ACLU Summer Institute

Photos from ACLU Summer Institute 2016

Program Overview

From free speech to privacy and from mass incarceration to voting rights, students will become experts on the issues currently being confronted in the United States’ courts and political arena.

The ACLU’s Summer Advocacy Institute will bring together a diverse group of students entering their junior and senior years of high school from across the United States to participate in an advanced, firsthand learning experience for the next generation of social justice advocates. Through an intensive 8-day program, students will learn directly from lawyers, lobbyists, community activists, and other experts working to defend the civil rights and liberties critical to a free and open society. The Close Up Foundation — a DC-based civic-education nonprofit — will serve as a partner with the ACLU to provide substantive experiential learning opportunities that help students hone their skills as issue-focused campaigners.

In classroom sessions, lectures, and daily debates, students will explore the complex nature of defending and advancing civil liberties as well as examine the importance of these freedoms in our current society. Students will be immersed in the real world of political and legal decision making in Washington, D.C., meeting with elected officials and/or congressional staff and community organizers as well as participating in workshops with civil rights pioneers and other current youth activists.

Download a Sample Program Agenda (2017) 

*Final 2018 agenda subject to change.

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2016 Speakers Included:

Cristina Jiménez,
United We Dream Network’s Co-Founder and Executive Director

Cristina Jiménez is co-founder and managing director of the United We Dream Network, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the country. The organization, which is made up of over 100,000 immigrant youth and allies, has been a critical force in addressing immigration inequities across the country. Originally from Ecuador, Cristina came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 13, attending high school and college as an undocumented student. She was recently named among Forbes' “30 under 30 in Law and Policy,” one of “21 immigration reform power players” and one of 5 non-profit leaders who will influence public policy by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Read more

Ben Wizner,
Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project

Ben Wizner is the Director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project. For nearly fifteen years, he has worked at the intersection of civil liberties and national security, litigating numerous cases involving airport security policies, government watch lists, surveillance practices, targeted killing, and torture. He appears regularly in the global media, has testified before Congress, and is an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law. Since July of 2013, he has been the principal legal advisor to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Ben is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law and was a law clerk to the Hon. Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Read more

Gara LaMarche,
President of the Democracy Alliance

Gara LaMarche is President of The Democracy Alliance, a group of donors and movement leaders who provide millions of dollars to strengthen progressive organizations, causes and campaigns. A longtime advocate for human rights and social justice, from 2007 to 2011, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic Philanthropies, an international foundation focused on aging, children and youth, health, and human rights operating in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States, and Viet Nam. During his tenure at Atlantic, the foundation made the largest grant ever made by a foundation for an advocacy campaign – over $25 million – to press for comprehensive health care reform in the U.S.

Dale Ho,
Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project

Dale Ho is the Director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project. His work includes litigation to combat voter suppression and legislative advocacy to open new opportunities for participation for the historically disenfranchised. Dale supervises the ACLU's voting rights litigation nationwide, with active cases in over a dozen states throughout the country. He has litigated cases under the federal Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. Dale has testified on election reforms in various state legislatures around the country, and is a frequent commentator on voting rights issues. He is an adjunct professor of law at NYU School of Law, and is widely published on redistricting and voting rights in journals including Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the Florida Law Review, and the University of Richmond Law Review. Read more

Hina Shamsi,
Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project

Hina Shamsi is the Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, which is dedicated to ensuring that U.S. national security policies and practices are consistent with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights. She has litigated cases upholding the freedoms of speech and association, and challenging targeted killing, torture, unlawful detention, and post-9/11 discrimination against racial and religious minorities. Read more

2018 Speakers will be announced soon. Check back for updates.


ACLU Summer Institute 2017 group

Workshops:

2017 Off-site Visits Included:

Museum visits:

  • Newseum: The Newseum, headquartered in Washington, D.C., promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Since opening in 2008, more than 7 million have visited its modern building located on historic Pennsylvania Avenue between the United States Capitol and the White House. The Newseum’s seven levels of interactive exhibits include 15 galleries and 15 theaters. Among the most memorable exhibits are the 9/11 Gallery Sponsored by Comcast, featuring the broadcast antennae from the top of the World Trade Center; the Berlin Wall Gallery, whose eight concrete sections are one of the largest pieces of the original wall outside Germany; and the Pulitzer Prize Photographs Gallery, which features photographs from every Pulitzer Prize-winning entry dating back to 1942.
     
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture: The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans.
     
  • The National Museum of Natural History: The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s preeminent museum and research complex. The Museum is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery, and learning about the natural world through its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions, and education outreach programs. Opened in 1910, the green-domed museum on the National Mall was among the first Smithsonian building constructed exclusively to house the national collections and research facilities.
     
  • The National Museum of American History- The National Museum of American History collects and preserves more than 3 million artifacts—all true national treasures. We take care of everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Our collections form a fascinating mosaic of American life and comprise the greatest single collection of American history.

2017 D.C. College Campus Visit (Unofficial Tour):

Georgetown University is one of the world’s leading academic and research institutions, offering a unique educational experience that prepares the next generation of global citizens to lead and make a difference in the world. We are a vibrant community of exceptional students, faculty, alumni and professionals dedicated to real-world applications of our research, scholarship, faith and service.

Potomac River Cruise


Admissions

The 2018 application is now live! 

Apply Now

Eligibility

  1. Students must be entering their junior or senior year of high school.
  2. Have a strong interest in social justice, civil liberties, and advocacy.

Tuition & Fees: Room & Board

A tuition fee of $2,895 per student covers all experiential learning activities, off-campus social events, and all student meals, with the exception of those off-campus excursions where students are given supervised free time to explore and eat on their own. Transportation to and from Washington, D.C. is not included in the tuition fee. Travel can be arranged by Close Up, and information regarding travel arrangements will be included in acceptance material. Scholarships are available.


Contact Us

Email: summerinstitute@aclu.org

Hotline: (703) 706-3555

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