Join the Emerging Leaders Program

Group photo of ELP participants
ELP participants. Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

The Emerging Leaders Program aims to spark dialogue that leads to real-world impact, empowering those who might not traditionally view themselves as leaders.

The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is a youth leadership development program partnering local high school sophomores with current Harvard undergraduates in a mentoring relationship. Together, mentees and mentors challenge limited conceptions of who can be a leader as they build critical skills to drive positive social change.

Developing leadership skills among young people contributes in important ways to a healthy democratic society, and Emerging Leaders approaches this challenge in a uniquely Radcliffe way. Drawing on Radcliffe’s history—and the vast holdings of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America—the ELP curriculum focuses on the intersection of identity and leadership, social movements (both past and present), and the practical skills necessary for community and civic engagement.  

The Emerging Leaders Program currently works with students in two primary categories:

  1. Harvard College undergraduates, as mentors
  2. High school sophomores from local partner schools, as mentees

Harvard College students are eligible to participate as mentors. Through weekly in-person sessions mentors support and encourage high school participants’ success in the program. College mentors also have an opportunity to develop their own leadership and mentoring skills and to advance their knowledge of youth leadership, social movements, and civic engagement. 

Meet our 2023–2024 mentors.

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2023–2024 academic year.

Program Details

If you are interested in connecting with, inspiring, and mentoring high school students on topics of leadership, social activism, and civic engagement, this program is perfect for you. Mentors enhance their own perspectives on leadership and learn hands-on knowledge and skills while guiding their mentees through the program. Mentors also engage in training and reflection sessions together, providing opportunities for students to meet classmates outside their own programs or extracurricular network. 

The following list highlights some of the qualities we look for in an ELP mentor candidate:

  • current undergraduate Harvard College student;
  • prior experience in youth mentorship or programming;
  • commitment to social justice and equal opportunity and an interest in the intersection of identity and leadership;
  • strong peer leadership skills; and
  • good interpersonal, organizational, and communication (written and verbal) skills.

Successful student mentors will serve as positive role models for their mentees and as peer support for other student mentors.

  • Mentor up to three local high school students, providing one-on-one and small group support during weekly program sessions. Mentors are also expected to be in contact with their mentees on a weekly basis outside of program sessions through approved platforms.
  • Contribute to the facilitation of weekly program sessions through regular opportunities to lead small group discussions and activities, as well as occasional opportunities to present or cofacilitate for the full session cohort of mentors and mentees.
  • Participate in mentor training sessions in fall and winter 2023/24, and in monthly mentor reflection sessions in spring 2024.
  • Participate in a program kickoff event in late fall 2023, all program sessions from January to May, a capstone program in late spring 2024, and regular informal mentor and mentor-mentee socials throughout the year.
  • Provide written and verbal feedback to program leadership throughout the year.

Mentors are expected to commit to approximately 70 hours, between September 2023 and May 2024, with the majority of hours occurring during the Spring 2024 semester. First-time mentors will receive $19 per hour; returning mentors will receive $20 per hour. 

The time commitment will be allocated as follows, subject to future revisions: 

Fall semester

  • 5–10 hours of training sessions (some will take place in January 2024)
  • One 2-hour program kickoff event (December 4, 2023)

Spring semester

  • Three monthly 2-hour mentor reflection sessions
  • Eleven weekly 2.5-hour program sessions
  • One 2-hour celebratory capstone event

Throughout the year

  • Up to 1 hour per week of prep work and time spent checking in with mentees outside of program sessions
  • Additional hours to be determined for optional committee work

ELP currently partners with four local high schools in Radcliffe's surrounding community to engage tenth grade students as mentees. Partner schools select mentee cohorts annually through a nomination process, with dedicated program liaisons at each school recruiting students to participate in the program.

ELP partner schools:

  • Cambridge Rindge & Latin School
  • Prospect Hill Academy Charter School
  • Somerville High School
  • Watertown High School

Currently, the Emerging Leaders Program does not partner with any additional schools to recruit high school mentees. If you are a sophomore at an ELP partner school and are interested in joining ELP for the 2023–2024 academic year, please reach out to us at and we will connect you with your school’s ELP liaison to learn more about the mentee selection process.

If you’d like to learn more about the Emerging Leaders Program, please reach out with any questions to