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Leapfrog-Spark Programs

  • Full-day options from 8am to 5pm
  • Small class sizes
  • Supervised lunch included for students staying all day 
  • PreK and K-1 open enrollment classes: $275
  • Special rates for enrolling in more than one half-day class or more than one all-day class





Application Process

Applications are submitted using MyCTD, the online course application system.  Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are completed.  Incomplete applications do not "hold a spot" in the desired course.  Once you have paid the tuition and submitted the application you will recieve an email with further instructions. You will then be able to return to the application and select View Application Details to upload any necessary documents and to get the teacher recommendation link if necessary.


Please note: Our current system is not able to allow applicants to apply to more than one session on an application. To apply to multiple sessions you will need to submit the application and then return to the MyCTD Home Page and select Apply to Program under the student's name again.  

The Leapfrog-Spark Summer Program welcomes applications from returning applicants as well as new open enrollment, scores 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 PreK through grade 5 and you meet both of the following criteria: 

  • You have successfully completed a CTD course through the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program or Online Program at the Emerald or Magenta Tier within the previous twenty-four months. 
  • You are now applying for a Leapfrog-Spark course with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) of a CTD course you previously completed.

New Scores Applicant
You are a new scores applicant if you are PreK through grade 5 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 Math) for your desired course that are no more than two years old.
  • You have previously attended a course with the Weekend Enrichment Program, Summer Program, or CTD Online Program, but you are now applying for a course with a different qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) and you have qualifying grade-level test scores. 
  • You have participated in above grade-level testing such as the PSAT™8/9 test taken in grades 3, 4, or 5 (NUMATS);

New Portfolio Applicant
You are a portfolio applicant if you are in grade 2 through grade 5 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 


             2) taken this type of test but not achieved a qualifying score.

 An Admission Portfolio includes the following documents:

  • Required: one teacher recommendation form, the link to which will be available in your MyCTD account once the application is submitted, indicating that the student is performing 1½ to 2 years above grade level in the subject area of the course to which the student is applying; 
  • Required: most recent school report card indicating exceptional performance in the subject area of the Leapfrog-Spark course to which the student is applying; 
  • If available: most recent state testing report (e.g. NWEA/MAP); or any results of a grade-level test.

Please note that students are to apply to the grade level that they are in as of January 1 for summer program courses.  For the purposes of the summer program, students are considered to be in the grade they just completed and NOT the grade they will enter in the fall.

Applications are submitted using MyCTD, the online course application system. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; many courses begin to fill as soon as mid-March. Complete applications are reviewed as they are received. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are completed.  Incomplete applications do not "hold a spot" in the desired course.

It can take up to a week for our staff to first review new submitted applications as well as any documentation added to complete an application later. Until our staff has verified the documents it will not yet be reflected in what you see in MyCTD.  We kindly ask you to not call nor email our office to confirm receipt of documentation or application items within a week of submitting them.


Application deadlines are typically in June and July, depending on the session. Courses are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.




Eligibility Requirements

Admission Opportunity for Young Children: CTD offers multiple course options to accommodate the developmental needs of PreK students:

  • PreK-aged students with limited or no school experience may wish to start in CTD’s Open Enrollment PreK courses.  No testing is required for these Amber tier courses.
  • PreK students ready for CTD's PreK - K Emerald tier courses, must provide qualifying subject area test scores. See CTD's eligibility page for more information, or visit our young student testing page to schedule a testing appointment for your child. 
  • Students with considerable PreK experience who are performing above age-level expectations are encouraged to apply, with appropriate testing, to PreK - K Emerald tier courses. 

To qualify for Emerald tier Leapfrog-Spark Summer Program courses, students must be 4 years old through grade 5 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 qualifying subject area (Verbal or Math) for the desired course; OR
  • Successful completion of a CTD course, with the same qualifying subject area within the past two years; OR
  • For students in grades 2 through 5: Submission of a portfolio application consisting of a teacher recommendation and the student’s most recent report card, demonstrating that the student is performing exceptionally well in the qualifying subject area.  
  • Please note: Portfolio applications are NOT available to students in grades PreK - Grade 1. Open enrollment courses are available for students in these grades. 

Fees, Financial Aid & Withdrawals

Tuition (Subject to change for 2021)

  • First half-day Leapfrog Course: $345
  • Each additional half-day  Leapfrog courses: $310
  • First all-day  Leapfrog-Spark course: $670
  • Each additional all-day course: $570
  • Open enrollment courses: $275

Withdrawal Policy

  • Requests for withdrawals and refunds must be made in writing by 11:59 PM on Monday, June 29, 2020. E-mail requests should be sent to CTD-admissions@northwestern.edu.
  • Withdrawals are subject to a processing fee of $60.
  • Withdrawal requests made after the deadline will recieve 50% of tution paid, less the processing fee.
  • Students who withdraw after the start of the program are not eligible for any refund.
  • Once a refund has been initiated, it may take up to six weeks to appear in the account from which it was paid, depending on the type of account and the billing cycles.

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 the Leapfrog-Spark Summer program is 11:59 p.m. on April 9, 2020.  However, funds are limited and historically our financial aid has been fully dispersed before the deadline date.
  • Do NOT wait for your 2019 tax info to be completed. You can provide your 2018 info along with your 2019 W-2.
  • Financial aid applications are not reviewed until a student has completed their course application and has been placed into a class.  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.

Gary Greenberg Technology Scholarship

Students with financial need applying for select grade 1–3 technology courses may also apply for a Gary Greenberg Technology Scholarship using a separate online application. The application includes an "essay" to be completed with the help of parents, but with the ideas of the student. Essays should tell why students are excited about the course and one thing they want to learn from the course. Essays may be in written form (e.g. drawing with dictation, child's writing) or other media (e.g. 30-second audio or video file). For families not applying for financial aid, a brief (1–2 paragraphs) statement of need must also be provided by the parent or guardian.

To see a list of eligible courses for Summer 2020 please see our Scholarship Opportunities page.

Site Locations

Sites listed below were for originally scheduled in-person programs in summer 2020.


GEMS World Academy

350 East South Water Street



John Middleton Elementary School

8300 St. Louis Avenue



Saints Peter & Paul School

Corner of Ellsworth & Franklin Street


Lake Forest

Lake Forest Country Day School

145 South Green Bay Road


Leapfrog-Spark courses engage students who are PreK through grade 5 in challenging academic adventures. Hands-on activities help children with demonstrated strength in the math and/or verbal areas acquire and practice new concepts in unique and interesting ways. 

PreK Open Enrollment courses are designed to engage and support young learners who are in preschool or have limited school experience.  These courses incorporate centers, circle time with picture books, dramatic play and early literacy activities to explore fundamental science concepts. There are no eligibility requirements for PreK Open Enrollment classes, but children should be ready to spend class time away from parents and be developmentally ready to participate in classroom activities.  PreK Open Enrollment participants will receive a course evaluation, which provides feedback on progress and performance. These courses do not determine eligibility for PreK-K courses. PreK- K courses and above require demonstrated eligibility such as test scores. 

K-1 Open Enrollment courses are designed for students who have demonstrated an early interest in learning and enjoy academically advanced classroom experiences. These students may be taking an Open Enrollment course because they have not yet completed testing. Open enrollment classes provide the same model for enriching learning experiences as eligibility-based courses, with pacing and content differentiated for students' ability levels. 

PreK - K to Grade 3 Half-Day Courses Each half-day course is designed to accommodate two grade levels: PreK-K, K-1, 1-2, or 2-3.  This structure provides more course options and allows students with similar skills and abilities to be grouped together.  Enrollment in PreK through K-1 courses is appoximately 16 students; grades 1-2 and 2-3 courses accommodate appoximately 18 students.  Families receive a written evaluation of student performance.  Evaluations provide feedback about progress and engagement in the course and are emailed to families after the program concludes, usually by late September.   

All-Day Courses are weeklong explorations with a maximum of 18 students. Experienced instructors and teaching assistants work together to get to know students, encourage their talents and engage them in hands-on activities and challenging lessons.  When choosing a course, students should apply to courses that are of high  interest to them and build upon their academic strengths. For students in grades 3-4 and grades 4-5, they may receive assignments to be completed outside of class. These assignments will serve to extend or deepen learning on topics covered in the classroom, and to foster their growing independence as learners. If students are not able to complete homework assignments for any reason, it will not limit their ability to participate fully in classroom activities. Any assignment to be completed at home will take no longer than one hour to complete.  

Families receive a written evaluation of student work.  Evaluations provide feedback about progress, engagement, and performance in the course and are emailed to families after the program concludes, usually by late September.  

Drop Off & Pick Up

Families drop off and pick up students at their classrooms. In Chicago, families have the option of using a car drop-off and pick-up line. 

  • Half-day morning courses meet 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Drop off can begin at 8:50 a.m., and pick up is at 12 noon.
  • Half-day afternoon courses meet 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Drop off can begin at 12:50 p.m., and pick up is at 4 p.m.
  • All-day courses meet 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Drop off can begin at 8:50 a.m., and pick up is at 4 p.m.

Before Care & After Care at all Leapfrog - Spark Sites

  • Before Care: 8am - 9am
  • After Care: 4pm - 5pm
  • No extra fee
  • All students must register for Before Care & After Care before participating.

Snack and Lunch/Recess Time

Leapfrog-Spark students should bring a water bottle and one or two peanut/tree nut-free snacks that do not require refrigeration or heating. Half-day courses routinely take a snack break about halfway through each three-hour class. In all-day courses, students usually take two breaks each day.

Students enrolled in both a morning course and an afternoon course or in an all-day course will be supervised by staff from 12 noon to 1 p.m. for lunch and recess time. Families must provide a bag lunch that does not require refrigeration or heating.

A no peanut/tree nut policy is in effect at all Leapfrog-Spark program sites. Our staff monitors students' snack and lunch items and will remove items containing peanuts or tree nuts.

Safety & Supervision

Student safety is the highest priority of the Leapfrog-Spark program. Students are under the direct supervision of staff members at all times. Our staff works to establish expectations for student behavior that are consistent with an inviting learning environment and reflect CTD's commitment to fostering character development, integrity, and respect for diversity. 

A family handbook, provided when students are accepted to a course, includes detailed information about expectations for student behavior, including the CTD Honor Code and our commitment to student health, supervision, and safety.

International Students

Leapfrog-Spark courses are taught in English. Students must be confident and comfortable speaking English in order to participate in Leapfrog courses.

Any admitted student who is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or in another visa category that allows for study, and is applying for more than one half-day course (over 18 hours of study), requires sponsorship for a student visa. Failure to comply may negatively impact a student's ability to secure another non-immigrant visa in the future. Please see the International Students Page for more information.

Copyright 2014 Northwestern University Center for Talent Development