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Southern Education Leadership Initiative

SELI was developed over ten years ago to mark the 50th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that broke the spine of legalized segregation in public education. The belief was there still remains work to be done in fulfilling the promise of Brown and in ensuring that all children, irrespective of race, class, gender or national origin, receive an excellent education.  A new generation of thinkers and leaders with big ideas and hearts was needed to carry on Brown's work, and must be given opportunities where they can grow academically and professionally.

SELI provides highly motivated and diverse upperclassmen and graduate students opportunities to develop as leaders, engage in their communities and learn about contemporary education issues through this leadership development effort.  Students spend the summer in trainings and working at an assigned leading nonprofit sector organization.  During this experiential learning opportunity, they examine strategies for improving education, addressing community needs, and putting theory into practice.

Applications due March 1**
This was the 2016 deadline; the 2017 deadline has not been posted. It is very important to check the website well in advance of March 1 in the event that the deadline has changed.


  • Must be between the ages of 20-32 years old to qualify for the program.
  • Must be currently enrolled in a four-year college or graduate level program in or outside the South.
  • Must have completed 60 credit hours (equivalent of junior status & above in undergraduate program) or be currently enrolled in a masters, law, or doctoral program at a college or university. No minimum GPA is required.
  • All majors are accepted but you must have demonstrated an interest in social justice and/or education policy and practice.
  • Excellent interpersonal, writing, and critical thinking skills, with flexibility to respond well to diverse people, settings, and tasks.
  • Must be willing to work on assigned projects from placement site and SEF only through course of summer. Students do not design projects for this experiential learning opportunity but are assigned them by the placement site supervisor.
  • Must be willing to relocate to another city or town, not take any kind of coursework, test preparation, or other job opportunities during summer program, and attend in full the Orientation and Closing Meeting.


  • Stipend: a living expense stipend of $4,500 (for undergraduate juniors or graduating seniors) or $5,000 (for graduate students who will have completed at least one term by June 1, 2016)

  • Travel: all airfare/car mileage expenses associated with traveling to and from SEF trainings to summer placement site (assistance also provided by SEF in making travel arrangements)



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