Young Leaders Academy

High school students to explore the origins, development and contemporary impact of the U.S. Constitution in this annual summer leadership conference.

 Participants in a past YLA program.

About the YLA Program

Program Dates: June 13-17, 2023. Application Deadline: March 31, 2023.

Kentucky high school students who will have completed at least one year of high school (as of summer 2023) are eligible to apply for the Young Leaders Academy, a summer residential leadership conference at the University of Louisville. The McConnell Center offers this annual program to outstanding students to help hone their leadership skills and further their understanding of American history.

The theme of the conference is "Revisiting American Constitutionalism." 

Conference topics include:

  • The origins of written constitutions
  • Federalist and Anti-Federalist debates
  • Disagreements about the proper role of government in modern America
  • Role of federal courts and political institutions in modern America
  • What changes and amendments students might advocate to change our foundational law

Application Materials (due March 31, 2023):

  • Application Form
  • Resume - List your high school activities and leadership roles (not to exceed ONE typed page).
  • Leadership Essay - 1000 WORDS (MAX). Describe your ideal leader, how you relate to such a model of leadership, and why you want to attend YLA.
  • (optional) Recommendation - Submit one letter from a non-family member (e.g., teacher, coach, supervisor, administrator, etc.) familiar with your leadership abilities. You may either attach the recommendation yourself or have your recommender email their letter to .
  • Note: All application file attachments must be submitted in PDF format via email to .

Other Details: 

Participants will stay at the University of Louisville under the guidance of McConnell Center staff and university honors students. Participants will take part in a series of seminars, discussions, lectures, team-building activities and structured socials during their stay.

Sessions will be led by faculty, staff and students of the University of Louisville and other area institutions and will be conducted at or near an entry-level college experience.

Each participant will receive a scholarship for the Young Leaders Academy that includes free lodging, meals and all conference materials.

Priority consideration will be given to students who have NOT previously attended a YLA program.

“This will be a tremendous educational experience, but it is also a terrific opportunity for those who might be interested in being considered for McConnell Scholarships to the University of Louisville,” said Gary Gregg, director of the McConnell Center.

Questions? Contact 502-852-3158 or .

Check out Video & Photos from past YLA programs.