Wednesday, July 22 - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The ACLU National Advocacy Institute’s High School Program will bring together a diverse group of high school students (ages 15-18) from across the United States to participate in a week-long, firsthand learning experience for the next generation of social justice advocates.

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Through an intensive program in Washington D.C., 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. The program will culminate in meetings with elected officials and/or congressional staff on Capitol Hill, and an issue rally to bring attention to a cause selected by the 2020 cohort. (High School Program, in previous years, was known as the ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute.)

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.
  • Visiting our nation’s capital and DC-area college campuses, tour key historic sites, museums, and college campuses in the Washington, D.C. area.

Wednesday, July 22 - Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Washington, D.C.

High school-aged students who are 15-18* years old are welcome to apply. (*Graduating high school seniors, class of 2020, are eligible to apply for the high school program. High school graduates are eligible to apply for the College and Community Program for college-aged students.)

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).

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 a letter of recommendation

Early Decision: Applications are due December 15th and successful candidates will be notified by January 8th

Priority Decision: Applications are due February 16th and successful candidates will be notified by March 11th

Regular Decision: Applications are due April 5th and successful candidates will be notified by April 22nd

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). 

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.

A tuition fee of $2,300 per student covers all experiential learning activities, lodging, off-campus social events, and student meals. Transportation costs are not included in this program’s tuition.

Transportation to and from Washington, D.C., can be arranged by our partner organization, The Close Up Foundation, for an additional cost. Information regarding travel arrangements can be found in the Transportation section of the FAQs.

Our full FAQ can be found here.

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