Academies FAQs

Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions page for the American History and Civics Academies! Here you will find some commonly asked questions about the Congressional Academy that will help you on your journey to participate in this unique learning opportunity. We will soon be adding questions and responses related to the Presidential Academy. Do you have a question that is not listed below? Feel free to email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Congressional Academy

Presidential Academy Information


General Information 

When and where will the Congressional Academy be held?

Due to concerns related to COVID-19, the summer institute will now be conducted virtually from July 5-23, 2021.

Who is eligible to attend?

This opportunity is open to students who will be in high school in the academic year following the summer institute, particularly students who will be in eleventh and twelfth grade. Priority is given to students who are high-need. High-need includes students from low-income families (receiving free or reduced lunch), ethnic/racial minorities, English Language Learners, students with special needs, and other high-need groups.

Are there any costs associated with participating in the Congressional Academy?

Participation in the Academy is free, and costs are covered by the grant from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as donor funds. Participants will receive a $200 stipend upon completion of the summer institute and $100 upon submission of documentation related to the academic-year activity.

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Application Process

How do I apply to the Congressional Academy?
See our Academies webpage for information on how to apply Please submit Congressional Academy online application form by June 1.

I’d like to apply, but I don’t know a teacher who is applying to the Presidential Academy. What do I do?

You may apply in a team of one teacher and two students, but that is no longer a requirement for the 2021 AcademiesIf you are seeking a teacher or additional students to apply with you, consider talking with teachers, guidance counselors, or administrators at your school for assistance.

How do I know if the other student and teacher applying with me have completed their applications?

Please talk directly with the other members of your team to confirm that they have applied prior to the deadline.

When will I hear whether or not I’m accepted?

We anticipate making selections after the application period closes.

Who can I contact with questions regarding the application process?

Please email all questions regarding the Congressional Academy to Maria Gallo (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Alissa Irion-Groth (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 

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What happens in a typical day at the Academy?

On a typical day, students will participate in sessions with noted scholars that will immerse students in the study of civics and American history. Scholar sessions will be accompanied by breakout sessions with mentor teachers, who will engage students in discussions and activities with other Academy students to deepen their understanding and civic skills. As the days progress, they will become more and more engaged in preparing for a simulated Congressional hearing with a group of other students. There will also be virtual explorations of historical and civic sites, including National Park Service sites.

What topics will be covered in the Academy?

Academy participants will examine and discuss four main topics:

  1. The philosophical and historical foundations of the American political system and the creation of the US Constitution
  2. Changes in the US Constitutional system that have furthered the ideals contained in its Preamble and the Declaration of Independence
  3. The impact of the values and principles in the Constitution and its Preamble on American governmental institutions and practices
  4. Rights protected by the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments

Who are the scholars?
The scholars for the next Congressional Academy are being finalized from the Center’s national network of superb history and political science scholars. The scholars that participated in the 2019 Congressional Academy included GlyptusAnn Grider-Jones, PR & Research Coordinator, McConnell Center; Dr. Joseph Stewart, Professor of Political Science, Clemson University; Professor Christopher Riano, JD, Columbia University; and Dr. David Hudson, Professor of Law, Belmont University.

Who are the mentor teachers?
The mentor teachers are current classroom teachers of American history and civics who have extensive knowledge of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum and years of experience working with students.

What is the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum and how does it relate to this Academy?

The Academy participants are immersed in the study of constitutional history and principles following the intellectual framework of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum. To learn more about the We the People curriculum visit

Are all lectures and activities mandatory?

Yes, all lectures and academic activities on the agenda are mandatory. Attendance will be taken. If you do not show up for a live activity without prior explanation, we will contact you and your parents.

Where will we go on the field trips?

Our virtual field trips will include visits to National Park Service sites and other interesting and historic places! More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Will I get opportunities to work with the teacher and student I applied with?

Although the Presidential Academy teachers and Congressional Academy students have different agendas, there will be a session during the summer institute for teacher and student teams to discuss what they’ve learned and begin planning for an academic-year activity at their school.

When can I see the agenda for the next summer institute?
We will provide a draft agenda to accepted applicants by email.

What do I need to do during the academic year, after the summer institute?

After the summer institute, you will work with other students and teachers at your school to organize or participate in a history or civics activity. The activity can take place at any point in the ensuing academic year. The activity can include—but is not limited to—participating in the We the People program or National History Day, preparing a PowerPoint presentation to share with class on the most interesting aspect of the Academy, preparing a presentation to share with the administration of the school and others at a school board meeting or a Parent-Teacher Association meeting, and helping your teacher prepare classmates to take part in a congressional hearing. By September 30, we ask that you submit a written plan or documentation of the activity. We will discuss this further while we are together during the summer institute.

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Virtual Institute

What online platform will be used to conduct the institute? 

The Academy will be conducted using an online platform. Information relating to the platform will be given with the acceptance materials.

I don’t have a computing device or Internet at home. What can I do?

We recommend you talk with your school, local public library, or other local community organizations for options to borrow a computing device, Internet hotspot, get WiFi access, or other needs. Some Internet providers, school districts, or cities have special programs for low-income students/families.

Will I be able to use my smartphone if I don’t have any other device with internet capabilities? 

Because the summer institute is three weeks long and requires a variety of computing capabilities (using online breakout rooms, submitting written assignments, etc.), we believe a computing device is needed, such as a laptop, tablet, or computer. Please keep in mind that online video conferencing platforms make use of a great deal of data.

How will I gain access to the Academy lectures, workshops, and virtual field trips? 

You will be able to join the lectures and workshops using an invitation link provided by the Academy organizers. To be admitted into the virtual meeting space you must display your full name. Instructions for virtual field trips will be provided shortly before the activity.

Who do I contact if I have any trouble gaining access into Academy activities? 

You can contact the Academy organizers to inform them of any issues regarding access to the lectures, workshops, and field trips. A list of contacts will be provided to registered participants by email.

How will the Center guard against any possible intruders, “Zoom bombers”? 

Center staff will utilize the online platform’s waitlist and host features to mitigate this issue.

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Parent/Guardian FAQ

How will my child benefit from this program?
This is a unique, high-quality educational experience that will empower your son/daughter with sought-after academic and career skills and increase his/her capacity for effective civic engagement! Georgetown University’s evaluation of the 2019 Congressional Academy highlights some of these results. Also, please see the Academies’ webpage at, under What will Participants Gain?, for a summary list of the benefits of this Academy.

Once my child is accepted, how do we guarantee a spot in the Academy?

The acceptance materials, which will be sent by email, will include a registration form with waivers that must be filled out and signed, and returned by fax or email (by a particular date) in order to guarantee the spot.

When will we receive the agenda for the next Academy?

A draft agenda will be provided with the acceptance materials.

Who should I contact if I have questions about the Academy?

Please contact Maria Gallo (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Director, Professional Development & Special Programs, or Alissa Irion-Groth (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Director of Program Administration


Presidential Academy

The questions below pertain specifically to the Presidential Academy. General questions and answers about the American History and Civics Academies can be seen in the sections above. The general information above applies to both the Congressional and Presidential Academy unless otherwise stated. 


What happens on a typical day at the Presidential Academy? A typical day in the Presidential Academy will include lectures with scholars, discussion sessions with mentors, and virtual field trips on select days. Participants will be expected to join the daily virtual sessions for at least 4 hours a day for a maximum of 6 days a week for the duration of the Academy. 

Will Presidential Academy teachers be doing the thing as Congressional Academy students or will the agendas be completely different? The four agenda topics are the same for both Academies but the agendas will be different.  

When will the draft agenda for the 2021 summer institute be available? The draft agenda will be available after May 1st. 

Will portions of the Academy be recorded? If so can I know in advance what parts? Yes, portions of the Academy will be recorded. You will be able  to opt-out of any recordings and/or photos. 

Can I earn professional development hours by attending this Academy? We will provide you with a certification of the number of professional development hours provided by the Academy.  

Who will be our scholars and mentor teachers? The scholars for this year’s Presidential Academy will be The Honorable Susan Leeson, Dr. Jack Barlow, Dr. Francene Engel, and Dr. Vikram Amar. As with the 2019 Academies, mentor teachers will have extensive knowledge of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum specifically, and civic education in general.

How do I learn more about the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum and the simulated Congressional hearing? To learn more about the We the People curriculum please visit the We the People program website at

Can I submit an application if I do not know two students that want to apply to the Congressional Academy? Yes, you can submit an application and have the students apply at a later date. Applications to the Presidential Academy that are not accompanied by student applications to the Congressional Academy will be given lower priority. 

Will there be a joint session with students and will I get an opportunity to work with the students I applied with? Yes, there will be a joint session with students and during the session you will have an opportunity to work with the students you applied with. 

What do I do if I get sick and cannot make it to a session? You can contact your mentor whose contact information will be given prior to the academy.  

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