top of page
Post: Blog2_Post

Sadie Nash Summer Institute - Our Review

As a young high schooler, you're likely looking for programs to bolster your college applications while providing meaningful, useful experiences to help broaden your skills. Especially if you’re a young woman or a gender-expansive student wanting to make a career in fields like business and leadership, gaining pre-college experience is crucial from an exposure and skill-building perspective.

This is where programs like the Sadie Nash Summer Institute come into play, offering a unique blend of learning and real-world experience.

What is Sadie Nash's Summer Institute?

Sadie Nash's Summer Institute is a 5-week pre-college program specifically designed to empower young women and gender-expansive youth towards a career in leadership and business. The institute, inspired by the actions of Virginia “Sadie” Nash who in 1902 famously used her petticoat to help a freezing infant, offers a mix of classes, workshops, and field visits to offer a holistic learning experience. Founded in 2001 by Cecilia Clarke, the institute aims to nurture young women of color as leaders who can positively impact the world.

The program, which began in 2002, claims to have created over 10,000 youth leaders dedicated to racial, gender, and social justice. The institute has been recognized for its impact, including receiving the prestigious National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from Michelle Obama in 2013.

Is it prestigious?

Sadie Nash’s Summer Institute provides a unique learning environment where you can learn extensively about social justice, leadership, and community impact. It is partnered with industry stalwarts like the Boston Consulting Group, the Brooklyn Community Foundation, PWC’s Charitable Foundation, and Facebook. By leveraging these partnerships, it offers its participants stellar industry exposure. The institute also received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award in 2013, meaning that having it in your profile will serve as its mark of distinction. However, while there are lectures and workshops aplenty, there is limited practical learning. Additionally, the lack of specificity in the course also makes it less impactful from a career or admissions perspective. Overall, we would rate this as moderately prestigious, but good for the learning on offer.

Who is eligible for the program?

To apply for the Sadie Nash Summer Institute, you should meet the following criteria:

  • Be a woman or gender-expansive student currently enrolled in high school.

  • Demonstrate an interest in leadership and social justice.

  • Be able to commute to the classes in one of the four locations - Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Newark.

Note that there are no academic or skill criteria for admission, however, the program is commuter and not residential.

How does the application process work?

The applications for Summer Institute 2024 will open in the Spring of 2024. We suggest keeping a tab on their main website to know the details of the process once released.

How is Sadie Nash’s Summer Institute structured?

The Summer Institute offers a carefully balanced curriculum designed to maximize exposure and learning. You will be engaging in specially curated workshops and seminars on leadership and social justice, exploring for example colorism in communities, alternate post-secondary options, and self-defense training. As a Nasher, you will be taking two mandatory classes and choosing an additional academic and creative track:

  1. Power, Identity & Privilege - where you will be exploring your identity through various lenses, and the impact this can have on your work and decision-making in a business environment.

  2. Leadership seminar - where you will get to understand the various styles of leadership and where your own personal style fits.

You will also receive mentorship from past students, and attend regular talks by leaders in the fields of activism, art, business, and politics. There are field trips organized every week, to such diverse locations as the Brooklyn Museum, Rutgers University, and the headquarters of VICE Digital Media.

After you’re done with the program, Sadie Nash will offer a stipend based on your participation!

Considering Pros and Cons


  1. There is a strong social justice component: If you’re keen on becoming not just a leader, but a proponent of social justice, then this is a good program to consider. It is designed to provide comprehensive learning in both, with good exposure to experts in both fields.

  2. You get excellent networking opportunities: Speaking of exposure, you will get to network not only with the staff and alumni, but also with industry leaders from a variety of fields. There are also field trips and outings organized so that you network and bond with your peers as well.

  3. You will get paid a stipend: Based on your successful participation, you will get paid a stipend, which can help you advance your future studies or any additional work you’d like to do in the field of social activism.

  4. There is no cost of entry: Sadie Nash’s Summer Institute does not charge anything from applicants, making it much more accessible for students of all backgrounds.


  1. There is no virtual or residential option, only a commuter one: Unfortunately, to be able to attend Summer Institute you need to be able to commute to the class locations. This rules out applying if you’re an international student or are not able to arrange accommodation in the New York area.

  2. There is limited core skill building: While the program has a strong focus on leadership and several aspects of social justice, it has less in the way of core skills that will make your profile more attractive to college admissions officers or recruiters.

  3. There is limited hands-on learning: Though you will be learning from experts and an award-winning curriculum, there is no practical component that will allow you to apply what you’re learning. That’s something you’ll have to do on your own.

Our review

The Sadie Nash Summer Institute is an opportunity to learn leadership, to understand and contribute to social justice, and to prepare for a future of impactful work. If you're a young woman or gender-expansive student passionate about making a difference, this program could be a stepping stone to your future success. While there’s limited skill-building per se and not much in the way of hands-on work, it is no doubt a good starting point for anyone interested in social justice and leadership. If you’re located in the New York area or able to commute easily, this program should definitely be on your radar.

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re keen on pursuing in-depth research in social justice and leadership,  you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Sadie Nash Summer Institute logo


bottom of page