The Civic Leadership Institute is a 3-week summer service-learning program for outstanding high school students run by the Civic Education Project at Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development.

CLI combines hands-on education, meaningful service, powerful speakers and seminars, and an unforgettable residential experience for a summer that students describe as "life-changing."

Challenge Your Thinking

Explore current social and political issues in a hands-on, engaging learning environment. Build your awareness and opinions by developing your critical thinking skills through dialogue and debate. View a sample syllabus.

"The most important thing I have gained from this course is an open mind." -CLI Student

Make a Difference

Through meaningful, eye-opening service experiences, the city becomes your classroom.

Several times a week, engage in service projects that span neighborhoods, organizations, and approaches to addressing social problems. Service projects are integrated within CLI curriculum units.

Urban poverty: Prepare and serve a meal at a community center and learn about the root causes of homelessness.

Youth: Lead games at a summer camp for kids and gain knowledge about child welfare policies.

Advocacy: Explore restorative justice practices with legal scholars.

Community development: Conduct outreach for a neighborhood improvement plan to support small businesses.

"I learned anyone, no matter their age, is capable of making a difference." -CLI Student

Practice Leadership

Gain confidence in communicating your ideas and develop your leadership strengths and style. Through small group work and activities, gain experience in teamwork and problem-solving.

Become Inspired

Choose an issue you're passionate about in your community, and throughout your time at CLI make an action plan to address it. See recent CLI student action plan topics.

Experience Community

Live and learn in diverse class and residential groups of peers from across the country and around the world.

Staff mentors help build a safe and supportive environment that fosters community, growth, and self-discovery.

"Every moment here has been amazing. I will keep this experience forever in my memory." -CLI Student
"Attending CLI is one of the best choices I have ever made. The community is welcoming, friendly, inclusive and warm." -CLI Student

CLI Campuses

CLI is offered at two world-class university campuses, combing the best of a pre-college experience with exploration of a vibrant city.

Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

Johns Hopkins University's Peabody Campus is situated in Baltimore's historic Mount Vernon neighborhood. Home to Johns Hopkins' music conservatory, the campus provides the atmosphere of a small, private university amid the diversity and excitement of an urban setting.

CLI Baltimore students also take a day trip to Washington DC.

Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)

Northwestern University's Evanston Campus is a beautiful 240 acres on the shore of Lake Michigan, showcasing cutting-edge facilities, lakefront paths and beaches, and views of the Chicago skyline. CLI academic and residential activities offer students an unparalleled opportunity to explore both Evanston and Chicago.

"CLI has been one of the most defining experiences of my life." -CLI Student

Join us online in 2020!