Cornerstone Summer Institute


UPDATE: Today (March 26, 2021), we share sad news. In light of the ongoing pandemic, and the latest guidance from UVA, the 2021 Cornerstone Summer Institute has been cancelled. Last night, we received the following update from the President’s Office: “Due to public health concerns, residential programs this summer will be limited to UVA-sponsored programs whose participants are UVA students, faculty, and staff.” Please know that this was not an easy decision for us—we all work tirelessly throughout the year to make Cornerstone a wonderful experience for all of our campers.

In keeping with the mandate from UVA, we have to cancel this year’s Cornerstone Summer Institute. We do expect the camp will run again next year. If you are not graduating in 2021, please save your materials and submit them again next spring. In the meantime, we hope everyone is safe and practicing social distancing as we work together to flatten the pandemic curve.

The Cornerstone Summer Institute provides rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors with the opportunity to engage in historical investigation, archaeological excavation, and community engagement in order to learn and develop thinking skills that will prepare them for success in college and beyond.

Designed by members of the University of Virginia President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, the institute encourages critical thinking while students learn about both the University’s past and the modern-day legacies of slavery. Students explore the early history of the University by getting hands-on experience with archival records, by rolling up their sleeves on an archaeological dig where enslaved people lived and worked, and by learning–through community engagement–how the U.Va. story had an impact on the surrounding area. Students, in addition to collegiate skill-building, get the full U.Va. experience–living in dorms, eating in dining halls, meeting new friends, and exploring the Jefferson-designed school.
Guided by top faculty and a team of U.Va. students, participants explore the university, Charlottesville, and area landmarks, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Madison’s Montpelier. Every year, students leave the camp with a wealth of new knowledge, a passion for history, friends from across the country, and lasting memories. Watch students talk about their CSI experiences in this short video.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis from during the spring until the camp is full. The deadline for applying is April 1 each year.

Some financial aid is available for students with demonstrated need. If you have questions about the program, please contact Ashley Schmidt, Ph.D., at
 The inaugural camp ran from June 26 to July 1, 2016. To learn about the camp, please read this CSI post.

Are you a current UVA student who would like to work as a counselor? CLICK HERE to apply for a counselor position.

Questions about the Cornerstone Summer Institute? Please contact Ashley Schmidt, Ph.D., at

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