What is the SLP Model?

Whether integrated into the regular school-day, offered as an after-school club, or facilitated remotely with young people participating from across the country, every SLP project follows the same proven effective five phase model, detailed below. Each project typically lasts 12 weeks, but the timing is flexible so to best meet the needs of our school and community partners. The ultimate goal is to give young people the opportunity, tools, confidence, and support they need to create real change in their community both during and beyond the life of an SLP project. Here is a breakdown of the five phases:


During the first phase, students consider their community and brainstorm social issues of concern. For our younger students, the community can be narrowly defined as the classroom or club. The community expands with the age of the students, with older grades encouraged to consider issues ranging from a school or neighborhood problem, to a city-wide or national issue, to an international crisis. Guided by SLP Faculty, students come to consensus on one issue, a process that includes small group pitches. This exercise is an early opportunity for the students to explore an essential SLP question: how do we persuade?


Once an issue is selected, students enter an intensive research phase during which they become experts on their social problem. They determine the cause and impact of the problem, existing policies or methods to address it, and a better strategy for preventing or solving it. This phase could include gathering data through surveys and petitions; interviewing or writing letters to people or organizations with knowledge of the issue; reading books, magazines and newspapers; doing research on the internet; meeting in person with local legislators and adults working in the field; and taking field trips.


Student-led research continues throughout the project but once they have enough information, SLP Faculty and partner site staff guide students through the creation of an Action Plan. Whether it’s their school administration, adults and other young people living in their community, or the legislators representing them, students will persuade them to adopt a new policy or change their behavior in order to effectively address the social problem they select. The action students take varies greatly depending upon the issue they choose.


Students implement the action they have designed. This may involve several activities over a period of time, or a one-day culminating event. If their solution requires approval, this phase will include the creation and delivery of a formal advocacy presentation.

Want to learn more about how SLP youth affect change? Check out our ’20-21 Impact Report.


Critical reflection takes place throughout the process as students investigate the root causes of social problems and the possible courses of action for solving these problems. After the execution of a project, it’s important for students to also evaluate the personal impact of the experience. Students are encouraged to consider what they learned about themselves and what skills they developed. How can they use these new skills going forward? Do they feel a responsibility to take a leadership role? Do they feel more optimistic about their ability to solve problems in their schools and neighborhoods? Do they have a better understanding of the possible avenues of change?

This phase of the process can also include formal or informal recognition and celebration of their success. And, if they haven’t done so already during the Execution phase, students can share what they have learned with their school, parents, and other community members.