Youth Leadership Academy


The APAICS Youth Leadership Academy program, in partnership with the Close Up Foundation, is a week-long leadership development and enrichment program geared towards high school students. The purpose of the program is to provide students of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage the unique opportunity to learn more about government and public policy issues impacting the AAPI community and how they can be more involved in the political process. 

About the Close Up Foundation

The mission of the non-profit, non-partisan Close Up Foundation is to inform, inspire and empower young people to understand and embrace the rights and responsibilities of active citizenship. Since 1971, Close Up has served more than 900,000 students and teachers from across the country.  Close Up serves middle and high school students and teachers through civic education programs, professional development for educators, and classroom resources. 

Eligibility Requirements

Participants must be currently enrolled high school students for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Program Details and Structure

The cost to participate in the program is $175 per student. Students will also be required to complete an Enrollment Form with Close Up Foundation to confirm participation and pay the program fee. 


The program will be offered online and each registered student will gain access to their own individual online learning portal. Daily programming will begin at 6:00 PM Eastern and run no longer than 3 hours per day from June 21-25, 2021. APAICS staff and Close Up Program Instructors will facilitate the program and help moderate seminars with speakers and other partners. See a sample schedule here. A detailed schedule will be shared with accepted students in advance.

Fees and Financial Aid

The cost to participate in the program is $175 per student. 

There are a limited number of scholarships available to students who come from low-income households. Please have a parent or guardian complete the scholarship portion of the application to be considered for the scholarship. The scholarship application must be completed at the same time as the program application. 


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"After attending the APAICS youth leadership program last summer, I learned many new skills. The best I learned was probably how to speak up and be more outspoken on things we strongly believe in...My experience has further intrigued me into pursuing Pre-Law and working with the communities that are underrepresented. In college, I want to start an alliance club for underrepresented minorities, in hopes of giving them a better voice. I've also personally thought about doing public service in college."


Leanne Rivera

APAICS YLA 2020 Participant

2020 YLA Wrap-Up 

APAICS hosted the 2020 Youth Leadership Academy in partnership with the Close Up Foundation as a virtual program from June 14-19, 2020. We were joined by 52 AAPI high school students from 16 different states and territories and developed the skills and attitudes to become active and engaged citizens and reflect on how public policy impacts their lives and communities. Students working in small-group “workshops”, studied curriculum topics ranging from Federal Government Structure to Building AAPI Political Power and Leadership. We were honored to have Senator Amanda Shelton of the Guam Legislature join us as a guest speaker.


Throughout the week, students deliberated policy issues including criminal justice, immigration, and climate change. The week concluded with a legislative congressional simulation. Students were “sworn in” as U.S. Representatives, debated current bills moving through the United States Congress such as the VOTE Act and Original Living Wage Gap, and cast their vote in the “virtual Congress."


2020 Virtual Youth Leadership Academy

July 21-24, 2020


2021 Virtual Youth Leadership Academy

June 21-25, 2021