Notre Dame to pilot youth camp focused on innovation

Author: Notre Dame News


In collaboration with corporate partners and local community organizations, the University of Notre Dame will offer a pilot Innovative Thinkers Camp, a two-week summer experience created to encourage local youth to pursue individual achievement in academics and areas of future career interests.

Open to area seventh- through ninth-graders, the camp is sponsored by numerous Notre Dame departments, as well as Intel, Lenovo, the Lincoln Division of Ford Motor Company, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., La Casa de Amistad Inc., 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend and the Memorial Health System Pfeil Innovation Center.

In addition to helping area students explore their potential, the camp also aims to cultivate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Michiana region by nurturing the pipeline that feeds local economic development. This experience is designed for students to participate over three consecutive summers:

  • Year 1: Rising seventh-graders will focus on learning about entrepreneurship and the skills necessary for individual success.
  • Year 2: Rising eighth-graders will focus on project-based learning and will develop the competencies needed to be an effective member of a team.
  • Year 3: As rising ninth-graders, students will polish the skills acquired in the previous two summers with a capstone project that incorporates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and sustainability.

The camp will be held June 11-22 at Notre Dame Downtown, 217 S. Michigan St., South Bend, bringing together 20 youth from four nonprofit organizations within the city of South Bend: The Emerging Young Leaders Program, sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; La Casa de Amistad; the Freedman Academy sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend; and the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC).

Participating Notre Dame departments are Community Relations at ND Downtown, the Hesburgh Libraries, Multicultural Student Programs and Services, TRiO and RCLC.

Intel and Lenovo are donating laptop computers that the students will use during their three years with the program. Lincoln will bring engineers, technicians and other professionals to speak with camp participants about the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship, and how it applies to their future goals. In addition, Lincoln is planning a day of games, contests and competitions to be held at the College Football Hall of Fame on June 15 (Friday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For every contest participant, Lincoln will make a donation to the Innovative Thinkers Camp.

Camp participants will have an opportunity to engage with local entrepreneurs as well as students and alumni of the University and will spend two days at the Pfeil Innovation Center developing their own innovative concept. Each student has a mentor assigned to them by their sponsoring organization and will have opportunities for academic support throughout the year. The program is designed to be replicated for use by other community organizations so the program can be expanded throughout the region, thereby impacting the local economy by preparing a generation that possesses the skill set necessary to be successful as employees and innovators.

Additional information is available at

Contact: Jacquelyn Rucker, Notre Dame Community Relations, 574-631-3249,