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The Rural Youth Leadership initiative was designed by several key partners involved in youth development to help rural, economically distressed counties build capacity for future community and economic leadership. The grant will be used to develop pilot programs in Bertie and Swain counties that will target youth between the ages of 14 and 28. Objectives of the program are: (1) to increase youth appreciation and involvement in their community’s economic vitality and their desire to remain in the community; (2) to increase youth understanding and involvement in government and community issues; and (3) to create a sustainable model that can be replicated in other communities.