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Civic Education Project

Taking Action: Leadership & Service

Grades 6 - 8

Application Open

Explore Courses


June 28 - July 16

Tuition: $1,480

Financial aid available for qualified students.

Become Inspired by Leadership and Service

Taking Action is a three-week course available through CTD’s Spectrum Summer Program in which students investigate the root causes and proposed solutions to pressing social problems. Through academic research, small group work, and facilitated reflection, students enhance their communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, preparing them for a lifetime of leadership and civic engagement. 

Why Choose Taking Action?

Explore ideas in new ways through service-learning projects and interactive group work. Taking Action is a great course for students who learn by doing, and are inspired to make a difference.

Benefits Include:

  • An engaging 3-week online curriculum with daily class meetings
  • Opportunities to take part in meaningful service opportunities and learn about ways communities are working for change
  • A vibrant class community to support and challenge you as you consider ways to take action on issues you care about

In addition to Taking Action, CTD offers a diverse range of online program options; view a full list here.

Application Process and Deadlines

Taking Action: Leadership & Service, a collaborative effort between CEP and the Spectrum Summer Program, welcomes applications from Pre-Qualified applicants as well as New Scores and Portfolio applicants in grades 7 or 8. Before beginning the online application, determine which type of applicant you are based on the descriptions below.

Applications are submitted through MyCTD. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; many courses begin to fill by mid-March. 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 made a payment and submitted the application you will receive 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.

Pre-qualified Review Applicant

You are a pre-qualified review applicant if you are in grade 7 or 8 and you meet both of the following criteria: 

  • You have successfully completed a CTD course through the  Summer Program or Online Program at the Magenta Tier or Indigo Tier (for Advanced Enrichment courses) or Indigo Tier (for Accelerated courses), within the previous twenty-four months. 
  • You are now applying for a course with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal for CEP) as a CTD course you previously completed.

NOTE: Students may NOT apply to Spectrum as pre-qualified participants from Solstice, Weekend Enrichment or Leapfrog-Spark Programs.

New Scores Applicant

You are a New Scores applicant if you are in grade 7 or 8 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 test scores (Verbal, Math or Science) for your desired course that are no more than two years old.
  • You have previously attended a course with the Summer Program or CTD Online Program, but you are now applying for a course with a different qualifying subject area (Verbal for CEP) and you have qualifying test scores. 

New Portfolio Applicant

You are a portfolio applicant if you are in grade 7 or 8 and you do not have qualifying test scores because you have either:

  • never taken a nationally normed standardized achievement test or above-grade-level test, OR
  • taken this type of test but not achieved a qualifying score.

 An Admission Portfolio includes the following documents:

  • Required: one teacher recommendation form (available once you have submitted your application) 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 course to which the student is applying; 
  • If available: most recent standardized testing report (e.g. NWEA/MAP) or results of a state grade-level assessment.

Please note that students should apply for the Summer Program at the grade level they are in as of January 2021. 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. Due to the requirements of many of the service sites with which we work, TALS is only available to students in grades 7 and 8 who will be 13 by the time of the program.

Because applications are accepted on a continuous basis, courses that are listed as available may close before a student's application is complete and comes up for review. We strongly suggest listing second and third choice courses on applications. Applications are processed and reviewed by Admissions staff once all necessary documentation has been provided through the applicant's MyCTD account. 

It can take up to a week for our staff to review newly submitted applications and any documentation provided to complete an application later. Until our staff has verified the documents, submissions will not be reflected in what you see in MyCTD. We kindly ask you to not call nor e-mail our office to confirm receipt of documentation or application items within a week of submitting them.

It may take 2 to 4 weeks for an admissions decision to be made once the application is complete.  You will receive an email once an admissions decision has been made.


Application deadlines are typically in June, but courses are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.


To qualify for Magenta Tier, Spectrum, Taking Action: Leadship & Service students must be in grade 7 or 8 and must also provide one of the following:

  • Achievement of a score of 95th percentile or higher on a nationally normed grade-level assessment in the required qualifying subject area (Verbal for CEP) for the desired course. 
  • Successful completion of a previous CTD course at the Magenta or Indigo Tier, with the same qualifying subject area (Verbal for CEP), within the past two years. 
  • 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. 
  • Participation in above-grade-level testing such as the PSAT™8/9 test taken in grades 5 or 6 or the ACT® or SAT® test taken in grades 6, 7 or 8 (NUMATS) within the last two years.
  • Students from India, UAE, Kuwait or Singapore who have tested with ASSET Talent Search may be able to apply as new students with qualifying test scores.
Fees and Financial Aid


  • $1,480


Please see our withdrawal information for policies.

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 complete a financial aid application for Summer Programs is May 31. However, funds are limited and historically our financial aid has been fully dispersed before the deadline date.
  • Do NOT wait for your 2020 tax info to be completed. You can provide your 2019 info along with your 2020 W-2.
  • You will receive the FACTS application link in your application confirmation email once the $60 dollar tuition deposit is paid and the application is submitted.
  • 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 previously completed a FACTS application for the 2019-2020 academic year for CTD, you must still attach the 2020-2021 FACTS application to your FACTS account. 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

A five-month payment plan option is available. The payment plan application is due within 30 days of acceptance. There is a $50 service charge for using the payment plan; families eligible for financial aid will not be assessed the service charge.


Curriculum Overview

Taking Action is where young student leaders gain a deeper understanding of complex social issues and learn how to make a difference in their communities. View a sample syllabus. 

TALS Curriculum Components

Academic Seminars
Examine issues through a critical lens. Absorb and engage in academic research and topic-focused presentations by instructors. Dialogue with peers to identify diverse viewpoints and consider new ideas.

Meetings with Community Partners
Learn from inspiring partners about their work, career path, and ideas about innovative approaches for meaningful change.

Process course material through guided questions and activities that broaden your perspective and build critical thinking skills.

Service Projects
Partner with a local non-profit or community organization. Get an orientation to their mission, and support their cause with hands-on projects or tasks while earning service hours.

Meet with government, business, and nonprofit leaders at the top of their fields to hear their experiences and path to making change.

Build communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills with classmates through instructor-led activities.

Action Plan
Select an area of interest and synthesize your learning through a plan for change under the mentorship of your instructional staff.

Course Environment

Our online courses are designed to allow each student to explore their strengths and potential as an engaged and creative leader through:

  • Daily live, online class sessions 
  • Self-paced assignments, lessons, and reflections
  • Guest speakers and interactions with community organizations online

Students will be engaged in academically stimulating and engaging activities designed to develop higher-level thinking skills. To be successful in the course, a student should have a keen interest in the subject, be eager to work through academic challenges, and have a desire to learn in an online environment.

Students should expect to spend 4-5 hours per day engaged in course activities. Our dedicated instructors will initiate and guide online lessons and discussions. Students should possess effective communication skills, including proficient reading and writing skills, and feel comfortable asking questions to guide their learning. The course syllabi will guide pacing, and instructional staff office hours are available to help students process content and stay on track. 
Online class sessions will occur at a consistent time throughout the course, Mondays - Fridays. When attendance is not possible, students can access recordings of real-time class sessions any time after they occur.
After each daily class session, students will have the opportunity to provide short feedback so instructional staff and program administrators can monitor student progress and adjust teaching methods accordingly to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Course Access and Orientation

Schoology, the learning management system used by CTD, is a user-friendly platform designed specifically for K-12 online learners, and is COPPA compliant.

Students will receive login information to Schoology via e-mail 24-48 hours before the course start date.

With their login information, students will receive information about a live, online orientation for all new Online Program students. (Returning students are also welcome to repeat the orientation.) The orientation will be recorded for students to view at a later time, if desired.

Access to course material begins on the course start date.

Evaluations and Service Hours


All students receive a detailed 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. Evaluations are sent via e-mail and able to be accessed via MyCTD.

Service Hours

Student evaluations include certification of service hours earned. Learn more about service hours awarded by CEP programs.

CEP is happy to complete any forms required for students to show proof of completed service hours; contact our office for assistance. 

Technology Requirements

All course work and communication (including instructor contact information, the course syllabus, and assignments) take place within the Schoology course site. Schoology can be accessed on a desktop or laptop computer, or with the Schoology mobile app for iOS or Android tablets and phones. While tablets may be sufficient for most course work, some web tools and/or websites may require the use of a computer.

Students need access to a stable internet connection and updated web browser.

Participation in “live” course activities or multimedia recordings may require a computer web camera, microphone or headset.

Contact Us
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Taking Action: Leadership and Service

Explore issues that affect young people, connect with emerging leaders and take action on a cause that inspires you!

Apply Today!


"Everyone knows social issues exist and wants to help—this course teaches you how to do so.”
– Taking Action Student

Get Started on Your Journey to Taking Action.

If you have found the program and course for you, we’d love for you to apply.

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