Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA)

Be a courageous change maker who leads others in service and social enterprise

One-Page ALA Information Flyer (PDF)

Post-ALA Chicago "HIGHLIGHTS" Sight-Seeing Tour Flyer (PDF)

Download the ALA FAQ (PDF)

ALA Curriculum Description (PDF)

Program guide from the most recent ALA

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HOBY’s Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA) is a program for any U.S. or international high school junior or senior (ages 16-18 at the time of the program and have completed their junior or senior year of high school). Students are not required to have participated in other HOBY programming to be eligible to participate in the ALA.

Through the HOBY Advanced Leadership Academy, participants:

  • Understand and develop themselves along the seven dimensions of the Social Change Model of Leadership (SCM) and how they work together to accomplish the eighth dimension, change;
  • Use Gallup’s  Clifton StrengthsFinder ™ assessment to identify and understand their own strengths and capabilities;
  • Create a project action plan to lead and implement a service project or social enterprise in their home communities within one year following the ALA;
  • Meet new people and establish an ongoing network of peers, other leaders and social entrepreneurs; and
  • Earn college credit from George Mason University. 

College-Level Curricula

The program utilizes a college text, Leadership for a Better World: Understanding the Social Change Model of Leadership Development (LBW), a book written for students who seek to understand and demonstrate leadership to address social issues.  All ALA participants and volunteers read and utilize LBW throughout the program.

Action Plan for Service or Social Enterprise

The five days at the Advanced Leadership Academy are exciting and intense.  The Academy curriculum is designed to provide multiple ideas, information and resources to participants as they formulate an action plan.ALA Sponsor Thank You

The action plan makes the ALA different from any other high school leadership development program.  After over fifty years of training young people, HOBY knows that young people can lead social change but they often need additional training and support to do so.  The program helps participants develop their entrepreneurial skills and refine their vision into a plan of action to lead a service project or launch a social enterprise back in their home community.

Primary Groups and Project Coaches

Each ALA participant is a member of a small group called the “primary group,” led by a project coach.  The project coach is an adult mentor who has professional and volunteer experience leading projects and engaging volunteers.  Besides facilitating the small group experience during the ALA, project coaches also mentor individual ALA alumni as they implement their action plan back home.  Project coaches provide ALA alumni with additional guidance, inspiration and ideas to make their service project or social enterprise successful.

Post ALA Support

Leadership development and support do not end when the ALA program concludes and participants return home.  HOBY provides an online social network, group video calls and chats as set up by Project Coaches with their groups, and as-needed one-on-one individual support to ALA alumni as they implement their projects back home.

Every ALA alumnus and volunteer is invited to join the HOBY ALA Facebook group, a social network in which project resources are shared, project progress is reported and the overall sense of community is continued.

The project coaches will also conduct monthly check-ins with each member of their ALA group.  As the adult most familiar with their project action plan, they can provide suggestions, advice and encouragement to complete their plan.

Evaluation and College Credit

HOBY is proud to partner with nationally ranked George Mason University to offer college credit for successful completion of the Advanced Leadership Academy. George Mason University is ranked as one of the “Top Schools to Watch” by U.S. News & World Report, and as of the “Top 100 Best Values” in higher education by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Forbes. Learn more at


The George Mason University course, Special Topics in Leadership is a "Pass/Fail" course and students are evaluated based on their experiential learning opportunities throughout the ALA. Project Coaches (conference faculty) will monitor their active participation in simulations, contributions to discussions and demonstration of leadership and critical thinking skills in group and individual settings. Students will receive feedback on their progress throughout the conference. At the conclusion of the ALA, students submit their final project action plan for evaluation. One college credit (unit) from George Mason University is awarded for successful completion of the ALA.

Post-ALA, Project Coaches track project progress monthly and students submit monthly progress or milestone reports as they work on their project. ALA participants are asked to enter their hours into HOBY’s Leadership for Service (L4S) system. Once the project is completed students submit their final Project Completion Report and request to earn an additional two college credits. Students must follow the timeline and due dates initially provided at the ALA and pay the required tuition.



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