The Civic Leadership Institute: A Service-Learning Program for Academically Gifted Youth

Seon Young Lee, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Rob Donahue, Katrina Weimholt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The need for quality service-learning programs has increased according to greater interest in service-learning and civic engagement for academically gifted students. The Civic Leadership Institute (CLI), a 3-week residential program for gifted adolescents, is a service-learning program created to help academically talented students explore complex social issues that are faced by communities and society today. Class activities are comprised of rigorous academic coursework, community volunteer service, meetings with top community leaders, seminars on specific topics of interest, and rich residential and recreational experiences. This study examined how students perceive and evaluate their service-learning experiences with the CLI program using surveys from program evaluations and narrative comments from 230 gifted high school students who participated in CLI at two different sites in its first 2 years. Overall, the students indicated positive perceptions of the CLI program and were satisfied with its components, particularly the service projects and various field experiences. Overwhelmingly, they perceived that the coursework combined with hands-on experiences enhanced their awareness of civic issues, increased their motivation to engage in social issues in their communities, and allowed them to gain a new understanding and respect for diversity. Suggestions from students included more frequent field experiences, service projects tightly linked with academic content, and meetings with local community leaders. Because this study is the first evaluation of the CLI program, a longer term follow-up study with students who have participated in CLI and comparisons between students who have participated and students who have not participated in the program are needed to corroborate the positive perceptions found among this first cohort of student participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-308
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Advanced Academics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'The Civic Leadership Institute: A Service-Learning Program for Academically Gifted Youth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this