View our new brochure for the high-school program in PDF form here.


Cultural Leadership students participate in an intensive year of over 420 hours of programming, including cultural activities, dialogue sessions, travel/study, public speaking, leadership training, and facilitated discussions on diversity and creating social change. Through these activities, students gain an increased awareness of their own and each other’s history, religion, and culture, and learn valuable skills for facilitating discussions, solving problems, and making change. Cultural Leadership is training the next generation of civil rights advocates and activists, or as we fondly call, “troublemakers of the best kind!”


Click here for a detailed list of the current year's programs.


Watch this video created by HEC-TV to learn more about the Cultural Leadership year-long experience.

Our Year...

Starting in August, students and families kick off the year with a Welcome Party. Continuing to December, students meet monthly to learn about history, culture, and contemporary issues. The opening weekend retreat sets the foundation for the group's year-long activities. Students participate in activities focused on self-awareness and identity, and begin to learn about the concept of privilege and oppression. An important part of the year is the School Swap that takes place in the fall. Students learn first-hand about the civil rights issue of this generation— education inequity. Parents also participate in two to three programs that teach similar concepts.


January through May, students spend learning the core skills needed to bring about change in their communities: leadership, facilitation, and community organizing. The January retreat teaches students facilitation skills and students host a practice session inviting guests to participate in Courageous Conversations. Workshops in the spring teach students how to engage others in supporting their passion. At the April retreat, students learn about successful activists and change agents, and begin to explore what it will mean for them to become change agents. Students and families participate in a Holiday Swap experiencing a Passover Seder dinner or an Easter Sunday service. Students begin to take on a more high-profile leadership role as they go into schools, houses of worship, and community centers to speak and facilitate discussions with their peers on issues of discrimination and social justice.


During the month of June, students take a 21-day trip, we call the Transformational Journey, travelling to places in the U.S. of civil rights and social justice significance, including New York City; Washington D.C.; Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuskegee and Selma, AL; Little Rock, AR; several cities in Mississippi; Whitwell and Memphis, TN. They meet and visit people and organizations that have made — and are still making – significant contributions to improving society. Adult trip leaders accompany and supervise the students and facilitate nightly discussions.


In July and August, students and their families meet to process and reflect upon the Transformational Journey as well as their yearlong experience. Students hone their speechmaking skills and are ready to Stand Up, Speak Out, and Take Action! To conclude Cultural Leadership, students graduate in a ceremony that highlights their experience, their journey, and their growth. Everyone is welcome to attend.


Application and Selection Process

Each year, a diverse group of 24-30 high-school students are selected to participate in Cultural Leadership. Interested high-school freshmen and sophomores, must submit a completed application form, two letters of recommendation, a photo of themselves, a copy of their high-school transcript (unofficial), and a signed Cultural Leadership Agreement.


Based upon their application, promising students are invited to a group interview. Final selections are based on a student’s application and interview. Applications for the 2017-2018 program year will be available in January 2017, but please click here for more information on the application process.



Cultural leadership is an investment in a student’s leadership skills and cultural understanding.


Funding from our broad base of corporations, foundations, and individuals enables Cultural Leadership to set tuition at $2,500 per student. Tuition includes eight student programs, lodging and training at three weekend retreats, two intensive workshops, and food, lodging, transportation, and fees during the three-week summer trip. Tuition also covers six parent programs during the year.


Need-based partial grants are available upon acceptance into the program, and families who qualify may request a tuition payment plan. Students are also supported in fundraising part of their tuition. A non-refundable deposit of $100 is due upon acceptance.


Nominate Someone for Cultural Leadership

Nominations for Class 13 are now open. If you know a curious, courageous, change-the-world-type teen who has leadership potential, an interest in social justice, and a commitment to participate, let us know and we will send him or her an application packet when they become available! To nominate a student, please send an email to with...

  1. your name
  2. the student’s name
  3. the student's email address
  4. the student's high school, and
  5. the reason you are nominating him or her


Additional Resources