2016 Summer Youth Institute: June 11-19 | Applications Now Closed



When are applications available and how do students apply?

Applications for the 2015 Summer Youth Institute have closed. 2016 SYI applications will be available January 2016.

How are students chosen?

Students must pass a two-part selection process in order to be selected to participate in SYI. First, all prospective students must fill out and submit the application online.

After all applications have been received, SYI staff selects 50 students for phone interviews. In groups of three to five, students will be asked a few questions about their expectations for SYI and any clarifications about their applications. After we have spoken with all 50 students, we will accept usually around half for the program.

The number one criterion for acceptance into the program is enthusiasm! We are looking for students who are both passionate about making positive changes in their communities and enthusiastic about learning new skills and forming new friendships. It is important that the students think carefully when writing their essays and answering questions over the phone. We are excited to get to know each of you, and we want to see that you are excited about SYI.

How can I get more information?

Contact Melody at melody@winterinstitute.org or Von at von@winterinstitute.org or at (662) 915-6734 with any questions we don’t answer here.


How can parents participate?

The Summer Youth Institute is open only to rising sophomores and juniors (current freshmen and sophomores) in high school in Mississippi. Parents are welcome to follow the student blog during the nine days of the Institute and attend the final banquet ceremony on Sunday, June 21, 2015, but they cannot participate in other activities or events. However, we do encourage parents to be a continuing source of support and inspiration for the students when they return home to enact their community projects.

What is the camper-to-mentor ratio?

The students are broken up into groups of four and led by one or two mentors. Additionally, there are several “floater” mentors and “junior” mentors who are not attached to a single group of students who contribute to the activities and take care of miscellaneous tasks.

What ages are the mentors?

Our mentors are college-age and older, usually between 22 and 30.

How do you choose mentors?

Our mentors are young adults who are experienced in community organizing and service projects. Mentors are selected through our Summer Mentor Program, a rigorous two-part application process and must pass a background check. Mentors selected to work the Summer Youth Institute represent the diversity of our state, country, and world. Half of our mentors are from Mississippi and the South, while the other half range from Washington to South Africa to Canada. They’re students and graduates from the University of Mississippi, UCLA, the University of Washington, Columbia University, Purdue and more. It is important that these mentors have experience as passionate community organizers because they are the very people who lead most of the activities and workshops.


What are the rooms like?

The students will share a room with one other person. Rooms usually include a desk, closet, and set of drawers, in addition to an XL twin-size bed, for each person. The residence hall in which the students will be staying has yet to be determined.

What about laundry?

While SYI staff will launder all participants official SYI t-shirt following each field excursion, students will not have access to laundry rooms in the dormitories. Students must bring with them enough clothing for nine days.

Does my child need extra money?

Not necessarily. We will provide all meals and some spending money for snacks in the dorms and on campus. However, some students may want extra money to spend in the campus bookstore. Besides the bookstore, there will not be many opportunities for students to spend money.

Where do the field trips go?

Students will travel to Philadelphia, Miss., and Greenwood, Miss., to learn about civil rights events that took place in those towns and to meet SYI alumni who have launched community projects they designed during past SYI sessions.


How can I get in touch with my child at the Institute?

Students will be allowed to use their cell phones only during breaks and free time. Frequently, we will ask students to hand in their cell phones during activities in order to ensure we have their undivided attention. When we are not busy with scheduled workshops and activities, we encourage students to keep in touch with their parents. Parents can follow the students’ progress throughout SYI on our Summer Youth Institute Facebook page and Instagram account.

How do you handle special dietary needs?

As long as we are informed in advance of any food allergies or vegetarian/vegan preferences, we can make proper arrangements for meals. Rebel Market, the cafeteria on campus where we will eat many meals, does provide vegetarian options. We will work with students with other dietary restrictions to provide adequate food options.

When and where are drop-off and pick-up?

Parents or guardians will drop off their students at the Luckyday Residential College at the University of Mississippi in Oxford on Saturday, June 13th. Parents will be invited to attend a banquet ceremony on the final day, Sunday, June 21nd, and will pick up their students following the ceremony. More detailed instructions will follow student acceptance into the program.

How much does the Institute cost?

Due to a generous grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and other generous donors, the Summer Youth Institute is free of charge to all students.

What should my child pack?

  • Clothes
  • Clothes hangers
  • “Church clothes,” i.e. dresses, slacks, skirts, etc. (optional)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Tennis shoes
  • Athletic pants/running shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Shower caddy
  • Toiletries (i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc.)
  • SHOWER SHOES – water shoes or flip-flops
  • Towels
  • Pillow
  • Sheets (twin, extra long)
  • Blanket
  • Alarm clock
  • Snacks
  • Laptop (optional)
  • Ethernet card and cord (optional)
  • Umbrella/Poncho


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