Empowering Students to Learn by Doing

Designed for students entering their junior year in high school, the Leadership U program empowers students to learn by doing. Students can expect to:

  • Work in teams to discuss, reflect upon and develop solutions for problems that affect them and their peers in the community.
  • Develop mentoring relationships with adult community leaders.
  • Learn about Howard County’s government, businesses, and services.
  • Sharpen their presentation skills.

Interested in Applying?

The application process for the 2021 program has closed – details about the 2022 program will be announced in the fall.  A new, 3-session, skills-based workshop, LEAD 101, will be offered late May – early June, and is designed for current high school 10th and 11th graders – scroll down the page for more details.


Benefits of the LU Program

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…

Why LU-2021

2021 LU Overview

Click here to view February’s (virtual) Information Session (recorded February 11, 2021)

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 – 4:30 p.m.) for 9 weeks, from August through December.

Throughout the program year, there are additional opportunities and needs for volunteers. Click the below button for more details.
For information or to volunteer, email Meg Ignacio or call 410-730-4474 x 115.

Additional LU Volunteer Opportunities

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.
  • Program cost: $995. Tuition assistance is available, which must be requested at the time of application. Payment plans are available.
  • Schedule of Key 2021 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 2021 will be held Sunday, July 25 (beginning late afternoon) and run through Friday, July 30, 2021. 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 Member of the Howard County Board of Education, 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.


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

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.

Leila Chawkat, B.A., M.A., NBCT

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

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