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Virginia College Civic Leaders Program

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Virginia College Civic Leaders Program

The Virginia College Civic Leaders Program, sponsored by the University of Virginia’s Karsh Institute of Democracy and the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership, is open to currently enrolled undergraduate students who are interested in policy and/or the public sector. Meet the 2024 Cohort! 

2024 Cohort Collage

The program is open to students who attend a Virginia college or university and/or will be living in Virginia during the summer. Students at UVA who are rising Second, Third or Fourth-Year students and students at other colleges and universities entering their Sophomore, Junior or Senior years may apply for the program.

The Virginia College Civic Leaders Program serves to develop future leaders in the public sector through a curriculum focused on leadership and public policy. Each year, the program examines public policy in a key economic sector in Virginia, analyzing the current landscape, key stakeholders, related issues, and their implications for society and democracy. This summer, the curriculum will focus on health care.

Program Structure

This summer, the curriculum will be focused on healthcare leadership and public policy. Students are not expected to have prior coursework or experience in the healthcare policy area to participate in the Program.

Participants will learn to analyze and apply core lessons and theory to current issues through a combination of research, discussion, and guest lectures by leading practitioners including policymakers, elected officials, private and nonprofit leaders, and UVA faculty.

Participants will learn to:

  • Analyze and evaluate public policy.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of policymaking and governance in Virginia.
  • Assess best practices in the development of sustainable public policies.
  • Identify core traits and attributes of effective public policy leadership.
  • Engage with policymakers and other stakeholders at the local, state, and federal level.
  • Develop career plans tied to public policy.

The Virginia College Civic Leaders Program will take place primarily over Zoom and will require a time commitment of approximately 15-18 hours per week during the duration of the program and a full day in-person at UVA in early August.

All students will be given brief reading materials in advance of many of the sessions and will be expected to develop questions to ask guest speakers during each session.

During the final week of the program, all participants will also have a chance to reflect on the program with their other cohort members during a final in-person wrap up day in Charlottesville.

UVA students will have access to additional resources, such as career development sessions led by the UVA Career Center.

Students who cannot commit to all five weeks of the program will not receive full consideration.


Applicants will be notified of admission decisions by Friday, April 26 (or later for non-UVA students). The program dates are Monday, July 1 – Friday, August 4, 2024.


Stipends of $1,000 will be available to up to 15 UVA students. UVA students who do not receive a stipend may still be offered an uncompensated spot in the program. Students from other colleges and universities are not eligible for a stipend but may check with their school to determine if funding and/or credits are available.


For UVA Students, please fill out an application on Handshake. Applications should consist of a cover letter explaining your interest in the program and your resume. You may also submit a letter of recommendation and an unofficial transcript. You may direct any questions to Will Thompson at

For non-UVA Students, please send a cover letter explaining your interest in the program, your resume, and an unofficial transcript to Larry Roberts at You may also submit a letter of recommendation. You may direct any questions to Larry Roberts.


The Karsh Institute of Democracy: The University of Virginia’s Karsh Institute of Democracy is dedicated to a future in which democracy’s aspirations and reality are aligned. We work tirelessly to understand, defend, and invigorate the institutions, practices, and cultural underpinnings that are the foundations of democracy. Through all our work—robust interdisciplinary scholarship, research and teaching, and vibrant programs and partnerships designed to engage the public and influence policy agendas—we are shaping a thriving democratic future.

The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership: For 30 years, The Sorensen Institute has brought together diverse individuals with a passion for politics and public service. Program participants have a wide variety of viewpoints and backgrounds but want to work together for the common good. Our non-partisan mission is to strengthen and enhance the quality of government at all levels throughout Virginia. At the heart of every Sorensen program are central themes: effective leadership, building trust, civil dialogue, respect for others, ethics in public service, the power of bipartisanship, and effective public policy.