CEP Custom-Designed Programs

CEP Custom-Designed Programs

Custom-Designed Programs

Work with CEP staff to design a program that meets the needs of your students and curriculum.

Provide an opportunity for YOUR students to:
  • Engage in hands-on service with communities 
  • Learn about important social problems & inspiring solutions
  • Develop and practice leadership skills
  • Earn service hours while making a difference
  • Explore an exciting city

See details below to learn more.

CEP Curriculum Development Pageblock

CEP Curriculum Development Pageblock

Curriculum Develoment

CEP staff can provide curriculum development support to educators in the areas of service-learning, civics, and social justice education to align with local standards, including Illinois’ civics mandates at the middle and high school levels.

See details below to learn more.

Educator Workshops & Trainings

Educator Workshops & Trainings

Educator Workshops & Trainings 

CEP staff can provide training for educators, youth development professionals and other groups of practitioners on various topics within service-learning, social justice education, student management, and youth development. Learn more.



Why partner with CEP?
  • Opportunity: Many schools or organizations don’t have the time, resources or expertise to offer these opportunities on their own – allow CEP to start with your learning goals and do the work of designing and facilitating a meaningful curriculum or program experience for your students.

  • Quality: 95% of alumni from CEP custom-designed programs would participate in a CEP program again, given the opportunity. 97% would recommend a CEP program to a friend. Mind-blowing, life-changing and eye-opening aren’t just catchy marketing slogans – they are feedback we consistently receive from our students. Contact CEP to be connected with a student alumni program reference.
  • Flexibility: We’ll work with you to meet the needs of your students and staff – programs and curriculum services can be scheduled anytime during the school year, and are offered at various durations and price points. 
  • Professional Development: Your educators and staff members can gain an introduction to (or advanced training in) service-learning, and come away with best practices to implement in their own classrooms or programs.

  • Subject Area Expertise: CEP’s full-time staff team provides over fifty years of experience in designing, facilitating and evaluating service-learning and youth development programs and curriculum.  We know what works, and how to provide a quality learning experience. Contact us for details about speaking to a CEP partner reference.


What does CEP mean by “service-learning?”
CEP defines service-learning as an approach to education that integrates meaningful community service with academic objectives for mutual benefit.
We believe:
  • service-learning is an important complement to classroom-based academic learning, and students are best served by experiencing both pedagogies;
  • community service can – and should – be meaningful to students, best experienced through carefully planned experiences and led by group leaders trained in service-learning and experiential education;
  • service should be tied to a curriculum framework, and student learning is facilitated from the debrief and reflection activities that follow a service experience in addition to the hands-on service experiences;
  • communities are full of assets, and we work to partner with communities, rather than for communities;
  • our service is mutually beneficial, and more often than not, our groups take away more than we are able to provide in our short-term service.
The Student Experience
CEP’s programs are geared towards:
  • Bright, motivated students in grades 7-12 who show leadership ability or potential and an interest in service
  • Student groups as small as 18, and as large as 100
CEP programs are inclusive of students, staff, partners & community members of different races, cultures, religions, national origins, genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages and abilities.
CEP Program Components
Meaningful Service
Each day, students engage in what they call the most eye-opening element of CEP programs: meaningful service. Sample service projects include serving a meal at a soup kitchen, running activities at a youth center, or conducting outreach for a neighborhood organization. See sample itineraries linked below for more information about possible service partners.
Leadership Development
Through facilitated teambuilding activities, students build strong and lasting friendships and develop interpersonal and leadership skills. 
Challenge Perspectives through Reflection
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.
Inclusive Community
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 helps to establish a tight-knit community, and traveling via public transit offers a unique way to explore the city. 
Credit & Service Hours
Participants earn service hours and service-learning credit towards school or extracurricular requirements. In addition, students often report that their CEP experience provides rich material for college admissions essays, job and internship interviews, and future academic assignments. 


Where do CEP programs take place?
CEP regularly facilitates programs in dynamic, diverse cities across the country including Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Evanston, IL; San Francisco, CA; and Washington DC.
We also have experience facilitating programs in smaller U.S. cities and rural areas, and are open to discussing your geographic preferences.
Recent CEP program topics have included:
  • Community Health & Medicine
  • Education Policy & School Reform
  • Environmental Justice
  • Human Rights & Urban Affairs
  • Immigration & Global Affairs
  • Law & Criminal Justice
  • Leadership & Service
  • Politics & Urban Development
  • Urban Poverty
  • Youth Voice & Community Change

Additional program topics can be developed in consultation with school partners to complement existing curriculum standards.

Program Logistics
CEP students and staff are housed in retreat-style housing in the heart of their host communities (generally, a hostel or community center.) During the program design process, CEP will offer a menu of housing options (and price points) available in our host communities to choose from. 
Community living is enhanced by shared meals, and most meals are cooked by teams of students’ themselves, depending on the duration of the program. CEP staff screen any dietary restrictions of students before the program, to ensure that each students’ dietary needs are met.
To most fully experience urban life, CEP students and staff travel exclusively via public transportation during the program.  (CEP can help arrange transportation for students to & from the CEP program site, if necessary.) CEP staff members are trained on city-specific public transit systems, and safety protocols for traveling with students via public transportation.


What does a typical day look like during a CEP program?
View sample itineraries and learning goals from CEP’s various program models:
How much do custom-designed CEP programs cost?

Program rates are quoted per participant, and include: 

  • Program design, development and administration costs
  • Student admission and processing fees
  • Staff recruitment, hiring and training expenses
  • Staff instruction and 24-hour student supervision during the program
  • Room, board, and transportation for students and staff for the duration of the program 
  • Service project and speaker fees
Note: transportation to and from the program site is not included in the rates below. CEP can manage travel arrangements for students at an additional cost, if desired. 
Program fees may be paid by families, schools/districts/organizations, or a combination. CEP will invoice families directly for program fees, if desired.  
2019-2020 Rates*

Fees vary based upon the program length, location and accommodations, number of participants, and other details, and begin at the level quoted below:

Program Length Minimum # of Participants All-inclusive program rates, starting at:
2-day 60 students $350
4-day 24 students $850
1-week 18 students $1,250

*Rates are subject to change. 20-21 rates will be posted as face-to-face programming resumes.


CEP curriculum services range from our team providing guidance, resources, and feedback to curricula developed by local teaching staff, to CEP providing full curriculum units (including course objectives, lessons, activities, and assessments), that integrate service-learning and social justice teaching standards and are aligned with local civics requirements.

Please note, as curricula are customized to local standards, a two-three month lead time is required for consultation with CEP before the desired curriculum implementation date.

Complete our interest form, and a CEP staff member will follow up to schedule an initial consultation.


Complete our interest form to provide us some basic information on the program or curriclum you're looking to provide. CEP staff will follow up within five business days to schedule an initial consult.
Quotes are valid for up to six months, so after your consultation you’re under no obligation to commit to a program immediately. However, we have found that the most successful partnerships stem from an existing interest for such programming on the part of students, families, schools and funders.
Schools/districts/organizations who want to partner with CEP generally choose one or two staff members (teachers, administrators, or staff members) to serve as the point of contact and liaise with CEP throughout the design and implementation process.
Please note: during the height of CEP program seasons (March-April, and June-August) our full-time staff are managing programs, and response time for custom-designed inquiries may be delayed. Thank you for your patience.


CEP partner organizations have included the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Gower Middle School, Lake Forest Academy, North Shore Country Day School, and the West Suburban Consortium for Academic Excellence.
Contact us for details about speaking to a CEP Program Partner reference.


In response to the pandemic, Northwestern University has implemented a phased return to campus, limited face-to-face programming, and restricted travel. Similarly, we are aware that many schools around the country are continuing to work remotely into the fall quarter. At this time, CTD is conducting its programs and services in a remote format. The return of face-to-face programming will vary according to state and university requirements and school and program circumstances. If your school is interested in face-to-face programs, please contact us to discuss your needs and timeline. In the interim, we welcome the opportunity to provide your school with remote options to meet your needs.   

Copyright 2014 Northwestern University Center for Talent Development