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The Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service (the Summer Academy), a residential and commuter program for gifted, talented, and high-potential high school and college students, will hold its inaugural session Sunday, June 28–Saturday, July 11, 2020, on the campus of Virginia Union University. The Summer Academy’s purpose is to bolster diversity and to help its graduates enter the academic pipelines for policy-related programs in Richmond and beyond. Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, recent high school graduates, and college students admitted to the Summer Academy will take part in an engaging and challenging educational program, including hands-on experiences. Their learning, focused on real-world policy issues, will offer them opportunities to research, design, and conduct significant policy-related projects.

The Summer Academy will combine fun with intensive learning. Each rigorous but rewarding two-week session will be taught by top professors, policy experts, and leading decision-makers. Participants will be introduced to policy formation and analysis, economics, public administration, research methods, and statistics, as well as critical thinking, advocacy, and effective, readable writing. (Course contact hours will exceed those in a standard 16-week (3 credit- hour) semester course.)

The curriculum consists of fourteen interlocking modules organized around policy matters that guide course offerings and lesson plans that include lectures, case studies, practical and hands-on activities, group projects, and workshops that enhance research, critical thinking, and writing skills.

The Summer Academy is a full-time two-week program. Attendance in all program activities is required. Participants will reside in Virginia Union University dormitories, receiving all meals on campus during weekdays and two meals per day on weekends. While in residence, participants may not entertain friends or family members and should free themselves of outside obligations and distractions.


Applications are due Friday, May 1, 2020. Late applications will be considered on a space-available basis.


The application fee is $70; it is non-refundable and does not apply to tuition.

Tuition for each two-week session for residential students, includes all instructional materials, room, and meals, is $2,200.

Tuition for commuter students, includes all instructional materials and meals, is $1,500.

We can offer limited financial assistance based on need. We encourage candidates to seek funding help from sponsoring organizations, family members, and friends.



The Summer Academy seeks rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors; recent high school graduates, community college students, and undergraduate students who strive for academic excellence through hard work. Each two-week session will be comprised of about sixty students. The admissions committee seeks a well-balanced cohort that is diverse and inclusive, and whose members will interact well, and meaningfully, with each other and with their teachers.

Successful applicants will

  • be 15 to 25 years old by June 28, 2020
  • submit a completed application by May 1, 2020, including:
  • Statement of Interest, discussing in students’ own words why they are applying.
  • Recommendation Letter from an adult familiar with applicants’ interests, academic or volunteer work, or community involvement. (In special cases, applicants may recommend themselves.)
  • Grades, extracurricular activities, and community service will be considered.
  • Standardized test scores are not required but may be submitted for consideration.