College & Communities Conference in New York City for high-school graduates (ages 18-24).

Friday August 2nd – Monday August 5th

The ACLU Colleges & Communities Advocacy Institute will convene in New York City at NYU Law Center for a gathering of high school graduates (ages 18-24) from across the United States to participate in a long-weekend learning experience for the next generation of social justice advocates, focused on early career development.

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, and policy discussions, students will leave with a deep understanding of working in the careers of law, advocacy, and non-profit management, as well as return home with honed professional skills to aid them in their early career.

Electives covering 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.
  • Professional Development Workshops like resume reviewing and mock interviewing.
  • 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.


The program is open to graduated high school students (aged 18-24). Students must be 18 years old by the first day of the program.

The ACLU Advocacy Institute is looking for students who demonstrate a keen interest in civil liberties issues and social justice advocacy. While an interested in a related future career in advocacy, law, or non-profit management is recommended, students are not required to have previous familiarity with civil liberties issues or advocacy methodologies.

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

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

All applications are considered on a rolling-basis. Applicants can expect to receive a notification of admissions roughly 3 weeks after submitting. 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).

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.

Tuition for the In-person Program is $250 per student. This covers conference fee, tuition, food, as well as the travel in between and all experiential learning activities, and social events. Students that are seeking accommodations during their conference may elect to book through a courtesy hotel block or find their own accommodations. Please note that financial aid scholarships for the Colleges & Communities Program will assume accommodations are needed.