Our Work : Programs



Empowering youth by bringing learning to life

A proven program for students in grades 6-8

emPowerU is a place where youth are encouraged to think creatively and work collaboratively to address challenges and opportunities in their schools and communities. It’s a place where every voice is heard and all ideas are valued. More than 20,000 students have experienced the impact of our challenge-based immersions since 2007.

emPowerU offers 3 unique sessions (circuits) that build on each other and can be spread throughout one or several years.

  • Circuit 1

Circuit 1 is a student-led, problem-based learning experience. Students are presented with current challenges and guided through discussions, discovery, and consensus building by our professionally trained facilitators. Group presentations are delivered in front of all students and addressed to the emPowerU Council.  The adult-led Council asks questions and provides feedback after each presentation.

  • Circuit 2

emPowerU transforms into a new region of diverse communities for Circuit 2. Students become citizens of these communities and serve in specific roles (mayors, commissioners, lobbyists, researchers, etc.). Each city has the task of discovering its biggest need and then presenting that need at our student-led commissioners hearing. Communities then collaborate to discover ways to improve the region.

  • Circuit 3

Circuit 3 is a facilitated experience where students examine their own community and come to consensus on an issue they would like to address. Facilitators help the students identify obstacles and brainstorm solutions. Once a plan is in place, students may apply for a competitive Jump Starters grant to help fund their project. This circuit is optional. Students may apply for the grant if they select a project on their own.

The emPowerU registration fee is $15 per student per circuit. A minimum of 15 students is required for participation in any of the three circuits. If your group is fewer than 15, you may be paired with another group or organization.

Student Benefits

  • Self-directed learning
  • Consider multiple points of view
  • Gather information and assess credibility
  • Analyze and evaluate policy
  • Improve communication skills

Teacher Benefits

  • See new leaders emerge
  • Authentic skill evaluation
  • Experience constructivist/problem-based learning 
  • Missouri Learning Standards observation documentation
  • Provides debriefing opportunity for real life situations

Download printable program information

Download Registration Form

Contact us today to learn more and to register.

Experiences can be life changing

A glimpse of some of the comments we often hear from students at emPowerU explains why they think their learning experience was valuable.  

Here’s what a few had to say . . .

“It was really inspiring and showed me that I could be something amazing in life.”

“It builds friendships and self-confidence.”

“I felt like someone who was going to change the world.” 

“I can apply [what I learned] to school or at home and help out my community.”