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The Ed Smith

Leadership Circle 

For more than twenty years, YLF mentors have supported parents as the primary educator while providing quality character education for youth in our nation's capital. 


The Ed Smith Leadership Circle consists of individuals in the Washington Metropolitan area who are invested in the practice of daily virtue and family life for the development of personal character.

Members of the  Ed Smith Leadership Circle, support the legacy of Professor Ed Smith in YLF programs, who championed the importance of the humanities and oratory in the development of personal character. We welcome you to learn more about Professor Smith and the Circle. 

Schedule a visit to YLF Programs or join YLF families each summer at the Ed Smith Summer showcase. 


The Legacy of

Professor Ed Smith 

Ed Smith Legacy

Photo Credit:  Jeff Watts,  American University

In 1952, a blind mother with a vision of her child's future visited Arlington National Cemetery to hear President Dwight Eisenhower present the Medal of Honor at the internment of the Unknown Soldiers of WWII. What transpired was the birth of a sense of duty and sacrifice for country and appreciation for history in her son.


It was then that a young Ed Smith vowed to read a book a week for the rest of his life. In 1960, that child had kept his promise, graduating near the top of the first-ever desegregated class from Western High School (now Duke Ellington High School). Lacking resources to attend college, a young Edward Smith began working in the mail room of the White House for President Johnson during the War on Poverty. His talent for writing became evident at this time and paved the way for his success as: the first African-American tenured Professor of American University; the founder of that university's Civil War Institute; a speech writer for President Carter; and a founder of the Heights School in Potomac, MD. In 1997, in collaboration with two Catholic Study Centers, he founded the Youth Leadership Foundation. Since 1997, the organization has supported character development in the character of more than 4,000 students. YLF hosts after school mentoring, summer enrichment and high school leadership programs. In his ability to channel in our history to teach us about ourselves, Edward C. Smith achieves the aim of the consummate educator: to instruct the human soul.


Ed Smith Leadership Circle Membership

Become A Member

A Pledge In Support of Our Vision

As a member of the Ed Smith Leadership Circle you join a society of membership that is deeply invested in the pursuit of family life and the practice of daily virtue in the spirit of YLF's co-founder, Prof. Ed Smith throughout our nation's capital. Members commit through multi-year and/or monthly sustaining pledges to our mission and vision. Members become ambassadors for our programs by hosting thank you receptions and invitational dinners at their homes and clubs.

As Our Thank You

Members are cordially invited to attend exclusive events including the annual Ed Smith Summer Showcase and dinners hosted by other Circle Members. Each event is an opportunity to meet YLF's inspiring students and witness their poise and talent. New Members receive The Collected Works of Ed Smith and Membership pin.

Kindly consider joining the Ed Smith Leadership Circle to support the practice of daily virtue and personal development through mentorship among the youth in our Nation's capital.

Legacy Membership secures mentoring at a school partner for a full year ($50,000) 

As our thank you, Members receive:

  • Benefits of Platinum Membership, plus

  • An honorary naming opportunity of the sponsored mentoring program 

  • Invitations to provide forward commentary to The Collected Works

Platinum Membership secures mentoring for a school program (PALS or TAP) for a full year ($25,000) 

As our thank you, Members receive:

  • Benefits of Gold Membership, plus

  • Invitations to special readings and discussion of the works of Professor Smith by YLF high school students

Gold Membership sponsors eight students for a full year ($10,000)

As our thank you, Members receive:

  • Tickets to the annual Appreciation Breakfast

  • Invitation to an intimate gathering of other Circle members with an interesting guest

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