"At the Academy, we

spoke our truth."


Our 3-month leadership Academy is a residential program in Medellín, Colombia that prepares young Latin Americans with the tools to unlock their academic, social-emotional, and leadership potential. The LALA Academy centers on three pillars: Leadership & Social Innovation, Academic Readiness, and Social-Emotional Growth.


Who should apply?

What we're looking for?

How we select


Post-high-school students aged 16-20 who have attended a LALA Bootcamp or V-Camp and are passionate about creating positive change and impact

in their communities.

​Students with demonstrated leadership history seeking the tools and opportunity to impact their communities and

Latin America.

We review and select applicants using

four criteria: leadership potential,

sense of purpose, acts of service,

and values alignment.



Leadership & Social


The Academy curriculum centers on a core course called Leadership and Social Innovation (LASI). This course aims to provide students space to further explore their identity as leaders, work on projects that they care about, and build community with fellow scholars and faculty.

Academic Readiness


To prepare our scholars academically, The LALA Academy offers a focused selection of seminar courses based on exploring pressing Latin American matters from a range of academic fields. In the past, our course selection included courses like Latin American Literature, Data-Analytic Thinking, Re-shaping History, and Current Events.




At LALA, we believe deeply in the power of understanding oneself and one's relation with others. To promote the development of both interpersonal as well as intrapersonal skills, The Academy offers a set of extracurricular features, giving students the opportunity to process their growth in a variety of environments.




Our goal is that students learn.

Even outside classes.

The Mentorship Program

Throughout the duration of the Academy, each student has regular check-ins with a small group of other students and one staff member. The purpose of these mentorship groups is to allow students to express anything that may be alive for them at the moment. Whether it be directly related to LALA, their communities, their futures, or more, this intimate space aims to provide students the opportunity to hold their reflections and emotions with the support of others in the community.


The Internship Program

Each Academy student is placed in an internship based on their interests and desired skills. In the past, internships have run the gamut from helping to collect and synthesize data for LALA’s external relations to creating a digital record of each student's Academy journey. Internships will be managed by LALA staff members. They aim to further aid students in their leadership paths, helping them strengthen skills like group work, public speaking, data synthesis, writing, and more.


The Kitchen Lab

Just as LALA values students’ ability to nourish their minds and their hearts, we also believe it is important for students to understand what it means to nourish their bodies. To this aim, dinners at the Academy are prepared by students! Each student is divided into a smaller family group and, with the guidance of a group of local cooking experts, they each have the chance to prepare dinner for the whole group once a week. The cooking experts, endearingly referred to as Las Poderosas by the 2020 cohort, is a group of Colombian women, who support the students in preparing nutritious Colombian meals like arepas and sancocho, as well as group favorites, like quesadillas and flan! Through the Kitchen Lab, students take on the challenge of communicating across different languages and accents to work towards a common goal: filling their friends’ bellies.




Living Arrangements and 

Life in Medellin

Antonio, one of LALA’s core staff members, once described LALA as “a community that is dedicated to the idea of building community.” Fewer phrases have described our movement so aptly. At LALA we believe that community is everything, and one of the core components of building a rich one is learning to live together. The Academy provides students--and sometimes staff -- the opportunity to do just that. Students will live in shared apartments in Medellin’s El Poblado: a neighborhood famous for not only its safe and quiet nature but also its rich diversity, as it is home to much of the city’s foreign population. This population includes “implants” from other parts of Colombia, street performers, artists and vendors from places like Venezuela and Panama, immigrants from the U.S. and Europe, and much of LALA’s staff! Marked by grand mountainous backdrops and lusciously green streets, this neighborhood draws people from all walks of life, and from every imaginable corner of the world. 

In the past, students have interacted with the community in immensely creative ways, such as holding free Portuguese classes at a local community center, taking and contributing books to the local book exchange, attending community events and creative actions, and learning to salsa together to lively Colombian rhythms. Poblado offers a world of opportunities for engagement, and LALA staff work day and night to ensure the safety and security of our students in this vibrant neighborhood. 




$6,000 USD

$3,000 USD

$3,000 USD




(Tuition, room, & board)






To be paid


The cost of the Academy 2021 is $6,000 USD. This figure includes the cost of Academy and Fellowship tuition, room & board, all meals and snacks, healthcare and security measures, as well as a weekly allowance for each student. For more information about the weekly allowance, please see the For Parents and Caretakers section. Students who participate in full in the virtual Pre-Academy-Leadership Fellowship, from September 2020-August 2021, will receive a scholarship of $3,000 USD toward their Academy fee. Additionally, the virtual Pre-Academy Leadership Fellowship includes a detailed, team-focused fundraising plan and the opportunity to apply to additional merit-based scholarships. We know that $6,000 USD might look intimidating, but we are determined to approach the program costs as a team, attacking this challenge with a community-focused mindset so that the burden does not fall on students or their families alone. 

Let us support you in unlocking these funds, using our collective resources and networks. We are determined to secure a spot for everyone who wants one, and we are committed to growing our organizational capacity to do this.



Pre-Academy Leadership



The Pre-Academy Leadership Fellowship is a virtual afterschool program that aims to support students in preparing themselves emotionally, academically, and financially for the in-person Academy in Medellin. Students who participate in the Fellowship and successfully complete it will be offered an automatic $3,000 USD scholarship to their Academy Fees. It is a virtual program that features three key components: the Internship Program, the Mentorship Program, and Fundraising 101.

More on the Pre-Academy Leadership Fellowship

Sofia Amaral (BLB4 & A'20)

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

"This experience completely changed my life. I could learn not only about self-knowledge but also about what it means to be a Latina. Also, I connected with the most amazing young leaders of Latin America (that now I call best friends). The Academy is why I still dream with a better word to live."


"These past years, I have learned that the combination of knowing my interests, having autonomy on my education, and having a community that could support me was a revolutionary way of experiencing education. The Academy gave me all three of them."

Ernesto Nam (BLB9 & A'20)

Ciudad del Este, Paraguay



What our students are saying



Is there an age limit for Academy students?

Most Academy students admitted to LALA are between 16-22 years old. LALA invites any student who believes that LALA is the right fit for them to attend the Academy, so we are willing to make a few exceptions on a case-by-case basis. We do require that you be free of other commitments and able to attend the full residential program.

I’ve heard some people call the Academy a pre-college program. What if I do not plan on attending college after the Academy?

That’s perfectly okay! We realize that terms like “gap year” or “pre-college” might have confused some interested applicants in the past, so we’ve moved away from that language. Some students come to the Academy between high school in college, others are still in high school, others are already attending university, and a few do not plan to head to university at all! If you are a young leader looking for further leadership, academic, and social-emotional development, we want you here, regardless of the specifics of your next steps.

In what language will the Academy be conducted?

All Academy courses and activities will be held in English. This is so that our students and staff, who come from all over Latin America and speak many different native languages can communicate with each other. We also understand the global relevance of the English language and want to support you in your language development so that you can continue to leverage global resources, both within Latin America and outside of it. That said, it’s not LALA if it’s not multilingual! We welcome all languages and encourage students and staff to learn from each other. In the past, that has looked like students inviting staff to the Portuguese classes they teach to locals, Paraguayan students teaching their classmates the meaning of rohaihú, and Brazilian students holding space for the very important debate of how to correctly translate the word cookie to Portuguese.

Why does the Academy seem so expensive?

We understand that the fee might seem high at first glance, but it covers your entire stay in Medellin and all of the activities that come along with it. Once you arrive, you are not expected to need additional money for anything relating to the Academy. For reference, other enrichment programs of similar caliber charge students up to $4,000 USD for two weeks of programming. LALA works hard to make sure that the Academy is affordable for you and your family. Believe us when we say that we are committed to walking with you as you raise the funds.

I am interested, but I want to know more details. Who can I talk to?

Yay! We’re excited to get to know you even better through this application process! Feel free to talk to Marcelo about your questions. If it is not urgent, you can also email your questions to