The INSPIRE Pre-College Program is a fully funded, 3-week summer immersion program that provides Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian high school students with the opportunity to explore federal-tribal relations in Washington, D.C.
Through university-level coursework and site visits across the capital, students gain a better understanding of the U.S. political system, Indigenous advocacy, and tribal sovereignty while earning 3 college credits from the George Washington University.
The Program At a Glance
All applicants must apply through the online application portal.You will be asked to provide the following:
1. High School Transcript
2. Proof of Tribal Enrollment or Ancestry
3. Recommendation Form completed by a teacher or counselor
4. A 350 Word Essay: Please write an essay stating why you are interested in the INSPIRE Pre-College Program and what you hope to gain by completing it. Strong essays have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and they illustrate a strong interest in public service, advocacy, and politics. How do you currently serve your community, or how do you want to serve your community in the future?
All application materials must be received by the deadline of March 10, 2021.
The INSPIRE Pre-College Program is a full scholarship open to Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian rising junior and senior high school students, as well as anticipated 2021 graduates.
INSPIRE is a three-week program centering on the full-day, experiential undergraduate course, “Native Politics and the American Political System,” which provides students with the opportunity to meet and interview influential individuals working in tribal policy, Indigenous advocacy, and other fields in Washington, DC.
The INSPIRE Pre-College Program runs for three weeks during the summer months, with program dates typically falling between late June and late July. The program is typically held in Washington, DC on The George Washington University Mount Vernon campus. In 2021, the program has transitioned to a fully virtual format due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sample In-Person Student Schedule
Actual student schedules may vary.
9:00am-12:00am: Class/Site Visit
1:00pm-3:30pm: Class/Site Visit
3:30-6:00pm: Independent or Group Study Sessions; College Prep Workshops
7:30-9:00pm: Residential Events and Activities/Free Time
Weekends: Program Activities and Off-campus Excursions
In addition to the daily meetings and class lectures, the INSPIRE students work on individual and group research projects that focus on important local and national Native issues. At the conclusion of the program, students submit fully developed policy memos and formally present their research.
INSPIRE funding is made possible by generous contributions and grants from AT&T and the AT&T Foundation. INSPIRE scholarships are awarded to students based on academic ability, leadership potential, and demonstrated interest in politics and community advocacy. Strong candidates are successful students who show initiative, who actively serve their schools and communities, and who are committed to making a difference in Indian Country. The selection committee takes a holistic approach when reviewing applications and considers grades, extracurriculars, community involvement, essays, and recommendation letters in the context of the whole person.
- Students from all tribes and from every part of the United States are welcome to apply, including Native Hawaiians and Alaska Natives.
- Students must be enrolled in a federally or state-recognized tribe, or, they must have other proof of descent. Proof of tribal enrollment can come in the form of tribal ID cards, official CDIB documentation, official letters from tribal enrollment offices, and more.
- There is no application fee to apply to the INSPIRE Program.
- One course in Native Politics and the American Political Systems (3 undergraduate credit hours)
- Room and board at GW
- Airfare to and from Washington, D.C. (one round-trip ticket)
- All required textbooks
- Required local travel related to the course
The INSPIRE Pre-College Program aims to empower the next generation of young Indigenous leaders, and students are selected for their leadership potential and commitment to bringing positive change to their communities. The selection committee looks for students with a strong academic record, or history of significant effort and improvement, as well as evidence that the student is an involved community member. Successful letters of recommendation will:
- Explain how you know the student and for what length of time
- Provide evidence of the student’s leadership potential, community involvement, and service activities; the most effective examples clearly show a student’s interests, enthusiasm, and dedication to solving tribal issues.
- Give examples of a student’s personal characteristics and unique qualities
- Summarize the positive impact the student has made in one or more areas of academics, service to the community, extracurriculars, etc.
References are responsible for uploading their letters of recommendation to the application portal by the deadline.
5 Great Reasons to Support the INSPIRE Program
of ‘19 INSPIRE scholars rated the program as “Excellent” or “Good”
of ‘19 INSPIRE scholars would recommend the program to other students
of ’19 INSPIRE scholars said the program positively impacted their plans for college
of ’19 INSPIRE scholars said the program positively impacted their career plans
of ’19 INSPIRE scholars reported that the program increased their interest in civic engagement
INSPIRE Program Director
Kawika Riley is the Director of Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships Kupu, Hawaiʻi's largest youth-oriented conservation nonprofit. He is also a PhD Candidate in Political Science at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, in Public Policy and Indigenous Politics. Kawika Riley has spent the last 15 years working in government, Indigenous institutions, and academia. His career in public policy started in Washington, DC, attending GWU's Graduate School of Political Management in the evenings while working during the day. Since then, he's had opportunities to see powerful institutions working from up close: as Communications Director and Legislative Assistant at the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs; as a National Spokesman for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration; and as the co-founder of a nonprofit corporation. Kawika's last job in DC was running the DC Bureau of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, an independent state agency established to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians. Since moving home to Hawaiʻi, he's served as OHA's Chief Advocate, chaired a state commission, and served as Statewide Manager for Community Change Initiatives for the Liliʻuokalani Trust. In his capacity at Kupu, he's working to expand the nonprofit's impact in empowering youth, healing land, and economic revitalization.