The Sunrise Leadership Academy (SLA), launched in 2009, is a hands-on, real-world civics program for Sunrise high school students. Through the SLA, the City seeks to expose teens to the many opportunities the public sector presents - from employment to activism. The program’s ultimate goal is to foster a new generation of informed, civic-minded leaders.
Each academic year, the SLA is comprised of approximately 22 students selected by teachers and administrators from Piper, Plantation, Western and Nova high schools. The SLA’s highly motivated juniors and seniors meet the following criteria: a minimum grade point average of 3.2; an interest in government and civic leadership; a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer service; and demonstrated ability as a student leader, with active involvement in at least one extracurricular activity. In addition, students are required to submit an essay on the topic of leadership.
The SLA meets one day per month, October through April, during school hours. City staff members shape the SLA’s core curriculum, while guest speakers contribute their expertise on a range of topics. Sessions have addressed such issues as career readiness, entrepreneurism, bullying prevention, and resource conservation. There is also a strong focus on team building, ethics and leadership.
In recent years, the SLA has included a service learning project completed by teens in collaboration with local businesses, non-profit groups and schools:
- 2012-2013 – Development of a Little Free Library network in Sunrise
- 2013-2014 – Implementation of an Urban Gardening initiative
- 2014-2015 – Creation of the “Kids’ Guide to Sunrise” (guidebook)
- 2015-2016 – Launch of a Cyber-Seniors mentoring program with the Sunrise Senior Center
Students graduate from the program at a City Commission meeting in May, where they are honored with certificates of achievement. There is always a full house of family members and school representatives.
The SLA program is a recipient of the Florida League of Cities’ Florida Citizenship Award and the Broward League of Cities’ Community Spirit Award. However, the SLA’s greatest achievement is its positive and lasting impact on students. Program alumni remain in contact with the SLA facilitators – often requesting letters of reference, resume help and networking opportunities.
For more information about the SLA, call (954) 747-4662.