LDZ Program Updates

(Updated on 5/7/2020)

On April 1, 2020, the NHI Board of Directors adopted a policy to move some of the programs to a digital learning experience (online programs). The board emphasized the importance of “adopting practices that are in accordance with the guidelines, regulations, and rules intended to protect the public from the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure the safety and well-being of all of its participants, volunteers, and employees.”

The LDZ programs are postponed for 2021. Current and new applicants are automatically transferred to 2021 and are provided FREE access to NHI’s Digital Leadership Symposium this summer.

About the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session

Since 1982, high ability, high achieving 10th and 11th grade students have graduated from the competitive and transformative Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session (LDZ) experience designed for future community leaders.

You are invited to this eight-day intensive leadership experience filled with unexpected and unplanned challenges and hurdles. Known as “LDZ,” this experience is an opportunity for young people like you to learn how to navigate, manage and create large organizations by taking charge of your own youth government and proposing future community policies and projects.

“Intense. Mind-blowing. Amazing people. Unforgettable. Life-changing. Brain fry. A moment of real growth. Nothing like it. My world of opportunities just expanded.”

These statements are common descriptions used by 10th and 11th grade students across the United States and Latin America to explain the LDZ experience.

Since the first project in Austin, Texas, in 1982, students from over 25 states and four Latin American nations have convened at one of six host sites to play this leadership game of vision, influence and construction of communities of the future. Each host site serves between 150-200 students from throughout the United States and parts of Latin America.

Programs are fully staffed and supervised by fully certified NHI undergraduate Senior Counselors, graduate volunteers, and adult professionals who do an annual “Week of NHI Service” as Education Directors.


No matter what careers LDZ alumni hold today – doctors, lawyers, politicians, artists, engineers, educators, business people, etc., – they recognize that their LDZ experience helped them develop skills to manage organizational culture and the use of formal protocols. They also recognize the need to seek out opportunities to be bilingual, bicultural and understand the changing dynamics of the emerging Latino population of the future. LDZ gives you a platform to test out your ideas and opinions, while also gauging your own leadership strengths and growth potential among your peers. Due to NHI’s hemispheric reach, this summer you will quickly start fomenting long lasting relationships and power networks with some of the West’s brightest and most promising minds. Colleges and universities will also be certain to recognize how as an LDZ student you carry that special star quality they look for in candidates who will become campus leaders.



What to Expect

As soon as you arrive, NHI staff are there to greet you at the airport or on campus.


The very first afternoon begins with a series of social learning activities and icebreakers. We want you to meet new friends and really get to know the undergraduate and graduate school counselors. Weeks leading up to the LDZ, you will be asked to submit ideas for community change in proposals. You must also consider what leadership position you want to take on at the program.
The first evening, meet your counselor and have your first small group meeting. LDZ students stay in residences and NHI’s security team coordinates with the university to ensure that students are always with the group and safe at all times. Meals are served at the university cafeteria.


By the second morning an organization process called the General Convention begins with the intent to build a student government and leadership positions. By the end of the second day, a slate of candidates is determined and come Wednesday student leaders are being sworn in. For three full days you and every other student will take on an elected or appointed leadership role and collectively set out to adopt laws. You develop and present projects designed to radically improve the community’s future.


Later in the week take an excursion to explore the local area. The final day of the legislative session is commemorated with an closing ceremony, State of the Union address and the signing of student legislation. Students in the Supreme Court conduct their final trial before the full delegation and guests. One of the final nights you are invited to participate in a cultural talent show of music, art, comedy, dance and other original performances to share the rich traditions and culture of the LDZ members.


The week ends with a private college fair that promotes networking with NHI’s 75+ College Register In addition to having full access to NHI representatives during the school year, representatives from member colleges attend LDZs and participate in Collegiate World Series programs for 11th grade alumni. A formal awards presentation and Governor’s/Presidential Ball end the week, celebrating student achievement and excellence. Also get all the details on how to stay involved in Celebración, the Collegiate World Series and NHI’s JFL volunteer program.

How to Become a Delegate

If you are a college bound 10th (class of 2022) or 11th (class of 2021) grade student and have a minimum 3.2-3.3+/4.0 (standard) or 4.0/5.0 (weighted) or 88/100 GPA, with firm intentions of going to college, then you qualify for admission.

Applying is just the first step. You can download an application form by clicking here or you can visit the online application. Once we receive the application, verification of your grades and the application processing fee of $20 you will get notification of admission to the LDZ. From there you will work with a NHI representative on making arrangements for tuition and capturing other release forms and travel information. In the Spring semester you will be invited to participate in a series of online webinars, receiving pre-conference reading materials, briefing book, and guidance on how to draft your very own LDZ proposal.

How Much Does LDZ Cost?

The LDZ is NHI’s flagship leadership development experience. With a history spanning 35 years this summer, the LDZ has gained a reputation among hundreds of schools and institutions of higher learning including the publication of two doctoral studies documenting the results of the work. Depending on the region of the country and university host, the LDZ is estimated at a value of $1,900-2,400 per student and well worth it. Even at this rate, NHI is still a real value in comparison to other weeklong leadership camps or conferences.The good news is that your expected family/school contribution is only $925, which includes the $150 deposit. There is also a $20 application fee to process the application. How is this program so affordable, when other programs charge as much as $4,000 for a week?

If you qualify for admission, our university partners underwrite a large portion of the costs before you even apply. We also have an annual team of investors and volunteers who contribute resources and donate their time. Together these resources help make the NHI tuition more accessible to families and school entities. In addition, applying early gives you more time to find resources for transportation. Space is limited, so stake your claim early with an upfront tuition payment or work with our team on another option.

NHI’s cost reductions are built into the tuition.

2020 LDZ Total Costs ………………………………………………….
University Partners, Volunteers, and Sponsors ………………..
2020 LDZ Tuition ……………………………………………………….

– $1,005-$ 1,505
= $925 USD

Can I Fundraise?

As you read above, the LDZ would be much more expensive if NHI charged families for services that the university and volunteers provide. To make it even more accessible, half of NHI participants do some fundraising or find a school or community sponsor. NHI provides you all of the tools necessary to raise even a small portion of your tuition.

School Sponsorship

Some students work as a group or are assisted by a school club or administrator and get some portion of their tuition covered. Other times families may petition their administrators or school districts for assistance. Different school based programs that have supported NHI students in the past include: AVID, GEAR UP, Federal Programs, College Access/Readiness, Talent Search, Upward Bound and Migrant Education.

Community Sponsorship

NHI provides sponsor letters in English and Spanish that can be shared with community organizations and businesses. The intent of the letter is to explain the importance of investing in our young leaders, and that the young person seeking support is a top college bound student. It also explains the tax benefits they can receive by donating to NHI as a 501c3 nonprofit organization in the United States. You can download this letter at (insert link). You might want to visit local business that you and your family frequent.


Other times your parent’s employer may be able to invest and there are many nonprofit organizations that set aside dollars to support youth endeavors. Try looking up your local Hispanic/Latino Chamber of Commerce, groups like LULAC, ALPFA, SHPE, and even Latino resource groups within major companies in your town like Verizon, Seton, Coca Cola, IBM, Exxon and others.


Not that different from little league or everyone chipping in for a quinceañera, many NHI students raise their tuition by joining forces with family members, friends and supporters.

NHI provides an online tool that allows individuals to contribute as little as $5 to your tuition. With just a few minutes and clicks, you as an admitted student can customize a fundraising site and share it with close friends. Also, students can work with their parents and other supportive adults to tap their networks. You can choose to be creative and name your campaign to make it special. Afterward, thank all your investors and let them know how you enjoyed the LDZ experience with a photo! Set up your fundraising page at nhiyouthfund.kintera.org

What Happens After LDZ

After the LDZ experience you will start hearing from NHI about future opportunities that remind you of the valuable lessons we all share at the program. The campaign to join CWS or compete for a staff role starts in August and September. Throughout the fall semester, student leaders work with NHI to launch outreach and recruitment activities in their communities and schools. Celebración takes place in the late fall semester to end out the year with over 800 in attendance. And then you get ready for CWS and can also become an LDZ Junior Counselor by joining the national outreach team.

After high school, you are able to join or start a Collegiate Leadership Network once you arrive to college. Also, you can apply for admission to the John F. Lopez Research and Management Fellowship, the “NHI Internship.” Throughout college volunteering locally and participating in Celebración are ways to continue to build your network of NHI contacts and relationships. After college you will be able to continue engaging NHI as a senior volunteer, trainer, or ambassador but can also regularly connect with NHI alumni through our Professional Chapters throughout the Americas. You can remain as involved as you choose to be and connect to up to 80,000 members worldwide!

LDZ Host Universities

History of the LDZ

The LDZ was started in 1982 in Austin, Texas, as a two-day legislative session at the Capitol. In 1983 the program expanded to work with a statewide audience and it was lengthened to eight days. By 1990, the program was operating in three states and today is housed at six different locations. Despite thematic shifts and content adjustments, LDZ continues to engage students in a learning maze designed for the rigors of leading large organizations. LDZ students get a taste of real adult leadership by having to mobilize constituencies and networks, form and adopt policy, use protocols, rules, and operate within an organizational culture and a pre-designed complex system. LDZ is designed to give youth leaders the edge on successfully navigating, managing and creating organizations.

The LDZ program is named after the first provisional Vice President of the Republic of Texas, Lorenzo de Zavala, who was also a leader for democracy and liberty in both Mexico and the United States.


For More Information


Contact Julio Cotto, NHI Senior Vice President and LDZ Director at jcotto@nhimail.com or (512) 357-6137 ext. 211.



Briefing Book – In the Spring, a month before the program you will receive a final briefing packet. Included in this information is a schedule, university map, program details, packing lists, biographies on the education directors, information on the local host institution and local area, as well as health, safety, and security details. There is a briefing book that is specific to each of the six LDZs.

CelebraciónIn 2003, NHI started sponsoring an annual convention in the fall semester that would convene top awards recipients and outstanding delegates from all of NHI’s high school, college, and alumni programs. The event has been held in Corpus Christi, Austin, San Antonio, and currently in Dallas, Texas. Annually, approximately 700 NHI members attend the program that celebrates the vast talents of the youth membership and community at large. Features include NHI’s largest college fair, high level training on community social entrepreneurship, national talent show, featured alumni guests, annual alumni and community awards banquet, as well as an opportunity to get to know the city of Dallas.

Closing Ceremonies – The final day of the legislative session is traditionally Friday and is where the delegates officially sign their legislation into LDZ law. The event also allows the elected leaders to share public remarks including a State of the State or State of the Union address. The top attorney teams are announced who present during the Final Supreme Court trial and the Chief Justice is elected. Family members and school leaders are annually invited to participate in Closing Ceremonies, in particular the Texas LDZ, which is held in the Texas House of Representatives Chamber.

College Register – For well over 20 years NHI has maintained active and close working relationships with the admissions leaders and representatives of 75-100 colleges. NHI supporting institutions become official register members of the College Register which allows them to have a closer connection to the alumni and their families. Only College Register institutions are invited to participate in the LDZ fairs, CWS as coaches, the Celebración college fair, and they are the only schools that receive the student directory. College Register institutions have always presented great opportunities to NHI alumni. Some offer NHI specific scholarships and fee waivers while others take a special interest in NHI applicants.


Abilene Christian University

Adams State University

Amherst College

Arcadia University

Augustana College

Austin College

Bates College

Baylor University

Bennett College

Bryant University

Cabrini College

Case Western Reserve University

Centre College

Ciudad del Saber Panama City of Knowledge

Colby College

Colorado State University – Ft. Collins

Colorado State University – Pueblo

Concordia University Chicago

Cornell University

DePauw University

Drake University

Drexel University

Earlham College

Elmhurst College

Emory University

Florida International University

Fordham University

The George Washington University 

Howard Payne University

Illinois Wesleyan University

Iowa State University

Marquette University

Miami University (Ohio)

National Catholic College Admission Association

New York University

Northwestern University

Oberlin College & Conservatory

Our Lady of the Lake University

Pennsylvania State University

Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Louis University

Schreiner University

Simmons College

Southwestern University

St. Edward’s University

Swarthmore College

Texas A&M University – College Station

Texas Lutheran University

Texas Tech University

Trinity College

Trinity University

Tulane University

University of Arkansas

University of Houston

University of Minnesota

University of New Mexico

University of North Texas

University of Northern Colorado

University of Pennsylvania

University of Oklahoma

University of Rochester

University of San Diego

University of Tampa

University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Tyler

Vanderbilt University

Villanova University

Washington University in St. Louis

Wheaton College

Xavier University

Yale University

Collegiate Leadership Network “CLN” – In the early-1990s NHI established a formal college undergraduate organization. The Collegiate Leadership Network conference was a 4-5 day event held during the school year which would allow for members to expand their base of relationships while continuing the conversations from the summer. In the early 2000s, the CLN went beyond the continental U.S. with a conference in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and San Juan, Puerto Rico. After a brief hiatus, the CLN has been revived at Celebración with chapters in metropolitan areas and on college campuses. Members act as field volunteers in the community with NHI and learn from carrying out local outreach, recruitment, and fundraising. Annually, they are able to connect with the Professional Alumni Network locally and nationally at Celebración.

Collegiate World Series “CWS” – NHIers “graduate” from the organization’s high school programs at the Collegiate World Series (CWS). Only at the CWS do students receive official NHI honor cords and the NHI diploma. The program features the Tournament Series where representatives of NHI’s College Register coach students on the first hand truths and challenges of college admissions and financial aid. Students are grouped in college teams and practice their interviewing, essay writing, and self-marketing skills. The second half of the experience evolves to the Thought Series where students use Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) challenges to prepare for making important life decisions. CWSers leave the program equipped with the tools to successfully seek admission to a competitive four-year college and the know how to self-manage and self-navigate the real life human challenges and opportunities of one’s early adult years.

General Convention – The process for the first two full days of LDZ programming is called the General Convention. Business and action items challenge students to work as a team to advance.

Family Contribution – NHI learning experiences like most camps, retreats, conferences, and seminars have associated costs and financial obligations. Long ago, NHI ventured into this work by collaborating with university partners and community supporters to make the experiences more accessible to students. The LDZ alone would cost $2,100 on average if it were not for the investments made by our host institutions and team of volunteers. The tuition or family contribution for each experience reflects approximately one third of the total costs. In some cases, students qualify for support from their schools or school district. In many cases, students will employ NHI’s sponsor program or online fundraising tool to marshal their family contribution.

Excursion – When possible in the schedule, NHI offers a local excursion or recreational time for students at the LDZ and CWS. This excursion takes place usually midweek and allows for students to take a break from the intense learning and work environments. They are able to also get a better idea of the surroundings of the local host college. Students wear official NHI t-shirts on this day and are accompanied by the field staff and volunteers. There may be a nominal transportation or activity fee that will be assessed prior to the program. Details will follow depending on the program you register for.

Education Director – NHI’s faculty is made up of home office team members but primarily a certified and trained corps of alumni professionals. Annually, NHI alumni are nominated or appointed and undergo several sessions of advanced training in organizational dynamics, the Institute’s learning theory and pedagogy, and the study of community leadership in the Latino community. Education Directors also undergo training and coursework in sexual abuse prevention as well as receive a full background check. Their certifications are renewed annually with NHI’s home office. Normally, pairs of Education Directors are mobilized to lead and direct each NHI summer learning experience.

John F. Lopez, Jr., Research and Management Fellowship – Annually, NHI employs a team of undergraduate and graduate students who serve as interns at the home office in Maxwell, Texas. Named after NHI alumnus and current trustee John F. Lopez, Jr. who was the organization’s first junior staff member and unofficial intern. Students work with a sponsoring organization or their universities to underwrite ten weeks of service in the summer.

Junior Counselor – The LDZ has a team of volunteer staff members ranging from adult professionals to high school upperclassmen. Our high school volunteers that make up our LDZ junior faculty are called “junior counselors” or “JCs.” JCs earn their way back to serve as part of the operational management team, which comes with its own challenges and lots of learning, by recruiting at least 3 new LDZers. If selected, JCs spend 9 days managing the LDZ as volunteers. NHI covers the housing and meals for JCs and they pay for their own travel. Annually, NHI involves about 65 JCs.

Leadership Position – The LDZ experience is a hands on learning game that tests the participants’ ability to navigate and manage complex systems. The LDZ has a series of challenges that students undergo which requires the election, appointment, and selection of leaders. Several leadership positions or “roles” that are part of the LDZ experience include: party chair, party secretary, Governor, Justice, Senator, President Pro Tem, etc.

Meals – The tuition includes all meals with the exception of one dinner, which is ordinarily eaten out during a local excursion. The meals include the arrival day dinner through breakfast on the final day. It’s important to bring some extra money to cover: late night pizza orders with your friends, arrival day lunch, departure day lunch, and the excursion evening dinner.

Onsite Director – The Onsite Director is the day to day chief logistical and operational manager of the LDZ program. The Onsite Director is an adult selected from NHI’s alumni network and works with the home office in Maxwell months in advance to plan and coordinate.

Proposals – An LDZ proposal is a formal idea that you, a delegate, will present to the delegation. The LDZ delegation is comprised of the student House of Representatives and the student Senate, which reviews each proposal and determines which community projects are quality and viable. Your LDZ proposal should present an idea that will forever advance an aspect of the Latino community (culture, education, health, technology, etc.) and that can be implemented by you and your peers. More information on the details of this are sent in the Spring months prior to the program.

Residences – Students reside in the university dorms and are assigned roommates. Women and men are divided into separate buildings and/or halls by gender. All students are assigned a counselor who is responsible for their whereabouts, safety, and security. These individuals conduct nightly room checks after lights out. Students are strictly prohibited from going into dorms of the opposite gender or being outside of their rooms or dorms after curfew.

Security – NHI works closely with the university to ensure the safety and security of all students during the program. All NHI volunteers and staff must be cleared through a criminal background check prior to the program. Security checks include roll calls every morning during the first assembly, throughout the day, and during evening meetings prior to lights out. Unless on a planned excursion, students are not allowed to leave the campus or the group for any reason without the expressed consent of the Education Director. No visitors other than parents are allowed on the campus during the program, unless during published visiting hours. Students are not allowed to bring vehicles onto the campus. NHI has a Zero Tolerance policy on drugs, alcohol and firearms. Students are not allowed to leave their dorm rooms for any reason after curfew.

Senior Counselor – Senior Counselors (SC) at the LDZ are undergraduate or graduate school age volunteers that serve as group leaders of 12-15 students. When LDZers register the are assigned a color coded group or “dot group” that is led by an SC. SCs annually apply and undergo a review process. They also receive hours of training on safety, security, sexual abuse prevention, LDZ curriculum, and group management and team dynamics.

Transportation – NHI does not provide transportation to and from the university host city. However, NHI does provide a shuttle service to and from local airports, train stations, and bus stations for a nominal flat fee of $45 USD. Details are made available to students once their tuition is paid.

Tuition – NHI programs have costs associated with ensuring a quality learning experience in the summer. Like most week long leadership “camps” or “conferences,” the LDZs full cost runs between $1,300 to $2,000 per student. NHI tuition is much lower than the full cost because many expenses are underwritten by university partners, alumni, donors sponsors and volunteers. The tuition includes meals, materials, housing and the course. It does not include the Third Reality (approx. $15) reading material, one meal and spending money. It does not include transportation to the host city. NHI does offer local pick up and drop off services to the airport, bus or train station for approximately US$45 when students arrive within a particular time frame. As a 501(c)3 non profit organization, NHI tuition contributions from donors and sponsors are tax deductible. Ask your accountant how it might apply to you.

University Host/Partner – The university host/partner institution acts as the “home” for each NHI program. LDZ hosts include: University of San Diego, Colorado State University, University of Rochester, Elmhurst College, Texas Lutheran University, and the Ciudad del Saber. Aside from providing the facilities and space, each host institution makes a financial contribution towards the real cost of the LDZ.

Download/View the 2019 LDZ brochure and information card below:

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