Summer Youth Institute

2018 Summer Youth Institute: July 21-29| Applications Now Open 

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About the Summer Youth Institute

Since 2010, when a racially diverse group of young people from communities across Mississippi came to Winter Institute and Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute staff with a desire to help their communities, SYI has evolved into a nine-day experiential learning program.

At SYI, rising high school sophomores and juniors learn about civil rights, advocacy, critical thinking and relationship building from an international staff.

SYI educates 28 young Mississippi citizens each year. They learn to exercise their voices and leadership potential and to embrace a commitment to social change; and they become community advocates, inspiring their schools and hometowns.

Each year we learn much more about how to provide a galvanizing experience for young people, who critique and analyze the program at the end of each nine-day experience to help us perfect it.


SYI emphasizes four cornerstones: Relationship Building, History, Diversity, and Civic Engagement

The program has six primary objectives:

  1. Build understanding of concepts and use of tools for relationship building and trust building (listening, dialogue, etc.) in Mississippi’s youth
  2. Increase awareness, understanding and need of myriad types of diversity and interculturalism in a local, state, national and global context
  3. Expand knowledge of and appreciation for Mississippi Civil Rights history and its relationship to movements around the nation and world
  4. Impart the principles of conflict transformation and interdependence and how to apply these principles in real-life situations
  5. Illustrate for students the fundamentals of civic and community engagement
  6. Inculcate in SYI students an enduring anti-racism and racial reconciliation perspective to bring to personal and professional situations throughout their lives


  • No student shall be accepted into a class of the Summer Youth Institute without having submitted a complete application by the publicized due date. Due date may change at the discretion of Summer Youth Institute co-directors.
  • No student shall be admitted into a class of the Summer Youth Institute without satisfactory participation in the interview process.
  • No student shall attend the Summer Youth Institute without completely and correctly filling out all necessary paperwork.



The strength of the Summer Youth Institute relies on the commitment of its students. Participants must be: committed to creating a safe space; open to different opinions and ideas; enthusiastic about contributing honestly and respectfully; able to attend the entirety of the Summer Youth Institute (July 21-29); and ready to complete 2-3 update forms/evaluations post-program.

Application and Selection Process

The Summer Youth Institution’s application process is two-fold. Interested students must complete the online application and satisfactorily participate in a group phone interview. Summer Youth Institute co-directors review all applications and conduct interview students.

Twenty-eight students are accepted into each Summer Youth Institute class. These students represent Mississippi’s different regions, schools, socio-economic statuses, religions, and racial and ethnic groups. They are given a residential college experience on the University of Mississippi’s campus, learn leadership and civil engagement skills through a civil rights history framework, go on experiential learning field trips, earn community service hours, all while forming lasting bonds with peers in the program.


The eighth Summer Youth Institute takes place July 21-29, 2018. Accepted students must attend the entirety of the program.


Parent Safety Concern

The selected students and their guardians are sent a packet of information upon acceptance. This informational packet contains a set of age-appropriate rules that must be signed by student and guardian(s), liability and media waivers, medical forms, and other documents. The only punishment for breech of rules is immediate dismissal from the program. All staff that work with the program’s students have completed background checks. Students are accounted for 24 hours day during the program, and the residence hall where they are housed is secure.


Due to grants and the generosity of donors, the Summer Youth Institute is made absolutely free for all selected students. In addition to providing housing and all meals (beginning with dinner on the first day and lunch on the last day), all students receive a program t-shirt and L.L. Bean backpack filled with program related materials/swag. Programs of similar caliber cost families more than $2500 per child, per session. The Summer Youth Institute prides itself on offering such a high quality program available free of charge to Mississippi’s youth.

While the program is completely free to accepted students, parents/guardians of students are responsible for getting their students to and from Oxford, Mississippi. The Summer Youth Institute cannot arrange transportation to and from the program.

For additional information, please contact:

Vondaris Gordon, Youth Engagement Coordinator/Summer Youth Institute Co-Director


See Our 2015 Summer Youth Institute Daily Schedule HERE