This year marks the 28th year of the Summer Institute at Columbia College. More than 2,600 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.

2018 Summer Institute Programs

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

Step Up June 24-29, 2018 Rising 9th graders (Class of 2022)

Establish the foundation of leadership. Offered for girls excited to embrace the courage to lead, learn about personal leadership styles, and work with their peers in creative and exciting ways.

Step In July 8-13, 2018 Rising 10-11th graders (Classes of 2020-2021)

Build your leadership framework. Designed for girls ready to champion their unique talents and build a personal leadership model. Girls reinforce their strengths and work together to make an impact in their community.

Step Above July 8-13, 2018 Rising 11-12th graders (Classes of 2019-2020)

Become a future-ready leader. Offered for young women ready to apply leadership skills in the real world, shaping their future success in college, career, and citizenship.

Step Ahead June 24-29, 2018 Rising 10-12th graders (Classes of 2019-2021)

Cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit. Challenges and inspires young women’s abilities to identify problems, develop solutions, and lead change from within, while curating a set of solid business and communications skills.

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

How Do I Apply?

Young women can be nominated or they may apply directly to the program. A nomination does not serve as an application and participants must complete the application before any consideration will be made. An $85 non-refundable deposit required to hold a place in the program; the deposit is deducted from the total program fee. Applicants are encouraged to apply early and may be wait listed.

Applicants who participated in 2015, 2016, or 2017 can complete a separate application with their login credentials.

Applications must be completely filled out and submitted by April 30, 2018. Nominations are due March, 20 2018.

How Much Does It Cost?

Tuition for each program is $550 and includes programming, room and board for a week long, residential program housed on the Columbia College campus. A limited number of financial need-based scholarships are available upon request; interview required.

On June 1, fifty percent of the deposit is sue to secure your spot. Final balances are due at check-in.

Financial Aid

Thanks to the generosity of program supporters, we have a limited amount of financial need-based scholarships that are allocated towards camp tuition. 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:

  1. Indicate you are applying for financial aid on your application.
  2. Submit the front page of your most recent Federal Income Tax Return which shows total income and number of dependents by May 15, 2018.
  3. Pay the $85 non-refundable deposit fee.
  4. Complete a telephone interview.

Scholarships are awarded in two rounds, one of May 15 and another June 15. All paperwork is required for submissions before the second deadline.

Funding Partners


Central Carolina Community Foundation

Greenwood Women’s Leadership Council

GEAR Up program of Richland 2

The Lipscomb Family Foundation

The Nord Family Foundation

Richland County – Discretionary Grant Fund

The Self Family Foundation

TD Bank

Wells Fargo

Community Partners

Bennett School, Cali, Colombia, South America

Beta Club

City Roots

Columbia College Athletics Division and Golf Team

Columbia College Office of Admissions

Columbia College Office of Financial Aid

Columbia College Office of Advancement

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

Midlands Education and Business Alliance

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Palmetto State School Counselors Association

Richland Library

Richland School District Two

Rotary Youth Leadership Conference

Saluda Shoals Park

SC Economics SC

United Methodist Conference

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, at 803.470.6306 or by email at