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Civic Leadership Institute participants... 

  • Serve communities in need

  • Analyze pressing social problems and promising solutions
  • Develop leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills
  • Meet with top government, business, and nonprofit leaders
  • Explore college life in an exciting city
  • Build lasting friendships with bright, motivated peers
  • Earn academic credit and service hours
  • Discover ways to make a difference in the world!

Explore CLI



Johns Hopkins University, Peabody Campus
Baltimore, MD*
Johns Hopkins University's Peabody Campus is situated in Baltimore's historic Mount Vernon neighborhood. Home to Johns Hopkins' music conservatory, the campus provides the atmosphere of a small, private university amid the diversity and excitement of an urban setting. From a home base in central Baltimore, students have access to educational and recreational opportunities throughout the city. Classes also take a day trip to Washington, DC.

Northwestern University
Chicago, IL
Civic Leadership Institute participants live and learn in the heart of downtown Chicago, at the University Center Residence Hall. This ideal central location offers unparalleled access to Chicago’s Loop and historic neighborhoods throughout the city. Service experiences immerse students in vibrant communities like Bronzeville, Chinatown, and Pilsen; while recreational activities allow students to explore cultural sites and tourist attractions like Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile. Living downtown provides students with an exceptional opportunity to experience all that this incredible city has to offer.

University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA*
One of the world's premier public universities, the University of California, Berkeley offers the opportunity to experience college life at a prestigious academic and research institution. The UC system's flagship campus is a wooded 178 acres amid a diverse and thriving college town. From this vibrant city on the bay, students have access to a wealth of service and recreational sites throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

*The Civic Leadership Institutes in Baltimore and Berkeley are programs of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth.


Academic Challenge
Through an advanced course in Service, Leadership, & Community Transformation, students are challenged to learn in new ways and apply their skills in real-world settings. Class groups of approximately 15 students, along with an experienced instructor, engage in an innovative curriculum that integrates theory and practice.

Classroom learning is active and engaging. In addition to readings and written assignments, our instructors utilize interactive exercises, simulations, independent and small group projects, and facilitated dialogue and debate. Students develop their critical thinking skills by examining and defending their own ideas and learning to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others.

Meaningful Service
Through powerful, hands-on service experiences, the city becomes a classroom, and the issues communities are facing become the textbook. Students are able to connect with people, hear their stories, and gain an understanding fo the the issues that reading and assignments alone can't provide.

Several times a week, in their class groups, students engage in service projects that span neighborhoods, organizations, and approaches to addressing social problems. During a typical project, students might serve a meal to someone experiencing homelessness, run educational and recreational activities at a youth center, or conduct outreach for a neighborhood improvement organization.

All service experiences are coordinated 
and facilitated by program staff, who create a supportive environment where students feel safe to participate in activities they may have never attempted before.

Year after year, students report that these service experiences are the most eye-opening element of the program.

Speakers & Seminars
A series of all-campus guest speakers allows students to hear from top government, business, and nonprofit leaders about their experiences, perspectives, and advice for young people who want to create change.

Students also have the opportunity to explore special current social and political issues and ways to engage in their local and global communities through a weekly set of diverse mini-workshops drawn from the expertise of our talented staff teams.

Leadership Development
Student leadership is essential to the program experience, as students move beyond participating in the program to taking ownership of their learning and their residential experience. In the process, students hone their communication and interpersonal skills and gain practice in teamwork and problem solving.

Students leave the program with an action plan to address a need in their home community, applying the tools they learned in the course to an area of personal interest.

Students report that their program experience provides rich material for college admissions essays, job and internship interviews,
 and future academic assignments. Most importantly, students build their capacity as active, engaged citizens and leave the program inspired and empowered to create positive change.

View a Sample Syllabus.


Participants may be eligible for high school credit and up to 100 hours of service-learning credit, including 25 hours of direct service, towards school or extracurricular requirements.

Students interested in pursuing credit should discuss this option with school officials before applying to the program. Students or families should contact the academic counselor, registrar, principal, or other school administrator responsible for granting credit at the student's academic-year school. You may download a sample syllabus to share with school officials prior to the program. Additionally, let school officials know that you will be able to document your completion of the course with a detailed evaluation from the instructor, certification of service hours, and a transcript or certificate of completion. Often a school district will require a certain number of contact hours to qualify for credit. The Civic Leadership Institute provides 100 contact hours with the discipline.

The acceptance of credit at a student's academic-year school depends on the student's successful completion of the course and the school's institutional policy about the recognition of credit from outside institutions. While successful completion of a course indicates that a student has mastered the material covered, we cannot guarantee that the academic-year school will acknowledge or accept the credit earned.

Evaluations & Transcripts
All students receive a narrative evaluation after completion of the course. The evaluation provides feedback on the student’s achievements in the course and outlines areas for further growth. Students also receive certification of service hours, and an official transcript or certificate of completion. School officials typically require copies of these materials to grant proper credit. Many students also choose to include them in their college applications. Evaluation materials are sent to families (and schools, if requested) approximately six weeks following the completion of the program. CEP is also happy to complete any specific forms required for students to earn service hours; contact our office for assistance with this.


Community & College Life
CLI offers an opportunity for students to experience a true living-learning community. Students and staff live on a top college campus in an exciting city. In diverse class and residential groups, students form strong bonds with like-minded peers from across the country and around the world. Staff are invested in the success of every student, and help build a safe and supportive environment for growth and self-discovery.

All Civic Leadership Institute participants live in one residence hall on campus, under the supervision of specially trained residential staff. Each resident assistant (RA) is responsible for a group of approximately 15 students. Most students are assigned to double rooms, but on occasion, students are assigned to singles or triples. Bathrooms are shared. The residence hall has defined boundaries for male and female students; cross-hall visitation is not permitted. Students eat with residential staff and other members of the university community in a dining hall on campus. Students also have limited access to other campus facilities, including libraries, computer labs, and athletic fields.

Exploration & Fun
Just as the city becomes a classroom, it also becomes a place to experience cultural and recreational opportunities outside of class. Our residential staff plan and facilitate a wide range of engaging activities that suit the varied interests of our students.

An afternoon might be spent playing soccer, exploring the new exhibit at an art museum, checking out the local farmers’ market, or cloud watching at the park. Students also have the option of signing out in pairs or small groups to visit sites close to campus, such as local shops, bookstores, and cafes. When students need a break, they can relax in the dorms to unwind and talk with friends.

Weekends are a chance to explore the city and engage in all-campus fun, with dances, talent shows, scavenger hunts, and more. Through each unforgettable activity, students connect with new and often lifelong friends.

View a Sample Daily Schedule.


The safety of program participants is paramount at all times. We take careful steps to ensure the well-being of our students, including:

Hiring Experienced Staff Members
Our staff is a talented group of educators brought together by their commitment to teaching highly able young people about civic engagement and social responsibility. Our instructional staff are typically outstanding teachers from secondary schools or universities, graduate students, or youth development professionals with expertise in service-learning. Our residential staff are typically college graduates working in the education or nonprofit fields or junior- or senior-level undergraduates with a background in residential life. All staff are selected through a highly competitive process that weighs such factors as academic background, service-learning experience, and experience working with youth in a residential setting. The process also includes a criminal background check. Alumni consistently report that one of the best aspects of the program is the quality of the staff teams.

Working with Established & Well-Respected Host Agencies 
We work closely with host organizations to provide safe volunteer and learning environments. Host agencies orient students to the communities and activities they will be engaged in and outline precautions students can take to minimize risk and help ensure the safety and well-being of all group members.

Providing Careful Supervision 
While students are ultimately responsible for their own conduct, our trained staff teams work together to provide clear guidelines and careful supervision. Each group of approximately 15 students is supervised by an instructor and teaching assistant during class time and field experiences, and by the residential staff during evening and weekend hours. Administrative staff are also on site at all times to provide support and supervision.  

Requiring a High Standard of Student Conduct
Our programs are highly structured and operate with a strict set of rules regarding campus and community boundaries and appropriate staff supervision. These rules help to ensure the well-being of our students and staff, and all students who attend must be committed to respecting them. Students and families are asked to review our Honor Code so that all participants are aware of the program's expectations and their personal responsibility to contribute to a positive living and learning environment. 

Safeguarding Student Health 
Administrative staff keep health information about each participant on hand at all times and are available to screen student medical concerns and provide first aid. Students who become ill or injured are taken to walk-in clinics or emergency rooms for treatment. Families are responsible for all health care costs incurred by their children during the program.

Ensuring Emergency Preparedness
We are committed to ensuring the highest level of preparedness for all types of emergencies. Creating and maintaining a safe and secure program environment is a responsibility shared by administrators, staff, and students. Administrators organize service experiences and plan travel routes with an eye to safety and supervision. Staff monitor weather conditions and alter outdoor program activities in the event of inclement conditions. Staff are trained on fire, weather emergency, and evacuation plans and protocols and prepared to manage emergency situations. Finally, students are oriented to ways they can help ensure their own and their fellow group members' safety and well-being.

For more information about how we manage Internet use and student privacy, as well as discrimination, disabilities and sexual harassment, please review CTD's Policy Statements.



Each Civic Leadership Institute brings together a diverse group of bright, motivated high school students with an interest in service and a desire to develop leadership skills. 

CLI is open to students who:

  • will have completed grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 by Summer 2016;
  • can demonstrate a high level of academic ability (through strong reading or verbal test scores or an admission portfolio – see below);
  • have a sincere interest in learning about communities, social issues, and civic engagement. (Applicants are encouraged to use the student essay to demonstrate their interest and/or experience in these areas.)

The following details are for the CTD Civic Leadership Institute in Chicago. Eligibility for the CTY Civic Leadership Institutes in Baltimore and Berkeley varies slightly. See CTY Civic Leadership Institute Eligibility for details.

Application Requirements

How to Qualify
Students can qualify as a:

  • Test Score Applicant
  • Admission Portfolio Applicant
  • Recent Participant

All Applicants must submit:

Test Score Applicants must submit:

  • a 90th percentile or above reading or verbal score on a nationally normed standardized test taken within the last two years;
  • OR participation in above-grade-level testing through Northwestern University's Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS) or similar service within the last two years.

Admission Portfolio Applicants must submit:

  • Most recent standardized test scores, demonstrating academic ability in relevant subject areas;
  • Most recent school report card or transcript, demonstrating academic achievement in relevant subject areas;
  • One completed Teacher Recommendation Form, from a teacher familiar with the student's academic work in the social sciences or humanities.

Recent Participants who have successfully completed any Civic Education Project program or another Center for Talent Development course in the social sciences or humanities within the past two years do not need to submit a test score or admission portfolio.

International Applicants

Visit the International Students page for more information.


The following details are for the CTD Civic Leadership Institute in Chicago. Tuition, financial aid and payment plan options for the CTY Civic Leadership Institutes in Baltimore and Berkeley vary slightly.  See CTY Civic Leadership Institute Tuition & Fees for details.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition includes all program expenses:

  • Room and board
  • Field trip fees
  • Service project materials
  • Staff instruction and 24-hour supervision
  Early Application Tuition (through May 15, 2016) Regular Application Tuition (after May 15, 2016)
Chicago     $3,895 $3,995


Payment Policies

Applications received by May 15 are subject to the early bird tuition rate; applications received after May 15 are subject to the regular tuition rate.

All applications must be accompanied by a tuition deposit of $500. Financial aid applicants may pay a reduced tuition deposit of $60.

The tuition balance is due within 30 days of admission to the program, no later than June 10.

Students with an outstanding balance at this deadline may lose their place in the program.
Applications received after June 10 must be accompanied by payment in full.

Payments may be made by credit card or by check or money order made payable to Center for Talent Development.

Accounts must be up to date on opening day in order for students to check into the program .

Financial Aid

CEP aims to ensure that our programs are accessible to all students who wish to attend, regardless of financial circumstances. Thus, need-based financial aid is available.

Families who wish to apply for financial aid should submit a Financial Aid Application, along with all supporting materials (including income documentation and a statement of need).

Financial aid funds are limited and are granted on a rolling basis beginning in January, so families seeking aid are encouraged to apply early. The financial aid application deadline is April 15.

The amount of aid awarded varies from partial to full tuition. Awards are based on family income and extenuating circumstances. Requests for assistance typically exceed resources. Most families awarded aid have a total household income of less than $50,000. 

Families seeking aid are also encouraged to apply for the payment plan (see below), as financial aid awards may not cover the entire tuition fee. 

Financial aid decisions take approximately four weeks from receipt of a complte financial aid application (including all supporting materials). Families receive notification with their admissions materials of the amount of financial aid granted and balance due. Any remaining balance is due within 30 days, unless arrangements have been made for a payment plan.

Payment Plan

A five-month payment plan option is available to all families. Families who wish to apply for the payment plan should submit a Payment Plan Application.

Families who do not apply or qualify for financial aid are assessed a service charge of $50 for the payment plan. The first payment is due upon acceptance to the program, and subsequent payments are due on the 15th of each month following. Payments must be up to date on opening day in order for students to check in to the program.

Other Sources of Support

We strongly suggest that families with financial need also seek outside support. Accepted students should start soliciting additional funds right away. Local religious or community organizations, businesses, local government offices, friends, and relatives are all potential sources of support. In addition, local schools and private agencies often provide summer scholarships for talented students.

Refunds and Withdrawals

Requests for withdrawals and refunds must be made in writing by June 10, 2016. E-mail to or mail to the CTD office.

Withdrawals are subject to a processing fee of $60.

The tuition deposit is nonrefundable after June 10.

Students who withdraw between June 10 and the start of the program are refunded 50% of the program fees less the deposit and withdrawal processing fee.

Students who withdraw after the start of the program are not eligible for any refund.


The following details are for the CTD Civic Leadership Institute in Chicago. The application process and timeline for the CTY Civic Leadership Institutes in Baltimore and Berkeley vary slightly. See CTY Civic Leadership Institute Admissions Information for details.

Step #1:
Submit an Online Application including:

Step #2:
Submit Supporting Documents as required, including:

Students and families will receive a confirmation e-mail when the application is complete.

Need to Apply by Mail?
Contact CEP to request paper application materials.

Apply Now
Complete applications are reviewed on a rolling basis beginning in January and space is limited, so students are encouraged to apply early to increase their chances of being accepted into the program. Students who apply by May 15, 2016 receive a discounted tuition rate. 

Applications close on June 10, 2016. Late applications may be accepted and considered as space in the program permits. 

Students are notified via e-mail of the status of their application within four weeks of receipt of a complete application (including all supporting materials). Accepted students receive admissions materials via e-mail at that time, with detailed information about the program and site, including travel information, opening and closing day schedules, a packing list, health information, and program rules and policies. 


January 4
Applications Open
Applications and financial aid requests are reviewed on a rolling basis
Students are encouraged to apply early 

April 15  
Financial Aid Application Deadline 

May 15                       
Early Bird Application Deadline 

Within Four Weeks of Complete Application
Admissions materials e-mailed to families 

Within 30 Days of Admission
(No later than June 10)
Tuition balance and forms due  

June 10
Applications Close
Late applications may be accepted and considered as space permits
Withdrawal Deadline

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