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Civic Education Project

CivicAction for the West Suburban Consortium for Academic Excellence

Register Today!

Chicago, IL

April 21, 2023


Learn How to Make a Difference

In partnership with the Civic Education Project, an award-winning leadership and civic engagement program based at Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development, the West Suburban Consortium for Academic Excellence is pleased to offer students in its member school districts the opportunity to participate in this unique service-learning immersion experience in the heart of Chicago.

CivicAction will bring together 75+ outstanding students in grades 7 and 8 from school districts throughout the western suburbs. Under the supervision of trained staff from the Civic Education Project, students will their day engaged in meaningful service and meetings with community leaders at nonprofit organizations throughout the city, along with hands-on learning, reflection, team building and fun!

The program is designed to introduce students to contemporary social issues facing urban communities, and to promote leadership and civic engagement among promising young people.

Application Process and Timeline

Apply Now!
Submit an Online Application including a brief Statement of Purpose.

Applications must be submitted by March 24, 2023. Space in the program is limited. Some preference may be given to applications received early in the process.

Students are notified via e-mail of the status of their application on or around April 5, 2023. Accepted students receive admissions materials via e-mail at that time, including a final schedule, a list of things to bring, health information, tuition payment information, and program rules and policies.

Late Applications
Late applications may be accepted and considered as space in the program permits. Once the program is filled to capacity, qualified applicants may be placed on a waitlist.


February 27
Applications Open

March 24
Priority Application Deadline 

April 5
Admissions Materials E-mailed to Families 

April 12
Tuition & Forms Due 

April 21
CivicAction for West Consortium for Academic Excellence 


CivicAction programs bring together diverse groups of bright, motivated students with an interest in service and a desire to develop skills for leadership and civic engagement.

This CivicAction program is open to students who:

  • are enrolled in grade 7 or 8 in a participating school district;
  • were identified for their school district's gifted and talented program OR have demonstrated a high level of academic excellence OR were nominated by their school for outstanding student leadership; and
  • have a sincere interest in learning about communities, social issues and civic engagement.
Tuition and Payment

CivicAction 2023 Tuition: $XXX
Tuition includes all program expenses:

  • Transportation to and from all program activities
  • Service project materials and speaker fees
  • Staff instruction and 24-hour supervision

Financial Support

  • Financial support may be available through each school district. Contact your school principal for more information.

Payment Policies

  • No tuition deposit is required at time of application.
  • Tuition is due by April 12, 2023. Students with an outstanding balance at this deadline may lose their place in the program.
  • Tuition payments are nonrefundable.
Program Schedule

Friday, April 21

7:45 – 8:00 am            Registration at LJ Hauser Junior High School

Students receive their group assignments and a final itinerary. Civic Education Project staff are available to address any last minute questions.

8:00 – 9:00 am            Orientation

Students receive an orientation to the program philosophy, structure, rules and expectations, and participate in introductory team-building activities within their small groups.

9:00 – 10:00 am          Travel to Chicago (via School Bus)

10:00 – 3:00 pm          Service Project (with Lunch Break & Travel)

Each group visits a nonprofit organization that is addressing issues of urban poverty, often a homeless shelter, community center, or meal program. Students typically receive an orientation and tour from the volunteer coordinator, and then help complete a variety of hands-on service projects. Students might prepare and serve a meal, sort donations, lead recreational activities, or work on gardening or maintenance projects. After service, staff lead students in reflection activities on their experience before traveling back to the program site as a group.

3:00 – 4:00 pm            Faces of Homelessness Panel

The entire group participates in a panel discussion in which individuals who have experienced homelessness share their personal stories. Afterwards, staff facilitate student questions for panelists.

4:00 – 5:00 pm            Small Group Reflection & Closing 

Following the panel, staff facilitate individual and small group reflection activities designed to help students identify ways they can become more active in their schools and communities. 

5:00 – 5:15 pm            Check Out & Student Pick Up at LJ Hauser Junior High School

Curriculum Overview

CivicAction students learn through hands-on experiences, dialogue with peers, staff, and community leaders as they discover ways to create positive change.

CivicAction Components

Projects range from serving a meal at a soup kitchen, to reading to children at a day care center, to working on an urban farm. Students contribute to the work of local nonprofit organizations while learning from clients, staff and community members.

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.

Community Living
Students and staff live in retreat-style housing in the heart of downtown Chicago. A campus or community center becomes their “home away from home.” Sharing meals helps to establish a tight-knit community, and traveling via public transit offers a unique way to explore the city. This program is typically housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Students sleep retreat-style in the rec center or other common space on campus – they bring their own sleeping bags and pillows, are separated by gender, and are supervised by residential staff.

Team-Building & Fun
CivicAction brings together diverse, like-minded peers from throughout the region. Through facilitated team-building activities, students build strong and lasting friendships and develop interpersonal and leadership skills. 

Service Hours
Participants earn 8 hours of service-learning credit (including 4 hours of direct service) towards school or extracurricular requirements. Following the program, each student receives a certificate documenting completion of the program and the service-learning hours awarded.

Safety and Conduct

Student safety is paramount at all times during the program. We take careful steps to ensure the well-being of our students on and off campus, including:

•    Hiring Experienced Staff Members
•    Working with Established and Well-Respected Host Agencies
•    Providing Careful Supervision
•    Requiring a High Standard of Student Conduct
•    Safeguarding Student Health
•    Ensuring Emergency Preparedness

Contact Us

Forms & Downloads

CivicAction Application

CivicAction students... 

  • Serve communities in need
  • Learn about some of the nation’s most pressing social problems and most promising solutions
  • Practice communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills
  • Earn service-learning credit hours
  • Discover ways to become more active leaders and citizens in their schools and communities


“This was a very powerful, eye-opening experience. It teaches you life skills about making the world a better place, and that is more important than anything.” – WSCAE CivicAction Participant

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