Summer Leadership Institute (July 26-30)

SLI is a five-day advanced residential training program where we prepare our campus leaders for our education and advocacy efforts throughout the year. We equip students with the information, tools, and leadership skills to make a difference in their communities now and in the future. The program takes place at Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

Program Highlights

Across the five-day span of our Summer Leadership Institute, participants will grow through a host of interactions with people who are experts at what they do and leaders in their own right. Whether it’s gaining hands-on communications skills from media specialists or learning the tips and tricks of how lobbyists get their clients what they want, sessions are designed to be interactive and draw on real life experiences.

Students will take what they learn and engage their knowledge to craft a research project that will help them tackle the greatest issues facing young people.  They will also gain coveted access to elected officials and top business leaders before closing out the summit with a team-building trip.


Our program creates sessions that give students the education they need to become effective leaders and advocates for their issues.  Past sessions have included:

  • Understanding the political landscape of Richmond
  • The Evolution of Higher Education Policy
  • Lobbying like a Boss
  • The Legislative Process and How it Really Works
  • Media and Communications Training

These sessions are taught by experts in their respective fields and combined with other workshops and panel discussions to create a summit of engagement.  We bring the best of Virginian’s leadership together to shape our students into the leaders we need them to be.

Why should I apply?

Want to know why to apply? Read the testimonials from our 2013 graduating class:

“I went into SLI not really knowing what to expect. I began my affiliation with Virginia21 with the belief that college students can actually make a difference in the Commonwealth, and at SLI we learned about the steps to actually accomplishing that.” – SLI Graduate Will Morgan-Palmer


“I was excited to find out there was such a great support system within the Virignia21 student leadership and was glad to be able to become friends with many of them. It’s a passionately motivated group that works very hard for three days shaping the initiative of Virginia21’s upcoming year.” – SLI Graduate Karen Tirelis


In order to attend SLI, the applicant must:

  1. Be an incoming or returning undergraduate student enrolled at a public, four-year Virginia institution, Richard Bland College, Bridgewater College, or Piedmont Virginia Community College. (If your institution is not included, email and ask how your school can become eligible).
  2. Applicants may be current or prospective members of Virginia21. However, if selected to participate, the applicant must commit to participating in VA21’s activities for the next academic year.  SLI teaches leadership and participation.  We are asking you for action–writing Letters to the Editor, communicating w/ legislators, talking to your peers, involvement with our Student Leadership Committee, etc.
  3. May not graduate before May of 2018 (December 2017 graduates are not eligible).
  4. Be able to attend all sessions and activities for the entirety of the Summer Leadership Institute from July 26–30, 2017.
  5. The cost of attending Virginia21’s Student Leadership Institute is $150. Participants may apply for scholarships up to $100.

How do I apply?

A.  Please fill out this application and answer all questions.

B.  Submit a current resume via email to with the subject line “SLI Application: First Name Last Name”.


Applicants who qualify will be contacted for interviews on a rolling basis.  All applicants will receive a final decision by May of 2017.

Questions before you start?  Please contact James Morton at or 757-572-6367.