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ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute
The ACLU is a non-profit organization that has worked for nearly 100 years to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
The ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute will bring together a diverse group of students from across the United States to participate in a week-long, firsthand learning experience for the next generation of social justice advocates.
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 2019 cohort.
Financial aid and scholarships (full and partial) are available!
What draws teens to your program?
We provide students with substantive experiential learning opportunities that help them hone their skills as issue-focused campaigners. Students who attend the summer program are civil rights pioneers and gain the skills and attributes to make a difference in their communities.
What type of teen attends your program?
The ACLU Summer 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 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).
Where do your participants come from?
Students come from all across the U.S.!
What's a typical day like?
Our unique program has an academically and socially rigorous schedule that runs from 9:00 am - 10:00 pm daily. Students participate in both large group and small group activities. Large group activities include a combination of lectures, seminars, and keynote speakers.
Students will have elective options throughout the week 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.
We also offer off-site visits to DC's monuments and museums as well as fun social evening activities!
What should participants expect to learn or take away from your program?
Students will be given a rare experience to hear from and speak with ACLU lawyers, lobbyists and community activists, as well as representatives and staffers on Capitol Hill. Students will take home the skills and knowledge to make a difference in their own communities and make life-long connections and support structures with other young activists from across the country.
How does your program stand out?
Students who participate in our program have the unique opportunity to meet and speak directly with ACLU lawyers, lobbyists, and activists who work on various social justice issues. Throughout the week-long program, students will be able to not only hear from these experts, but share their own stories and ask questions! The program culminates with legislative meetings and a rally on Capitol Hill.
What are past participants saying about your program?
The following quotes are taken from real and authentic testimonials from our former institute attendees:
"I came out of the program feeling incredibly inspired! I am excited to bring home and share my increased interest and passion for building change!"
"It was a truly formative experience and I can't wait to come back again!"
"I had an absolutely life-changing experience last summer, and it’s something I’ll honestly never forget. I learned how to be a more caring and accepting person, while simultaneously learning how to stick up for those who are underserved."
"It was a life changing experience for me and it really inspired me to just keep educating myself and learning all that I can to help make a difference in myself and the world around me."
"A sincere thanks to the Summer Institute. It was an eye-opening experience on the US Justice System, the bail system, systematic corruption and government surveillance. The protest we held was invigorating, my program leader was an inspiring figure, as were the speeches and seminars. A lot of the information learned during the program has been quite useful not just in my American Government studies but in my political discussions and plans for the future."
"My daughter came home beaming about here time during the Summer Program. It was such a great experience for her."
"We had several students from our school attended your summer institute and every one of them has told me what an amazing, life-changing experience it was. They talked about the inspirational speakers, the fun activities, and how eye-opening it was for them to meet students of all races and background who are activists."
"The ACLU program allowed me the remarkable opportunity to see our nation's capital this summer. I learned much more about our nation's government, and my view widened politically. I had the opportunity to make friends with other students who were politically inclined like myself and made some friendships that I'll be continuing. My Summer Institute experience has helped me discover options for my future plans."
"I had an amazing summer at the ACLU Summer Institute. Particularly, the seminars and lectures, they were very eye-opening and extremely inspiring."
"I came out of the program feeling incredibly inspired! I can't wait to return home and share my experiences with all my friends and family."
"The experience was more than I had hoped for. The activities discussed mirrored many of the subjects I have been interested in. It was exciting to be with a group of peers who cared about the same issues that I did and looked like me. I hope to find ways to continue to work on advancing social justice and civil rights issues."