Monday, July 19 - Friday, July 23, 2021

The ACLU National Advocacy Institute’s High School Program will convene a virtual 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.

Return to ACLU AdvoCacy Institute


Through a virtual intensive program, students will learn directly from lawyers, lobbyists, community activists, and other experts working to defend the civil rights and civil liberties critical to a free and open society. In classroom sessions, lectures, and policy debates, students will explore the complex nature of issue advocacy, legal strategy, and real world political decision making in Washington, D.C. 

Key program elements will include:

  • Electives covering the ACLU’s wide array of issue areas, taught by communications experts, lawyers, policy advocates, and other professional organizing 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 other young activists from across the country.
  • 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.

Monday, July 19 - Friday, July 23, 2021
Virtual Program

High school-aged students who are 15-18* years old are welcome to apply. (*You must have completed one year of high school by July 2021 to be eligible. The graduating class of 2021 is encouraged to apply) Students currently enrolled as college freshmen and higher should apply for the College and Community Program.

The High School Program 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 (and those students who are already deeply immersed in civil liberties issues/advocacy will have a unique opportunity to deepen their skill-set and expand their organizing network).

The ACLU values a diverse Institute audience and an inclusive culture. 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 e-mail 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

The admissions process for the program is built around three application deadlines: Early Decision, Priority Decision, and Regular Decision. Preference will be given to students who submit their applications during the Early Decision and Priority Decision deadlines. Students will hear from the admissions committee within three weeks of the deadline. Once students are accepted, they will be required to submit 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: February 14th
  • Priority Decision: March 14th
  • Regular Decision: April 18th

The ACLU is committed to providing scholarship opportunities for students who qualify based on family income. Full and partial scholarships will be 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.

The tuition fee for the Virtual Program is $250 per students  which covers all experiential learning activities, and social events

Our full FAQ can be found here.

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