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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!



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, participants 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, views of the Chicago skyline, and access to shops and restaurants in one of America’s top college towns. Academic and residential activites offer students an unparalleled opportunity to explore Chicago. Service experiences immerse students in vibrant neighborhoods throughout the city like Bronzeville, Chinatown, and Pilsen. On weekends students explore the city's top musesums and cultural sites, like Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile. This one-of-a-kind campus experience combines the best of a college town and a global city.

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.


Challenging Academics
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 meaningful, 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 of 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.

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

Participants may also be eligible for high school credit. 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.


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 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. Male and female students share floors, but they have separate rooms and bathrooms. 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.

City & Campus Exploration
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, browsing 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.

RESIDENCE HALL AVAILABILITY: Northwestern University is undergoing a major renovation project involving all of the residence halls on the Evanston campus for the next several years. Due to renovation schedules, residence halls in use may not have air conditioning.


The safety of Civic Leadership Institute participants is paramount at all times. 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.



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 2018;
  • can demonstrate a high level of academic ability (through a test score or admission portfolio – see below);
  • have a sincere interest in learning about communities, social issues, and civic engagement. 

The following details are for the CTD Civic Leadership Institute in Evanston. 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

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 school report card or transcript;
  • one completed Recommendation Form;
  • most recent standardized test scores (if available).

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 supporting materials.

International Applicants

Visit the International Students page for more information.


The following details are for the CTD Civic Leadership Institute in Evanston. 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 for three weeks
  • Service Project and field trip fees
  • Books and materials
  • Staff instruction and supervision
  Early Application Tuition (through May 14, 2018) Regular Application Tuition (after May 14, 2018)
Evanston     $3,950 $4,050


Payment Policies

Applications received by May 14 are subject to the early bird tuition rate; applications received after May 14 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 11.

Students with an outstanding balance at this deadline may lose their place in the program.
Applications received after June 11 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

The financial aid application for summer 2018 courses has been closed. All available aid has been allocated for this year. If you have been accepted to a program and have a pending financial aid application, you will be notified about its status. 


Payment Plan

A five-month payment plan option is available to all families. The payment plan application is available upon enrollment and acceptance to the program.

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

All requests for refunds and/or withdrawals must be made in writing. 

Prior to June 11, 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 adequarte for participation, the withdrawal processing fee is waived.

Students who withdraw after June 11, but before the start of the program, are refunded 50% of tuition less the deposit and 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.


The following details are for the CTD Civic Leadership Institute in Evanston. 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:

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 14, 2018 receive a discounted tuition rate. 

Applications close on June 15, 2018. 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 3
Applications Open
Applications and financial aid requests are reviewed when they are complete and on a rolling basis
Students are encouraged to apply early 

April 16  
Financial Aid Application Deadline 

May 14                       
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 11)
Tuition balance and forms due  

June 11
Withdrawal Deadline
Full refund (less a $60 processing fee)
June 15 
Application Close Deadline
Late applications may be accepted and considered as space permits


For information regarding Civic Leadership Institute admissions, contact:

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


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