Leadership U – Student Leadership in Action

Leadership U is a transformative leadership program for high school juniors in Howard County, MD. Applicants for the 2024 Leadership U program should be entering their junior year during the 2024 – 2025 school year.

Leadership U’s emphasis on student-led initiatives cultivates a generation of socially conscious leaders, equipping them with the tools and mindset to effect meaningful change within their communities. Through Leadership U, student-led community impact projects ignite tangible change, addressing local challenges with innovative solutions while fostering a sense of civic responsibility among participants. These projects empower high school juniors to apply their leadership skills in real-world scenarios and leave a lasting mark, creating a ripple effect of positive transformation within Howard County, MD.

Students can expect to:

  • Develop mentoring relationships with adult community leaders.
  • Learn about Howard County’s government, businesses, and services.
  • Work in student project teams to create an implement community impact projects.
  • Analyze community impact and present their projects and outcomes at LU graduation.

Why Leadership U 2024?

Leadership U 2024 Program Overview

Interested in Applying?

Thank you to our many Leadership 2024 Applicants!

The Leadership U 2024 is now closed. For information regarding the status of your application, please email Emily McCoy Bish at emccoybish@leadershiphc.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Leadership U is a four-month program and consists of the following components:

  • A week-long summer program of team building, leadership skills development, tours of county facilities, and identification of issues affecting youth in Howard County.
  • A fall session focusing on community service projects created and implemented by the students.
  • The program cost for 2024 is $1,200. Tuition assistance is available, which must be requested at the time of application. Payment plans are available.
  • The schedule of Key 2024 Program Dates will be published soon.

Leadership U is open to high school juniors who live or attend school in Howard County. Students may attend public or private schools. Home-schooled students are also welcome. To be considered, students must apply during their sophomore year.

Students must have a desire to learn about their community and a willingness to volunteer. LU is a great way to meet new people from different schools who share similar interests in knowing more about their community and who want to make a positive impact.

The program kicks off in July with daily team-building sessions and learning activities and continues with bi-monthly fall meetings. The Leadership U schedule works for many busy students, even those who have fall sports or other activities. Summer Week 2024 will be held on Sunday, July 14 (beginning late afternoon) and run through Friday, July 19, 2024. A complete list of program dates will be published soon.

Leadership U graduates are encouraged to remain involved in the program by acting as student mentors to new Leadership U students and by spearheading their own community activities following graduation. LU graduates often continue their community service through active volunteering, school leadership roles, and advisory board positions. In the past, students have served on the Howard County Commission for Women, Student Members of the Howard County Board of Education, the Police Advisory Board, Howard County Public School System Advisory Groups, #One Howard, and various nonprofit boards. These student leaders provide a valuable youth perspective in these unique roles. LU graduates also have participated in internships with the Howard County Government (including the County Executive’s Office), Howard County Council, and the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. Many have also found their expanded leadership capabilities valuable as they transition to college and other future endeavors.


As a teacher in the County, I want to express my gratitude and admiration for the opportunities Leadership U has given my students. Over my 20 years with Howard County, I know of no other program that builds our student population into considerate, responsible, engaged citizens. Read more …

Leila Chawkat, Gifted and Talented Research Teacher at Glenelg High School

Leadership U was a great learning and networking experience for me. It was also a great place to create new friends my age in the community. Read more …

Jayson Clarke, LU '23

Leadership U has been a pleasure to be a part of. From the people I met, connections I made, and life lessons I learned, Leadership U has given me opportunities I may never have in my life again. Read more ….

Alex Kersh, LU '23

I have genuinely appreciated my time with Leadership U. Starting at the beginning with summer week, meeting people from different schools was wonderful. I remember sophomore year having a desire to meet students from the other Howard County schools, and Leadership U has helped me fulfill this wish. And even better, I met like-minded students who also have the values of high-achievement and dedication. Read more …

Scarlett Lopez, LU '23

My time here at Leadership U was a great experience. When it all began at Summer Week, I was intimidated to work with all these new people I had never met before. However, little by little, I came out of my box and made so many new friends through all of the creative activities we did. Working with my peers throughout the entire program, I learned many new valuable skills that will last me a lifetime. Read more …

Abiola Owens, LU '23

Click here to hear about Dylan’s LU experience

Dylan Bradford, LU '20

Leadership U made an impact on many levels, more than just the surface. Of course, through a program as extraordinary as LU, I gained a toolset of skills that I will carry with me through my high school, college, and professional life; but the most profound aspect of LU was how it brought me together with people of varying backgrounds and instilled in me a passion for helping others in our Howard County community.

Justin Cargiulo

LU provided me with the opportunity to see how I can stay engaged in the community as a student and future leader to affect others.

Tommy Na, Your Content Goes Here

Leadership U exposed me to networks of professionals in Howard County who share my passion for fostering social justice, which inspired me to further engage with my community and initiate action where it was needed and start a food pantry at my school.

Madelyn Harris, Your Content Goes Here

Volunteer & Mentor Opportunities

If you enjoy working with high school students and want to help a motivated group of students make an impact on their community, please consider being an LU Mentor! As part of their leadership development, students work in teams and design their own community service projects. Adult mentors work closely with the teams and help guide their efforts and projects LU teams meet twice a month on Sunday afternoons (from 2 – 4:00 p.m.) from July – December.

Throughout the program year, there are additional opportunities and needs for volunteers. Click the button below for details.
For additional information or to volunteer, email Emily McCoy Bish.