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Student Leadership Institute

Empowering Students
The First Ring Student Leadership Institute empowers high school sophomores and juniors to become leaders of change in their schools and communities. Every fall, high school principals in the sixteen school districts surrounding the Cleveland Metropolitan School District nominate a team of five sophomores to attend the Institute. When they become juniors, these students have the option to return to for a second year to further their leadership skills.

Participants attend a total of seven sessions held at district locations and area colleges during school hours. At the Institute they will:
  • Hear from dynamic speakers in fields like professional sports, the sciences, finance and education
  • Learn about a social justice framework called Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) and use that knowledge to solve an issue of importance to them in their school or community
  • Develop the skills to lead and inspire others
  • Share their ideas and experiences with students from other First Ring districts
Solving Important Issues
In Year 1 at the Institute, high school sophomores work as a team to investigate an issue in their school or community.
  • Using a YPAR framework, five students from every First Ring high school research the nature, causes & potential solutions to an issue of importance to them.
  • Each team collaborates with a teacher or administrator from their district who acts as a guide.
  • At the final meeting in May teams share their findings and present their recommended solutions to their superintendent and principal.
Students who have completed Year 1 move on to Year 2 as high school juniors to put their recommendations into action and mentor incoming students.
  • Participants learn how to raise awareness and influence decision-makers to act on their recommendations.
  • Teams attend a youth research symposium to present their research and project outcomes.
  • Students earn undergraduate credit for their work and participation in the program.
Session 1
October 26, 2022
8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
CSU Campus/
Wolstein Center
Session 2
November 15, 2022
8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
CSU or OSU Campus
Session 3
December 6, 2022
8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
CSU Campus
Session 4
January 25, 20238 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
CSU Campus
Session 5
February 15, 20238 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
CSU Campus
Session 6
March 8, 20238 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
CSU or OSU Campus
Work Session
April 27, 2023
End of Year
Meeting/ Celebration
May 12, 20238 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Location TBD

Youth Research Symposium
(juniors/year 2 only)
May 19, 2023TBDCSU Campus

Getting Started
After being nominated to the Institute by their high school principals, students must have a parent or guardian complete the Parent Permission Form.  The form is available from their principals and online by following the link below.

 For More Information

CLICK HERE for the 2022-23 Brochure.

To see examples of previous YPAR initiatives view the Yearbooks below:

CLICK HERE for the 2022-23 Yearbook
CLICK HERE for the 2021-22 Yearbook
CLICK HERE for the 2019-20 Yearbook
CLICK HERE for the 2018-19 Yearbook

To find out more about YPAR and for YPAR resources visit

Watch the 2022-2023 End-of-Year May 12 Celebration recap video here. 

student quotes



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