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Apply for Acton University Today

The 2024 Emerging Leaders Application is now closed. If you are interested in other summer opportunities, please consider applying for Acton University, our flagship conference, which brings together over 800 leaders from 80+ countries every year. 


Fellowship applications are open through March 1 (international applicants) OR May 5 (domestic applicants).

ELP at a Glance

The Acton Emerging Leaders Program is an 8-week leadership development internship 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.
When: For summer 2024, the program dates are May 30th to July 24th 
Stipend & Housing: Each domestic participant will receive a $4,000 stipend plus housing. We provide housing at the Grand Valley State University - Downtown Campus. (Stipends for international participants will vary)
Application Deadline: Applications for the 2024 Emerging Leaders Program are now closed. The application for the 2025 Emerging Leaders Program will open in December of 2024.


Acton emerging leaders sitting and talking with Fr. Robert Sirico

Increase Your Understanding

Emerging Leaders will participate in 20+ graduate style seminars with affiliate and guest scholars. Past scholars have included Rev. Robert Sirico, Dr. Anne Bradley, Dr. George Nash, and Dr. Anthony Bradley. We desire for all Emerging Leaders Program participants to leave their time with us better equipped to make a moral defense for free enterprise. Through these seminars, participants develop a robust understanding of the Acton Institute's mission and vision.

All program participants also attend Acton University, our flagship conference, which brings together over 800 leaders from 80+ countries every year. Emerging Leaders are able to attend lectures and network with more than 60 lecturers from around the world.

Acton emerging leaders giving a presentation on stage

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 substantive projects. Each participant is paired with a department and works directly with the Director and staff. Past Emerging Leaders have written for our magazine, Religion & Liberty, provided research and guidance on publications, assisted programs with impact measurement and strategy, managed events, and developed new systems and processes. Emerging Leaders will execute a variety of projects to 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.

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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, law, academia, humanitarian work, and entertainment.

In addition to connections with Acton's local and global network, participants will be paired with a mentor for a year long formation. Mentor pairs will discuss career goals, skillsets, and vocation as the Emerging Leaders prepare for their future.

Apply Now!

Join the 2024 Emerging Leaders Cohort 

Positions Available

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

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Programs & Education

The Acton Institute hosts over 40 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 800+ people from 80+ countries each year. This program will enrich your professional network and equip you with a unique work experience.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • 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
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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 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.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Excellent written 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
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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.

Preferred Qualifications

  • 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
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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.

Preferred Qualifications

  • 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 Adobe Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve, and the Adobe Creative Suite, as well as other editing software programs is a plus
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The Acton Institute Research Department boasts a team of world-renowned scholars who publish important books and write for leading journals, magazines, and digital outlets. Focusing on research that advances a moral argument for free enterprise, Acton’s research fellows also speak at events around the globe and frequently appear on the podcasts, Acton Unwind and Acton Line. Emerging Leaders on Acton’s research team hone their writing and editing skills while conducting qualitative research as part of their robust academic experience. As an Emerging Leader for the Research Department, you will play a key role in supporting Acton’s scholarly mission. Topic areas for researchers in summer 2024 will include poverty and the family, poverty-focused non-profits, Orthodox social thought, history of economics, American founders, and conservative and classical liberal thought in Brazil.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
  • Experience with editing academic writing
  • Ability to explain complex information in concise and easy to understand ways
  • Desire to complete (or are currently completing) a graduate degree in a topic/field related to Acton’s mission
  • Reading ability in French, Portuguese, or Spanish is a plus
  • Prior experience writing for publication--either in school newspaper or elsewhere
  • Interest in the topic areas above
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Marketing & Communications

Over 2 million people interact with Acton Institute’s digital media platforms each year. This includes Religion & Liberty, Religion & Liberty Online, 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 Marketing & Communications department, you will have the opportunity to engage this broad audience of global influencers on a daily basis through the publication of articles, editing, social media interactions, and more. Acton’s talented team of marketing and communication professionals will work with you on a daily basis to develop and hone your written and verbal communication skills.

Preferred Qualifications

  • 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

The Executive Department, including the office of the President, oversees all aspects of the work at the Acton Institute. The department ensures that all outputs align with our mission and guide strategy for our programs. Participants in this department will work directly with executives to craft external facing outputs such as presentations as well as complete special research projects. Candidates who will thrive in this role are those who have a variety of skillsets and can translate large strategic initiatives into actions steps to move projects forward. 

Preferred Qualifications

  • Understanding of Acton mission and core principles
  • High professional etiquette and judgement
  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
  • Strong interest in leadership in the non-profit sector
  • Attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines
  • Experience with Constituent Relationship Management databases is a plus
Center for Social Flourishing
Center for Social Flourishing

The Center for Social Flourishing is a new initiative of the Acton Institute that seeks to promote integral human development, access to the institutions of justice, and local, entrepreneurial solutions to poverty in both the United States and around the world. Our goal is to reframe the discussion from combating poverty to establishing the conditions of justice and social flourishing that enable people to create prosperity in their own families and communities. The Center’s work includes multimedia projects, research, and conferences and events. As an Emerging Leader with the Center for Social Flourishing you will assist with academic and journalistic research for multimedia and writing projects, assist in the logistical planning and execution of several lecture and/or film screening events, and assist with social media content creation.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Strong writing, research, and communication skills
  • Interest in multimedia and social media
  • Interest in questions pertaining to American poverty
  • Attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines
Collins Center for Abrahamic Heritage
Collins Center for Abrahamic Heritage

In 2022, the Acton Institute founded the Collins Center for Abrahamic Heritage, a department dedicated to advancing research and education from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic perspectives on liberty, economics, and human flourishing. The Collins Center’s world-class educational programs include creating global networks of religious scholars, international conferences, book publications, and other resources. As the interfaith arm of the Acton Institute, the Collins Center diversifies Acton’s audiences and brings principles of a free and virtuous society to thousands of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders worldwide. As an Emerging Leader with the Collins Center, you will help grow this newer department, meet leading scholars from different faith traditions, and gain valuable experience in interfaith relations and program development.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Strong interpersonal skills, with ability to build relationships with people from different cultures
  • Interest in world religions and interfaith relations
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Creativity and interest in helping grow a newer department
  • Attention to detail with high competency in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Knowledge of different faith traditions, especially those of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is a plus

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