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Young Innovators Climate & Energy Program

young innovator climate and energy students pose for a group picture

To meet the global energy challenge, the next generation of climate and energy scientists must address the need for reliable, affordable energy to foster economic growth while averting climate change and damages to the environment. The Young Innovators Climate & Energy Program is a week-long enrichment program designed to prepare high school students for future careers in climate and energy policy. This program is offered in partnership with Invenergy, an industry leader in renewable and clean energy generation and the Polsky Foundation.

    "I loved everything about the YICES program. From being taught by graduate faculty every day to socializing with peers from around the country, I got to open my mind to new perspectives and solutions to climate and energy issues that I have never thought of."
    Adam K., 2023 Polsky/Invenergy Scholar and UChicago Class of 2028 -

    Program Description

    This one-week residential program provides talented and ambitious students a window into future careers in the realm of climate and energy policy. Through rigorous discussion-based classes, readings, lectures, and collaborative hands-on projects, students will learn about pressing current issues in climate and energy from leading faculty in the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), the Becker Friedman Institute, and the Climate Impact LabStudents will also be exposed to the kinds of opportunities available in a large urban center for academic work and professional development (as well as just for fun!) through activities that showcase the city of Chicago, including a tour and discussion panel with industry professionals at Invenergy's Chicago headquarters. Invenergy team members will speak to their experience working in different parts of the industry and provide an inspiring example to students of what they can do with STEM degrees. Advancements in climate policy and sustainability efforts will require the collective efforts of a diverse community. Students of all backgrounds who value diversity of thought and experience are encouraged to apply. 

    The program will be hosted on-campus, and program participants must reside in campus housing for the duration of the program. This program is being offered at no cost to selected participants, and participants who require financial assistance for travel to and from campus are eligible to receive additional funds.

    Program Contact: All questions should be directed to Willem Gerrish at

    Application Requirements

    Eligibility: Current 11th grade students, who are at least 15 years old, and enrolled in a U.S. high school, are invited to apply. 

    Applications will be accepted online. The deadline to apply is our Regular Deadline, March 5, 2024. All application decisions for this program will be released at the same time in late April. There is no application fee to apply.

    Applicants must complete the Summer Session Application and all related requirements, which can be reviewed in the How To Apply section.

    Application materials include:

    • Online application
    • Transcript
    • Supplement & essays
    • At least one teacher recommendation
    • At least one parent/guardian confirmation email received

    Applicants will be asked to respond to the following essay questions in the application:

    • Why did you choose the particular program/courses for which you have applied? How are they related to your current interests and future plans? Please be as specific as possible, and make sure your response covers each of the courses you elected. (Limit: 500 words)
    • “Since its founding, the University has been committed to the idea that a culture of rigorous inquiry requires an environment where diverse perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas inform and stimulate intellectual exchange, challenge, and engagement.” -UChicago Office of the Provost. How would you contribute to this culture of inquiry in this program? What do you hope to gain or learn by engaging with peers from all over the U.S. or from different parts of the world? (Limit: 300 words)

    Review the Application Overview pages for more detailed information.

    Costs & Fees

    The application fee is automatically waived for any applicant who selects any Enrichment Program as their first choice.

    Costs, inclusive of tuition, room, and board, for this program are completely covered. Students will need to have their own health insurance and will need to provide their own transportation to and from campus.

    Students who require financial assistance for roundtrip transportation to and from campus may apply for additional funding by completing the Financial Aid Application as part of the Summer Session application.

    Program Dates

    July 28-Aug 2, 2024

    • Arrival date: Sun. Jul. 28
    • First session: Mon. Jul. 29
    • Closing session: Fri. Aug. 2
    • Move-out: Fri. Aug. 2

    *As of January 12, 2024 the dates of this program have changed. We apologize for any inconvenience.