YALLI: Young Adult Life & Leadership Initiative – Online

April 30, 2020 - November 14, 2021

Young Adult Life & Leadership Initiative has moved online and is still taking applications!


“It was so helpful to go deeper, to be quiet, to be able to hear what I’m being called to do… and to share this experience with others.”
—A Participant

Apply now!


A program to nurture the spiritual life and strengthen the contemplative foundation of leadership for young adults

YALLI: Young Adult Life and Leadership Initiative is for young adults (approximately ages 25-40) who seek a deeper spiritual foundation for their lives and work and who welcome the support of a like-minded community. This program is grounded in the Christian contemplative tradition yet it draws on the wisdom of many religious traditions to offer support for everyday living. In the midst of the challenges of the 21st century, this program provides concrete help in the struggle to live authentically with compassion, strength and vision.

Who Should Apply?
YALLI: Young Adult Life and Leadership Initiative is designed for those who are:

    • Approximately between the ages of 25-40;
    • Desiring to deepen the spiritual foundation of their personal and professional life;
    • Seeking a mutually supportive spiritual community with other young adults;
    • Drawn to exploring the contemplative tradition, including prayer and meditation practices;
    • Willing to learn within a broad ecumenical Christian framework that also welcomes the wisdom and practice of other faith traditions;
    • At a point in life that is not full of overwhelming crisis, emotionally or vocationally.

Timeline & Components

Extended Deadline
A few spaces are available so applications will be accepted until cohort is filled.

Program Dates
The program begins with the First Residency. A reading list to begin at-home preparation will be provided in January 2020

First Residency: April 30-May 2, 2020
We have adjusted the YALLI program in ways that reflect the CDC recommendations for social distancing and sheltering at home. We will be holding the opening retreat via a Zoom conference at 6-9 pm Thursday, April 30th, 2020; 9 am – 5 pm Friday, May 1st; and 10 am-4 pm Saturday, May 2nd. Our time Saturday will be a Silent Day, which we will open and close together. During our Zoom times together, we will offer teachings, time on your own for reflection/practice in whatever setting you find yourself (silence or household chaos), and the opportunity to share with each other what comes forth out of that time. We will also form our small groups for deep listening. Each group will be facilitated by one of our staff during our online opening residency, and these peer groups will continue to meet in person or via Zoom throughout the duration of the program. We will also provide a mentor for each participant (for a monthly virtual phone or computer conversation).

Second Residency: March 18-21, 2021
Bellfry Retreat Home near Lexington, VA

Final Retreat: November 12 – 14, 2021
Bellfry Retreat Home near Lexington, VA

At-Home Completion: September 30, 2021
Final integration paper due

Program Components
At-Home work includes:

    • A personal spiritual practice, including a daily discipline of prayer/ meditation/ presence for God;
    • At least one personal 24-hour, silent retreat per year as the start of a lifelong habit;
    • Participation in Shalem’s online education programs;
    • Monthly reflections about your spiritual life and leadership with your staff mentor, who will be a resource for you throughout the program;
    • Peer reflection sessions with other participants that meet in person or by Zoom conferencing every four to six weeks for mutual support, accountability and encouragement; Shalem will provide guidelines for reflection. The first session will be guided by the staff mentor; other sessions are scheduled by participants.
    • Selected required readings, plus many optional readings, on spiritual life, leadership, environmental concerns and peace-making initiatives; a bibliography will be provided;
    • Brief reflection papers on the readings;
    • An opportunity to design and carry out an independent project, supervised by a Shalem mentor; and
    • A final reflection paper based on your experience in the program.

Program Residential Retreats:

We will have two three-day residential retreats at The Bellfry Retreat Home near Lexington, VA.

All rooms are singles; linens are provided. These retreats are formative in building spiritual community and deepening spiritual practices. They also will include seminars on discernment, contemplative leadership and a silent retreat.

A Certificate of Completion is awarded at the end of the program to all participants who have met the program requirements.