Apply to Become a JLI Scholar

The John Lewis Institute for Social Justice seeks to empower a new generation of leaders to follow his call to build a better and more just world; one that is marked by hope and focused on liberation. In doing so, we find hope and strength in his effort, voiced in the language of justice and lived in a life of service. Our collective work is designed to create intellectual and civic spaces to allow for a deeper understanding of the roots of injustice, while also fostering and nurturing efforts to eliminate it. We aim to do this by helping participants develop as social justice leaders and advocates who fully engage in public service. We encompass the issues of all people and seek to work for the oneness of humanity. We take as our mandate Rep. Lewis's observation and challenge that "ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America."

Student Scholars will be connected to other cohorts who have started before and after their own cohort. Students will work together to engage in the self-reflective work that is critical to understanding their intersecting identities, cultures, values, and passions. They will engage in difficult and vital discussions about the social injustices that shape our world, and they will examine the transformative work that is being done to address those injustices. The JLI Scholar program will also help students to identify their passions, explore careers in public service, and build a network of peers, faculty, staff, and community leaders.

JLI Scholars who fulfill the minimum requirements of the program will also receive a $750/semester stipend during their two years in the program. At the end of their two years, JLI Scholars will be recognized for their work and receive a Presidential medallion to wear at commencement. 

To apply to become a JLI Scholar, please submit the application materials linked below to the email address provided. Notifications about the status of your application will be sent once we have reviewed all applications. The deadline for the 2024-2026 cohort is July 15, 2023.

Application Criteria


  • Must be a Central full or part time student
  • Can apply from any major
  • Must have at least two years remaining as a Central student (per the two-year program commitment)
  • Must have a 2.5 GPA or higher.
  • Should have experience with activism or social change or volunteer work
  • Must be interested in social justice and public service
  • All races, ethnicities, nationalities and genders are welcome to apply.
  • Must be able to meet the minimum participation requirements of the program.

Expectations of Scholars

Each student’s continued participation in the program and their $750 stipend will be contingent upon fulfillment of the program requirements. Students will be provided with a contract that will include the specific list of requirements prior to starting the program. Generally, JLI scholars will be expected to do the following:

Year 1 
Fall & Spring (August through May)

  • Attend a 2-3 day JLI retreat (late August or early September)
  • Attend & participate in weekly or biweekly 1.5 hour seminar meetings
  • Complete assignments
  • Attend & participate in certain campus or community social justice events and activities


  • Possible Internship

Year 2 

Fall & Spring (August through May)

  • Attend a 2-3 day JLI retreat (late August or early September)
  • Complete an internship (120 hours) in Fall or Spring
  • Attend & participate in weekly or biweekly 1.5 hour seminar meetings
  • Give a Social Justice Internship presentation 
  • Attend a 3-6 day Spring Break trip
  • Collaboratively plan, launch, & participate in a CCSU social justice project or initiative.

Application Packet

  • Complete Application Form

  • Provide a two-page statement that discusses your interest in social justice and its meaning for you and your community; your activism; and what changes you would like to make.

  • Two reference letters from a CCSU faculty or staff member or high school teacher.

Contact Information

John Lewis Institute for Social Justice
Beth Frankel Merenstein
Interim Associate Vice President
Center for Community Engagement and Social Research
Lawrence J. Davidson Hall
Evelyn Phillips
Geography, Anthropology, & Tourism
Professor, Department Chair
Asian American & Pacific Islander Studies, Minor
Ebenezer D. Bassett Hall
Audra King
Associate Professor, Department Chair
Social Justice Minor
International Studies: Global Studies | BA
Willard-DiLoreto Hall