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Student Leadership Institute

Empowering Students
What if you could collaborate with your superintendent to solve the most challenging issues students face?  The First Ring Student Leadership Institute (FRSLI) inspires and empowers high school sophomores and juniors to recognize the issues impacting their lives, give voice to their unique perspective about those issues, and take an active role in solving them.  FRSLI students have helped improve access to mental healthcare, implement programs to improve school culture, and add courses on adult skills.

FRSLI is built on a social justice framework called Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) that recognizes students as experts in their own experiences and emphasizes student-adult collaboration to make change.  Entering the program as sophomores, students work in school teams to identify an important issue in their school, research the nature and scope of the problem, and at the final meeting pitch their recommendations to their principal and superintendents.  As juniors, students returning for a second year in the program work collectively to address a state-level issue in education while helping leadi the program.  

All participants attend eight all day sessions during the school year where they share their ideas, engage in hands-on activities, and collaborate with students from other districts.
Solving Important Issues
In Year 1 at the Institute, high school sophomores learn how to use their voice to make change. They...
  • Work with other students in your school to research the nature, causes and potential solutions to an issue you care about.
  • Collaborate with students from other schools in Northeast & Central Ohio.
  • Learn research, presentation and advocacy skills from experts.
  • Pitch ideas to principals and superintendents.
In Year 2, high school juniors learn how to amplify their voice and broaden their impact. They...
  • Work collectively to research a state-wide issue.
  • Deepen your understanding of youth activism, power, and social change.
  • Share your data, insights and recommendations with state-level decision makers and work with them to collaboratively solve the issue.
  • Mentor incoming sophomores at critical points in their YPAR projects.
Session 1
October 178:00-1:30Cleveland State University
Session 2
November 14TBDOhio State University
Session 3
December 5 8:00-1:30
Cleveland State University
Session 4
January 238:00-1:30
Cleveland State University
Session 5
February 138:00-1:30
Cleveland State University
Session 6
March 4TBD
Cleveland State University
Work Session
April 118:00-1:30
Cleveland State University
End of Year
Meeting/ Celebration
May 108:00-1:30
St. Michael’s Woodside, Brecksville Ohio
Youth Research Symposium
(juniors/year 2 only)
TBDTBDCleveland State University

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.

To see examples of previous YPAR initiatives view the Yearbooks below:
CLICK HERE for the 2023-24 Yearbook
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

About YPAR
Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is a social justice framework that empowers young people by recognizing them as experts of their own life experiences.  Students investigate an issue they feel passionate about and collaborate with adult decision-makers to transform their environments.

YPAR builds students' leadership and social emotional skills through culturally relevant project-based deep learning.  At the end of the program, participants have the knowledge, leadership skills, and sense of agency to solve critical issues within their schools and communities.

To find out more about YPAR and for YPAR resources visit

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

CLICK HERE for the 2023-2024 First Ring Student Leadership Institute Brochure 

words from students



Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio
6393 Oak Tree Boulevard South, Independence, OH 44131
P:(216) 524-3000  |  F:(216) 524-3683  |  [email protected]
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State Support Team 3
Essex Place
6393 Oak Tree Blvd, Independence, Ohio 44131
P:(216) 524-3000  |  F:(216) 446-3829    
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