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Summer Policy Academy Sets Young Leaders in Motion

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Gretchen Kent
April 11, 2022

What a time to be a young person, growing up, growing out, growing into adulthood in the 21st century. Like never before, we have access to unlimited information, networks and resources. Communication is at an all-time high, and with it, an unparalleled awareness of 

critical local, national and global geopolitical problems and challenges. The amount of information in our world can be overwhelming to young people clamoring for fairness, justice and equality, and expressing their desires to bring about positive change in the world. Laying a solid foundation for a career in public policy is certainly a place to start, and an advantageous lens through which to begin deciphering complex domestic and international policy issues and happenings. 

Enter Policy Pathways, a Richmond, Virginia-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing teenagers and young adults across the country with early insights into policy studies and helping young scholars and future policy leaders ignite their interests in public policy, public administration and international affairs. Filling the unique niche many high schools and academic institutions overlook, Policy Pathways aims to bring the knowledge, applicability and know-how of public policy to a younger generation.

A signature course offering is the two-week Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service Online (SAO), a program that prepares participants to stand out in college and career pipelines in public policy and administration, while feeding their yearning for change and purpose. The 2022 session of SAO is an immersive virtual affair for participants aged 15-25. A cornerstone of Policy Pathways’ curriculum is its pedagogical framework, which expands students’ critical thinking abilities before moving on to policy formation, policy analysis, advocacy and persuasion, and finally the Capstone project. This is the foundation from which modules and lesson plans are structured. 

The course is delivered by an assembly of world-class guest lecturers, top professors and leading decisionmakers who focus on real-world policy issues while strengthening participants’ research, communication, leadership and analytical skills. The rigorous curriculum covers policy formation, research methods, statistics, data analysis, advocacy and international affairs. 

The program piques students’ interest in a wide variety of policy topics including immigration, environmental, health, criminal and social justice, housing and more. Participants utilize knowledge derived throughout the course in the culminating Capstone project. Each new program year provides participants with opportunities to work on exciting contemporary policy projects! SAO graduates may continue to the five-week Policy Research Internship program.

The Policy Pathways team is preparing for the Summer Academy Online with great anticipation, especially President and CEO Dr. D. Pulane Lucas.

“I am most looking forward to watching how a new cohort of students will absorb the information they receive and translate that knowledge into action after completing the course. It’s always amazing to witness the transformation of students from overwhelmed on the first day to having mastered the language, concepts and new models and frameworks of thinking about policy issues by the end of the program,” Pulane said.

The application is online at https://policypathways.org/apply-now/. A statement of interest and school transcripts are required. Tuition is $1,600 (plus $70 administrative fee); scholarships are available. The deadline is May 1, 2022.

Join a stellar cohort of SAO participants who desire to ignite change!

For more information, please visit policypathways.org or contact us at (866) 465-6671 or [email protected].


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