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ELP at a Glance

The Acton Emerging Leaders Program is an 8-week leadership development program in Grand Rapids, MI. The program brings together a cohort of student leaders from across the nation and globe for a transformative experience. During the summer, Emerging Leaders will gain professional experience, grow their network, and go deeper into the ideas of a free and virtuous society.    

  • Who: Current Undergraduate & Graduate students from all religious backgrounds
  • When: Applications for Summer 2023 will open in January. The program will run for 8 weeks in June and July. 
  • Stipend & Housing: Participants receive a stipend of $4000. We provide housing at the Grand Valley State University - Downtown Campus.
  • Application Deadline: We accept applicants on a rolling basis.
  • The Acton Institute partners with the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) for summer internships through their Koch Internship Program (KIP). Candidates accepted to KIP can also participate in our Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). Visit the Charles Koch Institute webpage to find out more information about KIP. To participate in both the Acton Emerging Leaders Program and the Koch Internship Program you will need to apply and be accepted to both programs.
  • If you have questions regarding the Acton Institute Emerging Leaders Program, please visit our FAQ page or email

Increase Your Understanding

We desire for all Emerging Leaders Program participants to leave their time with us better equipped to make a moral defense for free enterprise. One of the ways in which we accomplish this is through weekly scholar lunches on topics ranging from Hayek’s theory of social change to the purpose of education. Through these lunches with scholars like Rev. Robert Sirico, Dr. Sam Gregg, Michael Miller, program participants develop a robust understanding of the Acton Institute's mission and vision.

All program participants also attend Acton University, our flagship conference, which hosts over 1,000 leaders from 80+ countries every year. Emerging Leaders are able to attend classes and network with more than 60 lecturers from around the world.

Gain Professional Experience

The Emerging Leaders Program is not your typical internship program. We strive to provide participants with a rich educational formation and to engage them in day-to-day think-tank projects. Each participant is given the opportunity to interact substantively with leaders in their department. Past Emerging Leaders have published for the Acton Institute PowerBlog, provided research and guidance on publications, assisted programs with impact measurement and strategy, and developed new systems and processes. Emerging Leaders will execute a variety of projects which will help them assess their future vocation. 

We also believe it is important to equip program participants with soft skills to make them more competitive in an ever-changing job market. We do this through regular professional development seminars including professional etiquette, resume and cover letter workshops, and mock interviews. Through these seminars and workshops Emerging Leaders leave well-equipped to secure a job after graduation.

Build Your Network

Through participating in the Emerging Leaders Program, you will become part of a network of more than 200 leaders who have participated in Acton’s summer student programming. Past participants have gone on to work in think-tanks, pastoral ministry, government, consulting, private enterprise, academia, humanitarian work, and entertainment.

In addition to connections with past program participants, Acton Institute works to connect all program participants to young leaders in the broader West Michigan area through networking events and collaboration with other organizations.

Application goes live in January

Join interest list to be notified when application is live for summer 2023.

Positions Available

Learn more about specific positions we offer through the Emerging Leaders Program.

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Over 2 million people interact with Acton Institute’s digital media platforms each year. This includes the Acton PowerBlog, Longform Essays, Transatlantic Journal, Religion & Liberty, and other online publications. Acton also boasts a following of more than 1 million people across all social media channels. As an Emerging Leader in our Communications department, you will have the opportunity to engage this broad audience of global influencers on a daily basis through the publication of blog posts, editing, social media interactions, and more. Acton’s talented team of communication professionals will work with you on a daily basis to develop and hone your written and verbal communication skills.


  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
  • Prior experience writing for publication is preferred 
  • Ability to edit for publication
  • Attention to deadline and desire to work under tight deadlines
  • Dedicated interest in media, public relations, and marketing
  • Experience with front end/back-end web development is a plus


Every non-profit organization has a development team that tirelessly works to inform investors and potential investors of the impact that an organization is achieving. At Acton Institute, we view our development team as the “fuel that keeps the engine running.” Without a strong team of fundraisers committed to advancing the mission, Acton Institute would not exist. We want you to join our talented team of experienced development staff through our Emerging Leaders Program. Through this role, you will be equipped with the skills and technical know how that will allow you to pursue a professional development career in nearly any non-profit organization that you desire. You will not only gain a better understanding of how to effectively articulate an organization’s mission to outside stakeholders, but also learn the technical side of the development profession.


  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
  • Desire to pursue a professional career in the non-profit industry
  • Experience using Constituent Relationship Management databases is preferred 
  • Attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines
  • A strong grasp of Acton’s mission and core principles


Are you interested in pursuing a career in non-profit accounting? By joining our accounting team as part of the Emerging Leaders Program, you will have the opportunity to work directly with Acton’s team of experienced accounting professionals--including working directly with the CFO. In addition to general finance support, you will be able to work with Acton’s bookshop and e-commerce platforms in order to discover innovative ways to streamline processes and support increasing sales and distribution. By working in Acton’s Finance department, you will have the opportunity to hone a unique set of skills that will prove valuable in future career aspirations. 


  • Possess knowledge of retail sales and inventory management
  • Understand fully the accounting cycle and how it is applied to a sales operation
  • Have the ability to independently learn and further advance new systems
  • Be able to recognize opportunities for improvement in systems and procedures and offer alternatives
  • Desire to pursue a career in the accounting field is preferred

Program Outreach

Acton Institute hosts over 70 events around the globe each year on topics including crony capitalism, social justice, communism, moral foundations of a free society, and much more. Our Programs & Education team spends a significant amount of time planning content, recruiting leveraged attendees, setting schedules, and developing strategy for these high impact events that bring the Acton Institute mission to thousands of global leaders each year. As an Emerging Leader in our Programs & Education department you will have the opportunity to collaborate with our talented team of experienced professionals to develop content and programming to be distributed around the globe. You will also have the opportunity to gain real experience behind the scenes at our annual conference, Acton University, that brings 1,000+ people from 80+ countries each year. This program will enrich your professional network and equip you with a unique work experience.


  • Understanding of Acton mission and core principles
  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
  • Strong interest in program development and impact measurement
  • Ability to identify opportunities for innovation
  • Attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines
  • Experience with Constituent Relationship Management databases is a plus


As an Emerging Leader in our Media department, through various communication and media products and platforms, you will assist in all aspects of production, including podcasts, videography, photography, and live event production, to further the reach of Acton’s mission to a worldwide audience. Projects will include working on our media archives in the CatDV system, producing edited content, assisting with audio and video recording at Acton events, and assisting with photography and film shoots. Training will be provided.


  • A professional and positive attitude
  • Willingness to learn and advance the mission of the Acton Institute through our media department
  • Background in videography, photography, and editing is a plus
  • Experience in working with Final Cut Pro, as well as other editing software programs is a plus


Acton Institute’s research department boasts a team of world renowned scholars that are frequently published in industry leading journals, magazines, and digital outlets. Focusing on qualitative research that advances a moral argument for free enterprise, Acton’s research team speaks at hundreds of events around the globe as well as publishing up to 20 books each year. As an Emerging Leader on Acton’s research team, you will play a key role in supporting the work of leading scholars through conducting qualitative research and academic editing projects. Through this work, you will have the chance to hone your research abilities while adding a robust academic experience to your CV.


  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
  • Experience with editing academic writing
  • Ability to consolidate complex information in concise and easy to understand ways
  • Prior experience writing for publication--either in school newspaper or elsewhere
  • Desire to complete (or currently completing) a graduate degree in a topic/field related to Acton’s mission

Application Requirements

Applicants applying to The Acton Institute Summer Emerging Leaders Program are required to submit the following:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Resume
  3. Short writing sample reflecting your perspective on The Acton Institute’s mission
  4. Letter of recommendation (from either a current or past college professor)
  5. Online application