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.

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.



What are the benefits of a custom-designed CEP program?
  • 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 life-changing 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 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.

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


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 Program Champion and liaise with CEP throughout the design and implementation process.
Program Champions:
  • Meet with CEP for an initial program consultation
  • Provide feedback and approval for the program design
  • Identify and recruit student participants 
  • Help arrange support for students/families with financial need (if necessary) 
  • Arrange and/or student travel to and from the program site (if necessary)
  • Participate in post-program evaluation and follow up
  • May provide staff/volunteers to help chaperone the program, if desired (not required by CEP) 
CEP Administrative Staff:
  • Deliver one-on-one customer service during every step of the program planning process
  • Provide 24/7 oversight and support of students and staff during the program
  • Design recruitment and application materials for student recruitment
  • Provide training for any chaperones that will be on site during the program
  • Certify student participation and service-learning credit hours through Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development
  • Deliver a final report and evaluation summary to Program Champions 
To get started:
  • Complete our Custom-Designed Program Interest Form to give a sense of what type of experience you are looking to provide for your students. After your questionnaire is submitted it is reviewed by CEP program staff. Generally, we’ll be in touch within 5 business days to follow up with your inquiry.  
Program 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 program partnerships stem from an existing interest for such programming on the part of students, families, schools and funders.
Please note: during the height of CEP program seasons (March-April, and June-August) our full-time staff are running programs at sites throughout the country, and response time will 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.
Copyright 2014 Northwestern University Center for Talent Development