Washington Program Activities

The Institute’s Washington Program includes a vast array of activities designed to challenge, inspire, and expose scholars to their leadership potential. During their summers here, scholars meet with some of the nation’s most prominent public and private sector leaders.

Congressman John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis speaks with the Institute’s scholars each year. Lewis was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington in 1963. Over several hours in his Capitol Hill office, he provides a unique view of the Civil Rights Movement, discussing his childhood in rural Alabama, his college days at Fisk University, and his work to bring national and international attention to the Civil Rights Movement. The time spent with Congressman Lewis is always a highlight of the summer for our scholars.

Sheila Johnson, Co-Founder of BET

Sheila Johnson is a successful entrepreneur whose portfolio has grown to include sports organizations, luxury resorts, a comprehensive aviation service company, and a line of scarves. She has hosted the Institute’s scholars at her owner’s suite for a WNBA Mystics game and led a private tour of her five-star Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, VA. During her visits, Ms. Johnson describes her journey from educator and artist to renowned businesswoman in media, entertainment, and hospitality. Her visits reground the scholars in the importance of honesty and integrity in business.

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas meets with the Institute’s scholars to discuss the role and workings of the Supreme Court. Over the course of three hours, Justice Thomas answers questions about many of the historic cases the Court has decided, while also speaking about the challenges he has faced throughout his life. Justice Thomas exhorts the scholars to stay true to their own personal values and believes.

General Colin Powell

General Colin Powell opened his most recent session with the Institute by saying he looks forward to his meetings with the scholars each summer because he is guaranteed to see a group of young African American men who are well dressed, well spoken, and prepared to engage him in a high level discussion of national and international affairs. General Powell’s talks range from the leadership traits necessary to succeed in a global society to the importance of service. At the end of each session, he implores the scholars to take an active role in mentoring the next generation of young people, especially African American boys.

Other prominent individuals scholars have met include:

  • The Honorable Barry Black, Chaplain, United States Senate
  • Dr. Arthur C. Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute
  • Dr. Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins University Hospital
  • Mr. Earl, W. Stafford, CEO, The Wentworth Group; Chairman, The Stafford Foundation

Other Washington Program activities include:

  • White House briefings
  • Major League baseball and WNBA basketball games
  • Golf lessons
  • Etiquette classes
  • Speechwriting workshops
  • Embassy briefings
  • Museum tours
Youth Scholar Academy »

"The Institute was an opportunity to get reignited about my mission."
– Christopher McKee, ’06