website shit.jpg

Taking place at Christopher Newport University, VA21's Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) is a five-day, advanced, residential training academy designed to equip student leaders with the information, tools, and skills to make a difference in state politics


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. 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 lead to practical applications.

Students will take what they learn and engage their knowledge to craft an advocacy 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.



The SLI program gives students the education they need to become effective leaders and advocates for their issues. Past sessions have included:

  • Navigating the Political Landscape of Richmond

  • Lobbying like a Boss

  • How to Affect the Legislative Process in Virginia

  • Strategic Communications and Planning

  • Inclusive Leadership

  • Advocacy for Everyday People

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 talented Virginians together to shape our students into the leaders we need them to be.


Want to know what you'll get out of SLI? Read the testimonials from previous graduates:

“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.” – Will Morgan-Palmer, 2013 Graduate

“Through SLI, I learned how to lobby, how to organize, and how to channel my passion into an effective, compelling message. This program show me how to use my leadership for the greater good and fight for those who haven't had the same opportunities” – Zöe Craig, 2016 Graduate,


In order to attend SLI, the applicant must:

1. Be an incoming or returning undergraduate student enrolled at a public, four-year Virginia institution, or Richard Bland College. If your institution is not included, email and ask how your school can become eligible.

2. Be a current or prospective member of Virginia21. However, if selected to participate, the applicant must commit to participate in VA21 activities for the next academic year. SLI teaches leadership and participation.  We are asking you for action–writing op-eds, communicating with legislators, talking to your peers, involvement with our Student Leadership Committee, etc.

3. 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 18th–22nd, 2018.

5. Pay the admission fee for Virginia21’s Student Leadership Institute, which is $150. Participants may apply for scholarships up to $100.

Please send questions to our Director of Engagement, Tim Cywinski, at Second round application period is open until April 10th, 2018. What are you waiting for?