What are these leadership skills? They are mostly the soft skills that start with the mindset of ‘getting things done’ and include decision making, effective communication, self-awareness, self-confidence, reliability, resilience, teamwork, persuasion, networking, time management, empathy, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, civic responsibility and intellectual curiosity. We want LBD students to acquire the skills of an authentic leader who is able to influence and inspire others to accomplish defined objectives and to model exemplary leadership through the practise of these skills.

Supporting the LBD’s primary thrust of the acquisition and practise of leadership skills is ‘career exploration’. The LBD program provides opportunities for career exploration and, given the challenges and complexities of today’s workplace, students are encouraged to pursue post-secondary pathways.

The Leadership by Design program is a multi-year program that supports the success of academically promising Black youth and does so in partnership with parents.

The Leadership by Design (LBD) program is based on ten pillars of programming and these are constantly reviewed. Together, these ten pillars provide LBD students with opportunities for leadership development, career exploration, responsible citizenship and encouragement to serve their schools and community. What follows is a brief synopsis of each of the ten pillars of LBD programming.


The Leadership by Design program normally schedules around 12 Saturday sessions each academic year and attendance for each is around 200 persons (students, parents and volunteers). Some sessions are held in-person and these normally start at 9.00 a.m. and end early afternoon. In-person sessions are sited at universities (e.g. University of Toronto, Toronto Metropolitan University, York University) and Toronto-based corporate sites. Meeting at university sites normalizes the university experience for students. Some Saturday sessions are offered online and these normally span two hours starting at 11.00 a.m. Programming for Saturday sessions targets leadership themes with focus on intellectual curiosity, career exploration and skill-building workshops. Programming also targets collective learning, forging relationships (student-to-student and parent-to-parent), community building and infusing students, parents and volunteers with a deep sense of belonging.


PILLAR #2: THE MENTORSHIP ECOSYSTEM The mentorship program that is delivered by the Leadership by Design program has evolved with the learning we gained from general practice and field experience. Rather than a one-dimensional mentorship program, we now provide a mentorship ecosystem which surrounds the mentee with variants of mentorship experiences. Most experiences provided by the LBD program involve some mentoring – both formal and informal.


The nature of the Leadership by Design program allows it to target multiple strategic outcomes, one of which is career exploration. Our work is shaped by the definition of career exploration as the “process in which an individual chooses an educational path or training or a job which fits their interests, skills and abilities”. Each year, the LBD program does more in terms of career exploration and we partner with universities and corporations in doing so. We present Black professionals to talk about their career trajectories. As well, we run workshops on OSAP, funding post-secondary studies and scholarship application. In academic year 2021-22, 24 LBD students who were enrolled in post-secondary studies were granted scholarships that were donated by generous donors. Each of the twenty-four scholarships was valued at $5,000. LBD students are encouraged to explore career options as well as the various post-secondary programs and institutions that provide pathways for career fulfilment.


Encouraging young students to build their leadership capacity invariable involves distilling leadership into a set of important soft-skills and having students (i) learn these skills, and (ii) continually practise them. As previously noted, these soft skills include, but are not limited to the following: effective communication, goal setting, self-awareness, self-confidence, reliability, resilience, collaboration, persuasion, networking, time management, empathy, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, civic responsibility and intellectual curiosity.


The civic engagement pillar of the LBD’s program focuses on rights and responsibilities, fulfilling specific civic responsibilities such as being well informed, and on exercising the right to vote. It also seeks to augment the civics instruction offered in high school by encouraging a deeper exploration regarding what it means to be a Canadian and a Black Canadian. It also dwells on the importance of democracy and notions of the ‘greater or public good’.


Most LBD students seek out and deliver service to their community. The need to accumulate specific hours of community service in order to graduate from high school is well understood. Most LBD students will acquire these hours and then exceed them. The LBD supports students’ search for effective community service. This includes providing information regarding volunteer opportunities.


Simply put, we regard social capital as ‘networking’. Networking is a major leadership soft skill and it is also a major workplace skill. It is very difficult to advance in the workplace without competence in networking. Teaching this particular skill requires that we convince LBD students of its importance in much of what they do in life and in career. It also requires that we provide them with networking exemplars who can ‘show the way’. The more opportunities LBD student have to attend a variety of social settings where they can see networking being practised, the better their social and networking skills will be.


A critical attribute of good, effective and responsible leaderships is curiosity. Curiosity is nicely described as the ‘starting point of interest”. We encourage our students to be intellectually curious. In our effort to ‘cultivate the curious mind’ we encourage and facilitate student attendance of events such as conferences, symposia and workshops. As well, the Leadership by Design program hosts interesting guest speakers and regularly interrogates important issues. Encouraging student pursuit of deeper knowledge is ongoing.


Mindful that our partners have capacity to offer important programming to our students, we partner with universities (University of Toronto, York University, Toronto Metropolitan University), corporations (Cisco Canada, Google, CIBC, RBC, PepsiCo Canada, Dentsu, Wave), cultural organizations (Tarragon Theatre, Soulpepper Theatre Company, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Ballet of Canada); democracy-promoting organizations (The Samara Centre for Democracy); leadership-supporting organizations (International Leadership Association).

Here is an example of an innovative partnership that benefits LBD students:

-The Study Buddy program that delivers 1:1 tutoring/mentoring services to LBD students during the academic year. This program is coordinated by the Diversity Institute, Ryerson University. The subject tutors are teacher candidates from the faculties of education from Laurentian University, Ontario Tech University and Queen’s University.


Our Leadership by Design program includes parents as full participants. Parents accompany their students at Saturday LBD sessions and the LBD schedules a special ‘parents track’ which explores topics of value. Parents are partners who collaborate in encouraging LBD student engagement and participation.


During academic year 2023-24 the LBD program will offer students the following opportunities. Students may opt to pursue one or more of the following innovative learning opportunities.

  1. GOAL SETTING WORKSHOP: Goal setting is an important leadership skill. It is also a skill that will serve LBD students as they identify the goals they wish to pursue while navigating a busy high-school program/year.
  2. PURSUE STEM: The Faculty of Arts & Science, University of Toronto, will offer eligible LBD students a special course dedicated to exploring STEM-based subjects and careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
  3. TELESCOPES AND ASTRONOMY: LBD students with an interest in astronomy and science will have the chance to explore these themes in a series of workshops that are developed in association with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and CSA (the Canadian Space Agency).
  4. PURSUE CODING: Interested LBD students will be provided courses in coding (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python). These courses augment the preparation of students planning careers which rely on coding knowhow.
  5. PURSUE ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Any student interested in learning how to start a business enterprise will have with an opportunity to do so. Essentially, this course provides a starter kit for developing the entrepreneurial mindset. This course is offered in partnership with Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).
  6. FRENCH LANGUAGE ENRICHMENT: In partnership with York University’s Glendon College, the Leadership by Design (LBD) program will provide opportunities for French language enrichment.
  7. PURSUE BUSINESS (MARKETING): LBD students who are interested in exploring career opportunities in the world of business…including marketing and digital advertising… will have an opportunity to do so. Our partner for this course is Dentsu Canada, one of the world’s largest conglomerates in marketing and advertising.
The LBD program encourages students to apply for the wide range of scholarships and bursaries that are available to all students pursuing post-secondary studies. Scholarships require application, and LBD students must learn how to construct a strong case for scholarship awards. In addition, LBD students may apply for scholarships that are provided by generous donors specifically to qualified LBD students.

You may apply if you voluntarily self identify as Black or Black African-Canadian and are academically promising. Apply if the meet the following criteria:

  1. You voluntarily self-identify as Black or Black African-Canadian.
  2. You are enrolled in Grade 10 during the academic year 2023-24 (i.e. the academic year which begins this September).
  3. You are academically capable and are keen to learn.
  4. You are willing to attend Toronto-based in-person Saturday sessions. (While this requirement favours students who reside in the Greater Toronto Region, we will consider keen candidates residing beyond the GTR.)
  5. You are a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada.

The window for applying extends well into September 2023. This gives high school administrators and teachers a window during September to encourage their eligible Grade 10 students to apply. At the same time, we invite early applications…starting now. Applications will be considered on an on-going basis. The earlier students apply, the earlier they are evaluated and the earlier they are provided an admissions decision.

The application deadline is Wednesday, September 20, 2023 (11.59 p.m.). This deadline provides a window for high school administrators and teachers to encourage newly enrolled fall 2023 Grade 10 students to apply for the LBD program.

At this time, however, we encourage the submission of applications by students who have just completed Grade 9 and who will start Grade 10 in September. We will review applications throughout summer 2023.

Rolling Admissions (throughout the summer)

Once final grades for your Grade 9 courses are available, you should apply. Do not delay applying since we will make admission decisions as applications are received (rolling admission) throughout summer 2023. The sooner you apply, the better.

Final Application Deadline: Wednesday, September 20, 2023 (11.59 p.m.)

This deadline allows high school administrators and teachers to recommend applications from Grade 10 candidates who are unaware of the LBD program.

Successful applicants will be notified via email and will be required to attend a mandatory orientation session in early October. Students and parents will receive the email communication. Ensure that students input the correct email addresses.

Step 1: Before applying, carefully read the program information (see website) plus this application guide.

Step 2: Discuss with your parents or legal guardians your intent to apply for the Leadership by Design (LBD) program. They must be fully aware and supportive of your application.

Step 3: Complete and submit (online) your LBD Application. Ensure the data you provide is accurate and complete.

We empower students to take ownership of their learning. As such, students (not parents) should complete the application with the support of a parent, guardian, or other adult advisor. Where indicated, input the student’s phone number and email address. Parent information will be collected separately. Email communication is sent to both student and parent(s).

While we recognize the Leadership by Design program is not right for everyone, we will make every effort to admit qualified candidates. There are two measures for determining your eligibility for the Leadership by Design program.

1: Evaluation of data provided in your application form. We will consider the grades your achieved for your four Grade 9 courses (English, mathematics, science and geography) plus other information that points to a good match between you and the LBD program.

2: Candidates deemed eligible for admission after the evaluation described above will be invited (accompanied by a parent or legal guardian) to an LBD orientation session. This orientation will ensure both students and parents acquire a deep understanding of the LBD program and are well positioned to commit to the program.
At this event, parents of admitted students will be required to sign a ‘parental consent form’.

Admitted candidates will be notified by email.

Q1. Does it matter which high school I attend?

A1. No. You may apply if you are a student of any public, Catholic, French or independent high school. You may also apply if you are homeschooled.

Q2. If I apply, how will you communicate with me?

A2. All communications are via email and all communications with you are copied to your parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Hence, you must provide your personal email address and that of your parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Ensure the email address of your parents/guardians is accurate. As well, you must regularly monitor your email.

Q3. The application form invites applicants to indicate interest in special learning opportunities. Please clarify this.

A3. The LBD program will admit students with interests and strengths in any subject area: arts, English, social sciences, languages, mathematics, sciences and information technology. The LBD program will provide support to students wanting to explore careers in these and other fields.

To facilitate learning and career discovery, students are encouraged to pursue special learning opportunities. If admitted into LBD, students will have a chance to formally enroll in one or more of these opportunities. These opportunities, some not listed in the application form, include:

– Pursue STEM
– Telescopes & Astronomy
– Pursue CODING
– Pursue BUSINESS (Marketing)
– Goal Setting Workshop

Q4. What is the role of parents?

A4. Parents are critical partners in the Leadership by Design program.

– The parent for each admitted student is required to sign a ‘consent form’ as part of the admissions process.
– In many of our in-person and virtual LBD sessions, parents are invited to participate.
– The Leadership by Design program is well known for its high degree of supportive parental participation.

Q5. Why is a parent or guardian required to sign a Parental Consent Form as part of the admissions process?

A5. Parents/guardians partner with the LBD program in working towards the personal, social, academic and career success of students. Participating students who are under age 18 are deemed Vulnerable Persons by law and both the LBD and parents share a duty to ensure the well-being of students is protected. Part of this involves up-front communication and understandings. The parental-consent language supports this as well as the effective administration of the LBD program.

Q6. If admitted, do I have to re-apply for each subsequent year?

A6. No. Once you are admitted and commit to the LBD program you are provided services and support for the remainder of your high-school years and into your post-secondary studies. This is a multi-year multi-level program which requires your full commitment. Our intent is to support you all the way.

Q7. When will LBD student meetings be scheduled?

A7. Most plenary meetings of LBD students will be scheduled on Saturdays (an average of one per month). There will be other meetings involving smaller groups and these will be scheduled to meet the convenience of most participating students. Chances are some special sessions, such as Pursue STEM, Pursue CODING and Pursue ENTREPRENEURSHIP may schedule a few days during school March Break. The schedule for the LBD’s academic year 2023-24 will be shared at the LBD applicant- orientation sessions.

Q8. What is the cost of the Leadership by Design program?

A8. There is no charge. The program is free.

Q9. I plan to have my child apply for the 2022 LBD program. Should my child not gain admission does the Lifelong Leadership Institute provide some level of service?

A9: Yes. If your child is not admitted into the Leadership by Design program your child may still receive service from the program. This service includes invitation to selected Saturday webinars and conferences, and also invitation to join the SummerUp Program normally offered in the months of July and August. Encourage your child to apply for LBD admission.

Q10. I’m in Grade 11 this academic year. May I apply?

A10. No. Only students who are in Grade 10 in the 2023-24 academic year will be admitted.

Q11. I’m in Grade 9 this academic year. May I apply?

A11. No. Only students who are in Grade 10 in the 2023-24 academic year will be admitted. Please apply for the LBD program when entering Grade 10.

Q12. When is the best time to apply?

A12. Apply as quickly as possible and this will result in early consideration of your candidacy. If you can, avoid waiting until the approaching deadline. It’s best to apply early.

Q13. I have additional questions. Who should I ask?

A13. Questions may be directed to admissions@llileaders.com