The Summer Youth Institute grew out of the minds and hearts of a group of University of Mississippi students who desired to help nurture and develop Mississippi’s next generation of leaders. These students, who were diverse across identities and experiences, sought to experience the ways in which their diversity was an asset in working together and to help other future cohorts of Mississippi youth do the same. Their vision, coupled with assistance from the Winter Institute and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute, gave way to the first summer training in 2010, which has now evolved to serve twenty-eight rising high school sophomores and juniors annually for nearly a decade.
Now a nine-day, experiential learning program, SYI serves as a powerhouse for developing leadership and advocacy skills in students who desire to make an impact in their communities. At the institute, students undergo themed workshops where they learn the importance of relationship building; internalize the value of using their voices; and learn the significance of social and personal mindfulness and civic engagement.