Leadership UA is accepting applications to fill out its 2011-12 class.

Leadership UA is accepting applications to fill out its 2011-12 class.

About to start its 15th year, the program introduces community members to their local government, school district, and other important elements of the Upper Arlington community, said director Mary Ellen Hatch.

Classes start this year on Sept. 15.

"As with any community leadership program, we combine a number of things, including leadership tools and classes, wrapped up in a retreat and evening classes," Hatch said. "The other component is to educate everyone in the class on their community, and what part they can play in it."

Hatch said Leadership UA, a nonprofit organization, offers two courses - one program for adults and a youth program available to high school freshmen.

"The younger class focuses not so much on how the community of Upper Arlington functions, but more on the idea of leadership and service learning in general," she said. "The teens take Saturday trips to places like the Boys and Girls Club, and learn how easy it is as an individual or group to give back to their community, along with things like project planning, the difference between being assertive and aggressive in communicating, and how to give a presentation."

Hatch said that part of that project planning involves the teens running their own fundraisers to benefit various nonprofit groups.

"This year's class did two fundraisers, raising over $2,000 for the Red Cross for tsunami relief, and they did a collection of children's books for Nationwide Children's Hospital, along with coming up with about seven loads of sports equipment for the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus," Hatch said.

The youth leadership program runs January through April.

The adult program consists of evening classes that meet twice a month from September through April. Class members also attend an overnight retreat at Camp Akita in Hocking Hills.

Hatch said Leadership UA also puts on several community events throughout the year in an effort to encourage open community dialogue, such as a Meet the Candidates night, Green Day UA, a leadership panel, and Conversation Arlington. This year's candidates' night has been scheduled for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.

Hatch said the event will be an opportunity for residents to meet candidates for both the city council and school board, and to ask them questions about their campaigns.

Tuition for the eight-month adult program is $800, and the cost for the youth leadership program is $250, with tuition assistance and scholarships available for both groups. More information can be found online at http://leadershipua.org.