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What are Community Innovation Projects?

Community Innovation Projects (CI Projects), previously called Leadership Grant Projects, are academic year projects during which junior Scholars identify a problem in their community and work in teams to develop and implement a solution. CI Projects empower high school juniors to seek out a social issue that piques their interest and inspire them to search for answers with a team of equally passionate individuals. These projects require Scholars to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to examine and creatively solve problems. Previous Scholars have facilitated educational workshops, raised awareness about environmental issues, created websites for responsible social media use, and much more.

Each year, the program recruits Project Mentors – adult professionals and college students– to advise a small group of Illinois Global Leaders as they develop their Community Innovation Project. The Project Mentors and the Scholars are largely responsible for developing and implementing the project with minimal guidance from our program staff.

CI Projects:

  • Use an asset-based problem solving approach for working in the community.
  • Are led by students and guided by adult mentors.
  • Receive a small budget to develop a solution.
  • Follow a design-thinking methodology.
  • Are largely completed during Scholars junior year.
  • Culminates into a final presentation and banquet.

You can read more about the current projects here:

Diversity in STEM

Educational Inequality

Gender Inequality

Immigration Reform

Teen Mental Health

Police Brutality

Air Pollution