When are applications available and how do students apply?

Please be on the lookout for Summer Youth Institute 2020’s application soon.

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 five to seven, 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 28 students for the program and another eight to ten for as alternates.

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?

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, 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 two Mentors (counselors). Additionally, there may be several “floater” mentors and “junior” mentors who are not attached to a single group of students but contribute to the activities and take care of miscellaneous tasks.

Who are the mentors?

Our mentors are recent college graduates, graduate students, and teachers usually between 22 and 30 years old. They’ve come from around the world, including across the US, South Africa, Canada, and Northern Ireland.

How do we 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 the 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, Howard University, and more. It is important that these mentors have experience as passionate community organizers because they are the people who lead many 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.

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 at the campus bookstore. Besides the bookstore, there will not be many opportunities for students to spend money.

Where do the excursions go?

Students travel to Philadelphia MS and the Mississippi Delta, including Sumner, MS, to learn about civil rights events that took place in those places and to meet SYI alumni who have launched community projects designed during past SYI sessions.

How can I get in touch with my child at SYI?

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. Their cell phones are safely kept with an SYI staff person. 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. Additionally, parents will have the cell phone numbers of SYI co-directors if they need to contact their student.

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, provides 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 a residential college or dorm at the University of Mississippi in Oxford on Saturday, June 10th. Parents will pick up their student on the program’s final day, Sunday, June 18th, and attend a final presentation and closing ceremony. More detailed instructions will follow student acceptance into the program.

How much does SYI cost?

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

What should my child pack?

  1. Clothes
  2. Clothes hangers
  3. “Church clothes,” i.e. dresses, slacks, skirts, etc. (optional)
  4. Comfortable walking shoes
  5. Tennis shoes
  6. Athletic pants/running shorts
  7. T-shirts
  8. Shower caddy
  9. Toiletries (i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc.)
  10. SHOWER SHOES – water shoes or flip-flops
  11. Towels
  12. Pillow
  13. Sheets (twin, extra long)
  14. Blanket
  15. Alarm clock
  16. Snacks
  17. Laptop (optional)
  18. Ethernet card and cord (optional)
  19. Umbrella/Poncho