Summer Leadership Institute at Columbia College

Summer Leadership Institute at Columbia College

NOMINATE Young Women Leaders by 4.15.2017
Application Process | Tuition & Scholarships
FAQsMeet Our Participants and Counselors 
2015 Annual Report 
Supporters & Partners | Contact Our Team 


Summer 2017 marks the 27th year of the Summer Institute at Columbia College, through which more than 2,500 women have taken their first steps to becoming successful leaders. This year we are offering four unique, week-long summer programs serving rising 9-12th grade girls. Waiting lists are forming...we encourage you to apply today! 

2017 Summer Institute Programs 

Introducing Step Ahead: The new program for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators

We believe everyone has great ideas. The challenge is to know how to cultivate ideas utilizing personal discovery, leadership, communication and teamwork. The Step Ahead program will cultivate girls' entrepreneurial mindsets, focusing on building the following skill sets:

  • Initiative and self-direction
  • Risk-taking
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving

Step Ahead is the newest program of the Summer Institute at Columbia College, serving rising 10-12th grade girls. Participants will join more than 2,500 graduates since the Institute began in 1990. The programs, which serve young women across South Carolina and the Southeast, are designed for girls with the spark of leadership – and for those ready to refine their leadership skills.

Learn more about Step Ahead and view a sample schedule of events:



Application Process

Young women can be nominated or they may apply directly to the program, however, all participants must complete the Summer Institute application in order to be selected for one of the programs. Applications must be completely filled out and submitted by May 5, 2017. An $85 non-refundable deposit required to hold a place in the program; the deposit is deducted from the total program fee. 

Nominate a young woman with a "spark of leadership" for the Summer Leadership Institute by April 15, 2017.

Applications for 2017:

Tuition, Scholarships and Financial Aid

The all-inclusive total tuition/fee for the Summer Leadership Institute programs is $550, which includes all meals, room and board, activities and program materials for the entire week. A limited amount of financial need-based scholarships are available. The $85 non-refundable deposit is required and is applied directly toward this fee. We anticipate waiting lists for all four programs this summer.

Thanks to the generosity of program grantors, we have a limited amount of financial need-based scholarships that are allocated towards camp tuition. To be considered, please submit the required additional information before the designated deadlines. Scholarships range from $150 - $450. The amount of scholarships granted are contingent on the number of applicants that apply by deadline dates.

To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must:

  • Click the checkbox indicating “Yes, I would like to receive more information about financial scholarships” on the application.
  • Submit several documents by May 15, 2017: these include household tax return/income and dependent information.
  • Pay the $85 non-refundable deposit fee.


Where do I apply for the Summer Leadership Institute? 

What are the criteria to receive financial aid need-based scholarship?

  • In order to be considered for a financial aid need-based scholarship, the applicant must submit the front page of their 2016 Federal Income Tax Return (1040/A) which shows total income and amount of dependents.
  • The applicant must provide the number of dependents living in the household as stated on the Tax Return form.
  • The applicant must sign up and participate in an interview with a member of the Summer Institute staff. 

Do you offer summer programs for middle school girls?

  • At this time our Summer Leadership Institute is focused on rising 9-12th graders. 

When is the Summer Leadership Institute?

  • Step Up: June 25-30, 2017
  • Step Ahead: June 25-30, 2017
  • Step In: July 9-14, 2017
  • Step Above: July 9-14, 2017

What time do I drop my participant off?

  • We ask that you drop your participant off for between 1-3 p.m. on the starting date (Sunday).
  • Pick up times are in conjunction with the afternoon graduation ceremonies on Fridays each week. 

2017 Summer Leadership Institute Schedule of Deadlines (tentative as of 8.11.2016)

  • January 2: Applications and Nominations Open
  • April 15: Nominations Close
  • May 5: Applications Close
  • May 15: Deadline for Scholarship Paperwork & Scholarships Awarded (Round 1)
  • June 1: Deadline for 50% Deposit (all four programs)
  • June 15: Scholarships Awarded (Round 2)
  • June 15: All paperwork due to the Columbia College
  • June 25: Check in for Step Up and Step Ahead (final balance due at check in)
  • July 9: Check in for Step In and Step Above (final balance due at check in)

Meet Our Participants and Counselors 

"Going to the Summer Leadership Institute has been such a rewarding experience, not only did I gain new friends, but I have also learned life lessons about becoming a true leader and if there is no work, there is not progress" - 2015 Summer Institute Graduate

"As a Summer Leadership Institute counselor, I received the opportunity to interact with many talented girls. Not only was the experience amazing for participants - it was transformational for me as well." - Breanna, Senior Counselor, Columbia College Class of 2016

"I was not the best at public speaking or the biggest fan of it, but during my time the Summer Leadership Institute, I became better at it. In November I am attending a United Way Conference to present in front of hundreds of people about my leadership experiences this past year. This program has really helped me evolve as a leader and as a person." - Savana, 2015 Step In Participant 

"My week at the Institute was a week full of growth. By the end of the week I was able to confidently handle myself in a professional setting. I left the Institute feeling like a new and improved version of my old self." - Ashley, 2015 Summer Leadership Institute Junior Counselor and incoming first year at Columbia College

2015 Annual Report


Supporters and Partners

Our partnerships with community organizations were critical to our success this year:

Central Carolina Community Foundation
Greenwood Women's Leadership Council
GEAR Up program of Richland 2*
Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation*
Jack and Jill Foundation of America, Inc.*
The Lipscomb Family Foundation
The Nord Family Foundation
Richland County
The Self Family Foundation
TD Bank*
Wells Fargo
Women in Philanthropy of the United Way

Alpha Media Group*
Babcock Center*
Bennett School, Cali, Colombia, South America
City Roots
Columbia College Athletics Division/Golf Team
Columbia College Office of Admissions
Columbia College Office of Financial Aid
Columbia College Office of Marketing & Communications
Columbia College Office of Residential Life
Columbia College Police Department
Columbia Country Club
Females in Action (FIA)*
Fort Jackson*
Future Business Leaders of America*
Girl Scouts -- Mountains to Midlands Council
Girls on the Run
Habitat for Humanity -- ReStore
Harvest Hope Food Bank
Jefferson Awards Foundation
Junior Achievement*
Junior Leadership Kershaw County
Katrina's Kids
KORE Wellness*
Lexington School District 5 -- Chapin Middle School
Midlands Education and Business Alliance*
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship*
Orangeburg School District 5
Palmetto Conservation Foundation*
Palmetto Place Children's Shelter
Palmetto State School Counselors Association
Practical Dramatics*
Richland County Library
Richland School District Two
Rotary Youth Leadership Conference
Saluda Shoals Park
SC Economics*
SC United Methodist Conference
SCANA Services, Inc.
Sodexo: Columbia College Dining Services and Facilities
Transitions Center
Yoga Masala
Youth Corps

For More Information

To learn more about the programs, including how to become involved in a counselor or mentor role, please contact the Center for Leadership directly.

Katherine Swartz Hilton, Director, Center for Leadership & Co-Director, McNair Center for Entrepreneurism
1301 Columbia College Drive; Columbia, SC 29203
803.786.3729 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.