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july  26th-30th

The Program

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.


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.


Our program gives 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
  • Inclusive Leadership

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 why to apply? 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.” – SLI Graduate Will Morgan-Palmer

“I was excited to find out there was such a great support system within the Virgnia21 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, Bridgewater College, Randolph-Macon College, Piedmont Virginia Community College, or Richard Bland 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 participate in VA21 activities for the next academic year.  SLI teaches leadership and participation.  We are asking you for action–writing op-eds, 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.

Please send questions to or call (757) 572-6367.

Deadline to apply for second round is May 12th. What are you waiting for?