Building the Young Conservative Movement

Leadership Institute partners with TeenPact to train Christian high school youth

Seventy dedicated Christian youth aged 14-19 spent five days at the Leadership Institute to train for a lifetime of activism and leadership.

With a strong commitment to advancing faith and freedom through community and civic engagement, these students came from 41 states for their annual adventure known as ‘Back to DC’ – a program run by TeenPact.

Founded in 1994 and based out of Richmond, Virginia, TeenPact is a dynamic, hands-on leadership school for Christian students.

TeenPact works to train youth to understand the political process, value their liberty, defend their Christian faith, and engage the culture.  The Leadership Institute has partnered with TeenPact for 19 years to help these students achieve those goals.

Five intense days of training at the Leadership Institute

During the five-day program in October, experienced Leadership Institute faculty taught students political lessons, including:

  • The Real Nature of Politics
  • Campaign Structure and Organization
  • Developing Effective Speeches and Literature
  • Voter Outreach
  • Media and Public Relations

“Every year, this is the only group of students that intimidates me,” said Steven Sutton, the Leadership Institute’s Vice President of Development.  “They’re razor sharp and brilliant.”

After addressing the group, Steven asked if there were any questions – nearly every hand in the room went up.

“Each student showed a level of maturity and intellect well beyond their years,” said Steven.  “They process information quickly, add context from their personal experiences, and extrapolate to the next level.  You can practically see their brains growing right in front of you.”

TeenPact’s training program also included several visits to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and visit the institutions that comprise America’s constitutional government.

Turning campaign knowledge into experience

Students participated in campaign exercises where they applied their political lessons to run mock presidential campaigns – complete with press conferences, letters to the editor, and targeted voter outreach. 

The culminating activity was a presidential debate where each team uniquely and creatively put their theories into practice.  Five Leadership Institute and TeenPact judges rated six teams based on performance in all areas of their campaigns.

Outstanding young graduates win elections

Several outstanding Leadership Institute graduates got their start through TeenPact, including:

  • Jessica Koehler – After an internship and several trainings with the Leadership Institute, Jessica went home to manage her father’s campaign – and propelled him to election victory to the Ohio House of Representatives this past November.
  • Jennifer Sullivan – This 23-year-old took the Leadership Institute’s Youth Leadership School and learned how to organize volunteers for campaign victory.  Jennifer is now the youngest woman ever elected as a state representative in Florida.

Youth already putting their training into practice

TeenPact students filled the Leadership Institute’s classroom with energy, enthusiasm, and determination to make a difference – ready to apply their training in their communities.

“I learned so much this week and I’m really motivated to become more active in my state’s government,” said Rachel Bass.  “I’ve already started helping on my lieutenant governor’s campaign for re-election in 2016.  I wouldn’t have gotten involved in the campaign if it hadn’t been for TeenPact and all the Leadership Institute speakers we heard from.”

Donor support makes this exceptional teenage training possible and allows the Leadership Institute to cultivate conservatism in teens before they meet with the onslaught of liberal bias and indoctrination on college campuses.

The Leadership Institute offers 44 types of training programs, working with more than 1,602 active conservative student groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers.  Since the Institute’s 1979 founding, more than 162,508 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained.  Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders.  For more information, please visit: