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ASL Translation for Washington, D.C. Program Overview

Sunday July 21st – Saturday July 27th, ages 15-18 *including graduating seniors.

The ACLU National Advocacy Institute’s High School Program will convene in Washington, D.C. for an in-person gathering of high school students (ages 15-18) from across the United States to participate in a week-long learning experience for the next generation of social justice advocates.

Students will engage directly with ACLU lawyers, lobbyists, community activists, and other experts working to defend the civil rights and civil liberties that are critical to a free and open society. Through classroom sessions, lectures, site visits, and policy discussions, students will explore the complex nature of issue advocacy, legal strategy, and real-world political decision making in Washington, D.C. as well as return home with advocacy tools to make change in their community.

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ASL Translation for Key Program Elements

  • Electivescovering the ACLU’s wide array of issue areas, taught by communications experts, organizers, lawyers, policy advocates, and other professional staff from the ACLU and partner organizations.
  • Daily seminars in small groups to explore social justice and civil liberties issues.
  • Life-long connections and support structures with otheryoung activists from across the country.
  • A Day of Action –collective advocacy on Capitol Hill to move the needle on one or more pressing civil liberties issues before legislators at that very moment! In the past we’ve conducted lobby visits with members of Congress, held rallies at the Capitol, and conducted phone/text banking and Letter to the Editor (LTE) writing campaigns, etc., — covering topics like immigration, systemic equality and anti-racism, ending censorship in education, regulating facial recognition technology, and the protection of trans rights. This is not an exercise but a real opportunity to make your voices heard!
  • Boosting political knowledge and campaign abilities, learn more about mobilizing issue-based advocacy campaigns, growing a team, identifying a strategy for engaging with policy-makers, and maximizing impact for the issues that drive you.

The ACLU Advocacy Institute is looking for students who demonstrate a keen interest in civil liberties issues and social justice advocacy. Students are not required to have previous familiarity with civil liberties issues or advocacy methodologies. However, students who are already deeply immersed in civil liberties issues and or advocacy will have the opportunity to deepen their skill-set and expand their organizing network.

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ASL Translation for Housing & Dining

Students stay in dorm-like facilities at American University in Washington, D.C and are overseen by staff that are largely made up of program alumni. Roommates are assigned by gender identity, age, and geographic diversity but students are welcome to request a specific roommate through our Program Form after acceptance. Building security and residential staff are present in the residence halls and available to students 24/7.

Students will eat most of their meals in the university dining hall, that serve a wide-variety of menu items. Dining halls are able to accommodate a range of dietary restrictions including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, halal, and kosher.

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ASL Translation for Admissions

The ACLU values a diverse Institute audience and strives to build an inclusive culture of belonging. We encourage applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, citizenship, disability, and record of arrest or conviction, or any other personal identity characteristic. We are committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability and have any questions or need assistance applying online, please email institute@aclu.org.

Students are required to complete the following requirements before the application deadline for the admissions committee to consider the student for the program.

  1. Submit a completed online application
  2. Submit letter of recommendation
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ASL Translation for Application Timeline

The admissions process for the program is built around two application deadlines: Early Decision and Regular Decision. All applications received after Regular Decision will be considered on a rolling-basis. Preference will be given to students who submit their applications during the Early Decision deadline. Students will hear from the admissions committee within three weeks after the deadline. Once students are accepted, they will be required to complete a registration form and submit a non-refundable deposit approximately two weeks after notification of the admissions decision (students receiving scholarships must complete the enrollment form within this two-week period).

  • Early Decision: Sunday March 3rd
  • Regular Decision: Sunday April 14th

All applications received on April 15th or later will be considered on a rolling-basis.

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ASL Translation for Financial Aid

The ACLU is committed to providing scholarship opportunities for students who qualify based on family income. A limited supply of full and partial scholarships are available. Financial aid awards are based on need. Students must apply for Financial Aid at the same time as the Program Application. Students will receive their program admissions decision and financial aid decision at the same time.

Please complete the separate financial aid application and include your application number.

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ASL Translation for Tuition & Fees

Tuition for the In-person Program is $2,700 per student. This fee covers lodging and food, as well as all experiential learning activities, and social events.

Our full FAQ page can be found here.

Kerry Washington

Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe Nominated Actor, Director, Producer, and Activist

A photo of Kerry Washington.

Kerry Washington is a lifelong advocate and activist. She is dedicated to using her voice to support a healthy and fully participatory democracy by ensuring that all eligible Americans—particularly those who have been historically underrepresented—are engaged and empowered to affect change in their community. She is currently a co-chair of Mrs. Obama’s When We All Vote campaign and the Founder of Influence Change 2020, a strategic initiative that partners with high impact, non profit organizations to increase voter turnout.

Elyse Steinberg, Eli Despres, Joshua Kriegman

Directors/ Producers of Weiner

A photo of Elyse Steinberg, Eli Despres, Joshua Kriegman.

Weiner, a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner and BAFTA Award nominee was shortlisted for an Academy Award. Steinberg and Kriegman were co-directors/producers (nominated for a DGA Award), and Despres was the editor and writer. Together, they created, co-directed, and executive produced the critically acclaimed Showtime docu-series Couples Therapy, which made numerous critics top-ten lists for 2019 and has just been renewed for its second season.

Anthony Romero

Executive Director, ACLU

A photo of Anthony Romero.

Anthony D. Romero is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation’s foremost guardian of liberty for nearly 100 years. Under his leadership, the ACLU has grown into a nationwide organization of more than a million members, activists, and supporters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. READ MORE

Jeff Robinson

Former Deputy Legal Director, ACLU

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Jeffery Robinson was Deputy Legal Director and the director of the ACLU Trone Center for Justice and Equality, from 2015-2021. In 2021, Jeff founded the Who We Are project, dedicated to urging this nation to confront its racist legacy and to move toward reparations.