It’s easy to feel powerless — especially as a young person. In the Youth Collaboratory, high school students dive deep into how power works and who has it.

Spoiler alert: we believe everyone has more power than they think. This program brings together passionate students from all across the country for a year of insights, connections, and practice — learning how to build civic power for good. You’ll travel to cities across the nation, meet leading civic innovators from all corners of the country, and use what you learn to develop a personal Power Project.

Applications are closed at this time. If you’d like to be the first to know about future opportunities, sign up for our newsletter →

About the Youth Collab experience

Each Youth Collaboratory cohort runs from January to October. Over the course of that year, your group will connect both in-person and virtually, and you’ll put your skills to work in your hometown.

Travel and Gather.

Three times a year, you’ll visit cities across the country where you’ll spend time with your cohort and meet national civic leaders. We’ll cover all transportation, food, and lodging costs for the trip. (We're currently evaluating the safety of traveling next year.)

Learn to Read and Write Power.

The basis of your learning will come from Eric Liu’s book, You’re More Powerful Than You Think. You’ll get to learn alongside Eric and others to explore how civic power is generated, the ways it flows, and the strategies you can use to harness it to make change happen in your community!

Turn Passion into Reality.

To bring it all together, you’ll create a Power Project focused on changing civic culture at home. Whether that’s gathering people together, serving your community, or spreading ideas about citizenship, you’ll use your newfound knowledge to catalyze change.

Find Your People.

Our favorite reason to join the Youth Collab? Joining a community of young people who care and want to step up their game. You’ll hype each other up, learn from each other’s experiences, commit to supporting each other's projects, and meet people who will be in your life forever.

The Youth Collab is about challenging yourself. When it’s broken down for you by Citizen University, a better future doesn’t seem so distant; it starts right here, right now, and it starts with us.

Claire O. Youth Collab alum

Practicing power

Your Power Project will be a central part of the Youth Collab experience — and you’ll get to focus on an issue you’re passionate about. We’ll support you in dreaming up and implementing a project unique to you, using the learnings, resources, and connections you’ve gained over the year. Here are a few projects past students have completed.

Making your voice more powerful.

Naimo gathered her friends together around the mic to create a podcast about microaggressions and the impact they have on their everyday lives. 

Creating in-roads in local government.

Feeling like youth voices were being left out, Marco collaborated with the Mayor and City Council in his town to create a Youth Council. 

Reaching and empowering voters.

Wanting to strengthen democracy by increasing voter engagement, Micah launched a website to help people know more about local elections in his area. 

Rallying with others.

Since she was a kid, Harmonie has cared deeply about taking action around climate change. Now she’s hosting climate summits reaching teens across the country.

Why now? Why me?

Let’s be honest: America is charged right now and it can often feel like a challenging place to grow up.

With hot topics ranging from a global pandemic, to a renewed reckoning with racial injustice, to increasing political polarization, to the undeniable urgency of caring for the planet it might make your head spin just trying to figure out what you should care about. Let alone how you can help. Fortunately, the Youth Collaboratory experience is grounded in the current moment. You’ll grapple with compelling questions facing our society. You’ll learn to see the ripple effects you’re capable of creating.

This program is for students who want to be useful to their friends, families, and community members, but might feel unsure of the best way to make real change.

We’ll connect you to a network of incredible change-makers and support you as you gain the skills and connections for a lifetime of civic power. Because YOU are the one who best understands the needs of the people closest to you. You can be a civic catalyst: circulating power, sparking a culture of civic participation, and supporting a democracy that works for everyone.

If you’re ready to show up as your full self, collaborate on every level, and find out just how powerful you can truly be, this might be just what you’re looking for.

What CU has shown me is that you can make steps to do what you’d like to see in your community. What CU teaches us is that if you learn how to manifest power in a way you can use it, you can make it whatever your dreams are.

Bunmi O. Youth Collab alum