Serve in Communities – Explore a Career – Learn How to Make a Difference
The Civic Education Project's CivicWeek brings together outstanding high school students from around the country for service, learning, leadership, and laughter. The city becomes a classroom as students gain hands-on experience with important social issues and explore careers that make a difference in fields like health, human rights, law, politics, and urban development.
Together with an experienced staff team, groups of 12-18 students engage in meaningful service, meetings with top professionals and community leaders, and hands-on learning in a fun and supportive living-learning community.
CivicWeek Page Block with Video
- Engage in hands-on service in communities
- Gain valuable exposure to career fields
- Learn about important social problems and inspiring solutions
- Develop and practice leadership skills
- Explore an exciting city
- Build lasting friendships with bright, motivated peers
- Earn service hours while making a difference
- Discover ways to create positive change
Each day, students engage in what they call the most eye-opening element of the program: meaningful service. Projects range from serving a meal to the hungry, to running activities at a youth center, to conducting outreach for a neighborhood organization.
Students have unprecedented opportunities to experience issues firsthand. They meet with government, business, and nonprofit leaders at the top of their fields and get behind-the-scenes access to career fields of interest.
Through examining complex social problems and engaging in dialogue with peers and leaders, students sharpen communication and critical thinking skills and gain a broader perspective on the world.
Students and staff live in retreat-style housing in the heart of their host communities. A hostel or community center becomes their “home away from home.” Sharing meals (dinners are cooked by teams of students themselves!) helps to establish a tight-knit community, and traveling via public transit offers a unique way to explore the city. Learn more about CivicWeek Housing Sites.
Team Building & Fun
CivicWeek programs bring together diverse, like-minded peers from across the country. Through facilitated teambuilding activities, students build strong and lasting friendships and develop interpersonal and leadership skills. Each program includes opportunities to explore the city’s top attractions, and of course, a whole lot of laughter and fun!
Credit & Service Hours
Participants can earn up to 40 hours of service-learning credit towards school or extracurricular requirements. In addition, students often report that their CivicWeek experience provides rich material for college admissions essays, job and internship interviews, and future academic assignments.
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. The lead staff member on each program is typically a high school teacher or other education or youth development professional with expertise in service-learning. The assistant staff members on each program are typically college graduates working in the education or nonprofit fields, graduate students, or exceptional senior-level undergraduates. 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 provide clear guidelines and careful supervision. Our programs maintain small class or group sizes of 12 to 18 students, and offer a high staff to student ratio of at least one staff member for every six students.
Requiring a High Standard of Student Conduct
Our programs are highly structured and operate with a strict set of rules regarding appropriate boundaries and 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
Staff members 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 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 CivicWeek program brings together a diverse group of bright, motivated high school or junior high students with an interest in service and a desire to develop leadership skills.
CivicWeek is open to students who:
- are enrolled in grade 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12;
- can demonstrate a high level of academic ability (through a test score, GPA, or admission portfolio – see below); and
- 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.)
How to Qualify
Students can qualify as a:
- Test Score or GPA Applicant
- Admission Portfolio Applicant
- Recent Participant
All Applicants must submit:
Test Score or GPA 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;
- OR a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) on their most recent report card.
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 Recommendation Form from an adult familiar with the student’s work in an academic, service, and/or leadership context.
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, grade report, or recommendation form.
School Break Dates & Availability
While CivicWeek programs often coincide with students’ school breaks, some school schedules may not coincide, or students may simply have an interest in a topic or location not offered during their school break. Because CivicWeek is an educational program, many schools will excuse students from class in order to participate. This is a decision families should make in partnership with teachers and school administrators.
Visit the International Students page for more information.
Tuition & Fees
Tuition includes all program expenses:
- Lodging and meals throughout the program
- Transportation to and from program activities
- Service project materials and speaker fees
- Staff instruction and 24-hour supervision, with a staff to student ratio of at least 1:6
- Sightseeing and recreational expenses
Early Application Tuition
Regular Application Tuition
- Applications received by January 15 are subject to the early bird tuition rate; applications received after January 15 are subject to the regular tuition rate.
- All applications must be accompanied by a tuition deposit of $260. 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 the commitment deadline of March 1. Students with an outstanding balance at this deadline may lose their place in the program.
- Applications received after the commitment deadline of March 1 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.
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 November, so families seeking aid are encouraged to apply early. The financial aid application deadline is February 15. 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.
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.
An award letter reflecting the amount of financial aid granted and balance due will be e-mailed to families of admitted students within two weeks of receipt of a complete financial aid application (including all supporting materials). Any remaining balance is due within 30 days, unless arrangements have been made for a payment plan.
A four-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. Schools, local religious or community organizations, businesses, local government offices, friends, and relatives are all potential sources of support. Some students have successfully raised their entire tuition this way!
Refunds & Withdrawals
- All requests for refunds and/or withdrawals must be made in writing.
- Prior to the commitment deadline of March 1, tuition payments are fully refundable, less a withdrawal processing fee of $60. If the student is not accepted into the program, all program choices are closed or canceled, or financial aid is not adequate for participation, the withdrawal processing fee is waived.
- Students who withdraw after the commitment deadline of March 1 but before the start of the program are refunded 50% of tuition, less the withdrawal processing fee.
- Students who withdraw after the start of the program or are dismissed for disciplinary reasons are not eligible for any refund.
- Refunds may take up to eight weeks to process.
Submit an Online Application including:
- Tuition Deposit ($260) (See Tuition for Details)
Submit Supporting Documents as required, including:
- Student Essay
- Test Score and/or Grade Report (See Eligibility & Application Requirements for Details)
- Recommendation Form
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.
Complete applications are reviewed on a rolling basis beginning in November and space is limited, so students are encouraged to apply early to increase their chances of attending their program of choice. Students who apply by January 15, 2016 receive a discounted tuition rate.
The regular application deadline is February 15, 2016. Late applications may be accepted and considered as space in the program permits.
Students able to consider more than one program option should rank their placement preferences on the application. (Students who wish to apply for program options that cross different timeframes should submit an application for their first choice program, then contact us to add additional program choices to their application.) Accepted students are assigned to programs based on a variety of factors, including their placement preferences, the space available for each program, and the composition of each group.
Students are notified via e-mail of the status of their application within two weeks of receipt of a complete application (including all supporting materials). Accepted students receive admissions materials via e-mail at that time, including housing and travel details, a packing list, health information, and program rules and policies.
Applications and financial aid requests are reviewed on a rolling basis
Students are encouraged to apply early
Early Bird Application Deadline
Regular Application Deadline
Financial Aid Application Deadline
Late applications may be accepted and considered as space permits
Within Two Weeks of Admissions materials e-mailed to families
Within 30 Days of Admission
Tuition balance and forms due