Summer Youth Institute

The Summer Youth Institute is a curated learning experience for rising sophomore and junior high school students who are Mississippi residents.

SYI develops leadership, self-awareness, and community appreciation in students who desire to make an impact. Students participate in themed workshops where they:

  • Learn the importance of relationship-building;
  • Internalize the value of using their voices;
  • Learn the significance of social and personal mindfulness and civic engagement.

Summer Youth Institute Application Process

  • SYI applications are released online each spring. Applicants will be asked to provide an essay as part of the application.
  • Fifty students are selected for phone interviews in groups of five to seven. Interviews focus on expectations for SYI and any clarifications about applications.
  • Twenty-eight participants are selected, along with eight to ten alternates
  • The #1 quality we look for in an applicant is enthusiasm! Passion for making positive changes in your community, for learning new skills, and forming new friendships are important for SYI participants.


  • Young adults, college grads, grad students, and educators (usually between ages 22-30) who will serve as a role model and confidante for SYI students
  • Experience working with culturally and/or socio-economically diverse young people
  • Solid knowledge base of U.S. racial history, civil rights and human rights history, and anti-oppression/anti-racist frameworks
  • From diverse backgrounds and experiences; we’ve had Mentors from Mississippi to South Africa, Columbia University to the University of Washington
  • Passionate about helping young people realize their potential. Highly motivated, patient, and energetic. Model appropriate and respectful behavior, while maintaining a very high level of professionalism.


  • The Summer Youth Institute grew out of a group of University of Mississippi students who wanted to help nurture Mississippi’s next generation of leaders.
  • That diverse group of young visionaries sought to develop an experience for younger Mississippians to learn to lead with equity, justice, history, and possibility in mind. 
  • Their vision, supported by the (then) Winter Institute and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute, resulted in the first summer training in 2010.
  • Every summer since, a new cohort of participants has experienced the Summer Youth Institute.

Support our collective movement to end inequity for all people.