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Civic Leadership Institute students... 

  • 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!

Forms & Downloads:



Civic Leadership Institute welcomes applications from returning applicants as well as new score and portfolio applicants. Before beginning the online application, determine which type of applicant you are based on the descriptions below.

Returning Applicant
You are a returning applicant if you are in grade 9 through grade 12 and you meet the following criteria: 

  • You have successfully completed a verbal/reading qualifying area CTD course through the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program, Civic Education Project or Online Program at the Emerald Tier, or a tier with a higher score requirement, within the previous twenty-four months. 

New Scores Applicant
You are a new scores applicant if you are in grade 9 through grade 12 and you meet either one of the following criteria:

  • You have not attended any CTD program for the past two years and you have qualifying grade-level test scores (Verbal or Reading) that are no more than two years old.
  • You have participated in above grade-level testing such as the  the ACT® or SAT® test taken in grades 7 or 8 within the past two years (NUMATS);

New Portfolio Applicant
You are a portfolio applicant if you are in grade 9 through grade 12 and the following is applicable to you:

  • You do not have qualifying test scores because you have either:
        1) never taken a nationally normed standardized achievement test, or
        2) taken this type of test but not achieved a qualifying score.

 An Admission Portfolio includes the following documents:

  • Required: one teacher recommendation form, from a language arts or humanities instructor, the link to which will be available in your MyCTD account once the application is submitted 
  • Required: most recent school report card indicating exceptional performance in verbal or reading skills; 
  • If available: most recent state testing report (e.g. NWEA/MAP); or any results of a grade-level test such as PSAT™8/9 taken in middle school.

Accepted Students

Accepted students will recieve admissions materials via email 1- 3 weeks after their application is complete.  Enrollment information will include a link to information regarding housing and travel details, a packing list, required health information, as well as program rules and policies.  This information will be fully available in early spring.


The application period for Civic Leadership Institute will close Monday, June 15th, 2020.  

After May 14th, 2020, tuition increases by $100.00.

Applications submitted after June 8th must be accompanied by full tuition payment.



To qualify for Emerald tier Civic Leadership Institute (CLI) courses, students must be in grade 9 through grade 12 and must also provide one of the following:

  • Achievement of  a score of 90th percentile or higher on a nationally normed grade-level assessment in the required verbal/reading qualifying subject area.
  • Successful completion of a CTD course, with a verbal/reading qualifying subject area within the past two years.
  • Past participated in above grade-level testing such as the  the ACT® or SAT® test taken in grades 7 or 8 within the past two years (NUMATS);
  • Submission of a portfolio application, consisting of a teacher recommendation and the student’s most recent report card, demonstrating that the student is performing well in language arts or humanities.

International Applicants

Visit the International Students page for more information.



Tuition includes all program expenses:
  • Room and board for three weeks
  • Service Project and field trip fees
  • Books and materials
  • Staff instruction and supervision
  • $4,250 up through May 14th, 2020
  • $4,350 after May 14th, 2020, through close of application.


Financial Aid

CTD offers need-based financial aid awarded as requests are received. Families are encouraged to apply early because the amount of aid available is limited. Please see the Financial Aid page for details. 

  • The deadline to apply for financial aid for Civic Leadership Institute is April 9, 2020. However, funds are limited and historically our financial aid has been fully dispersed before the deadline date.
  • Financial aid applications are not reviewed until a student has completed their course application and has been placed into the program.  Acceptance emails for students who have indicated they are applying for financial aid are not sent until a financial aid decision has been rendered.
  • It is imperative that you complete the financial aid application as soon as possible as it may take FACTS up to ten days to process your information.
  • If you have previously completed a FACTS application for CTD you must still begin with the current link in the application confirmation email for this year’s program.  You will be able to link your FACTS account to this new FACTS information.  You may need to update financial information.
  • If you experience difficulties with the FACTS process please call the FACTS helpline at 866-412-4637.

Payment Plan

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.


Through an advanced course in Service, Leadership & Community Transformation, challenge yourself to learn in new ways and apply your skills in real-world settings.  

Challenge Your Thinking
Class groups of approximately 15 students, along with an experienced instructor, engage in an innovative curriculum that integrates theory and practice. Explore current social and political issues in a hands-on engaging learning environment.  Build your awareness and opinions by developing your critical thinking skills through dialogue and debate. Hear from top government, business, and nonprofit leaders about their experiences, perspectives, and guidance for young people who want to create change. View a Sample Syllabus.

Make a Difference
Engage in meaningful, eye-opening service-learning every other day during the program. Projects range from serving a meal to commuity members, to running activities at a youth center, to conducting outreach for a neighborhood organization. 

Practice Leadership
Gain confidence in communicating your ideas and develop your leadership strengths and style. Through small group work and activities, gain experience in teamwork and problem-solving. Leave CLI inspired and empowered to create positive change! 

Engage in Community
Experience cultural and recreational opportunities outside of class. An afternoon or weekend might be spent playing soccer, exploring the new exhibit at an art museum, or browsing the local farmers’ market. Sign out in pairs to visit sites close to campus, such as local shops, bookstores, and cafes. View a Sample Daily Schedule 

Connect Learning to Your Life
Create an action plan on an area of interest to put in place when you return home under the mentorship and guidance of instructional staff. View Recent Action Plan Topics

Experience CLI Here!


 CLI students earn 100 hours of service-learning credit (including 25 hours of direct service) towards school or extracurricular requirements.

Students may also be eligible for high school credit. Students interested in pursuing credit should discuss their school's policy concerning credit from outside institutions with an academic counselor or school administrator before applying. A sample syllabus is available to share with school officials. Students will be able to document 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.

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. Evaluation materials are sent to families (and schools, if requested) 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.


Inclusive Community
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 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. Students live on all-gender floors, and are roomed by gender. 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.

Our Campuses

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
Evanston, IL
On Northwestern University’s Evanston Campus, CLI students experience college life at a world-class institution. The campus is a beautiful 240 acres on the shore of Lake Michigan, with cutting-edge facilities, lakefront paths and beaches and views of the Chicago skyline. Academic and residential activities offer students an unparalleled opportunity to explore both Evanston and Chicago. This one-of-a-kind campus experience combines the best of a college town and a global city.


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
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.

Contact Us

For information regarding Civic Leadership Institute admissions, contact:

For information about the Civic Leadership Insitute or other CEP programs, contact:

Copyright 2014 Northwestern University Center for Talent Development