APRIL Logo with the words, "The United Voice  of Independent Living in Rural America."

APRIL “Lead On” Collaborative


The APRIL "Lead On” Collaborative is a step two leadership program from APRIL in which 20 youth and young adults with disabilities get to build their skills, connect with their community, and work to become current and future leaders.  

Participants will meet weekly on Zoom for six weeks to learn from experts (and each other) in areas they identified important to their growth during the application process. Some of these areas may include (but are not limited to) career development, boundary setting, conflict resolution, and more. During this time, participants will “journal” about their experiences and what they are learning. This journaling can happen in whatever form works best for the participant (writing, drawing, video, audio recording, songwriting, etc.).   

At the end of their six weeks, all participants will attend and volunteer at the APRIL Conference in Chicago, IL from October 11-13, 2024. While at the conference, program participants will meet and discuss their experiences with the group, including sharing something from their journaling process. Participants will then be invited to join a social group (Discord, Instagram, etc.) to continue connecting with their fellow participants going forward.

Read what past participants have to say about their experiences with "Lead On:"

  • "I refined my future career goals in this program. I gained a lot of new resources that I plan to add to my career tool belt. I learned a lot about methods of communication in this collaborative and I saw my interpersonal skills grow."

  • "I feel like I have grown as a leader more by being able to make connections to others that have given me different views of the disability world."

  • "Desde que estuve en el programa entendí que puedo ser capaz de hacer muchas cosas para la comunidad y que debemos compartir nuestras experiencias para que todos nos podamos entender y ayudarnos. También podremos servir de inspiración para las futuras generaciones. " (Since I was in the program I understood that I can be able to do many things for the community and that we must share our experiences so that we can all understand and help each other. We can also serve as an inspiration for future generations.) 

APRIL “Lead On” Collaborative Timeline: 

  • Application Period: May 15, 2023 – June 16, 2023

  • Acceptance Letters Sent By: July 15, 2023

  • Zoom Meetings: 

    • Zoom calls will take place on Thursday nights from August 24 - October 5, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET/6:00 PM CT/5:00 PM MT/ 4:00 PM PT.

  • APRIL Conference: October 11-13, 2024

Participant Expectations: 

  • Participants must:

    • Be between the ages of 15-30 

    • Have a disability 

    • Actively participate in all six two-hour-long Zoom leadership classes 

    • Attend and volunteer at the APRIL Conference in October 2024



What are the goals of the program? 

The primary goal of the APRIL "Lead On” Collaborative is to provide youth and young adults with disabilities with a “next step” opportunity to build on the leadership skills they have learned through previous experiences such as the APRIL Youth Conference, Youth Leadership Forums, and other similar programs. The program also seeks to make personal and professional peer connections between its participants, building a network of Disabled youth and young adults across the United States. 


Who are the ideal participants in this program? 

While the APRIL "Lead On” Collaborative is open to people with disabilities ages 15-30, the ideal participants are those who have previous leadership and/or leadership training experience and are looking to expand on those skills.  Therefore, we encourage members of the Disability community aged 18-30 to apply. 


Is there a cost to participate? 

 The APRIL "Lead On" Collaborative is free of charge to all participants, including their attendance at the APRIL Conference from October 11-13, 2024. 


What do you mean “journal?” 

The journaling process is intended to help participants take what they learn and apply it to their daily lives and futures. Participants are encouraged to find a journaling process that works for them and allows them to best connect the material to their own experiences. For example, participants may choose to write poetry or songs, create visual art, or write journal entries in a more traditional format. Participants will be asked to share part of their journaling process with the rest of the group while in person at the APRIL Conference.

What is the APRIL Conference? 

The APRIL Conference is an annual National Conference on Rural Independent Living for people with disabilities and their allies, Centers for Independent Living, Statewide Independent Living Councils, and other organizations and individuals who share rural independent living concerns. Our conference is on the forefront of providing transportation advocacy, peer to peer mentoring opportunities, staff training opportunities, highlighting best practices, youth mentoring, and much more!