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The Cultural Center

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Programs & Services

Excelling Leaders Institute (ELI)

ELI 10 Year Celebration Logo

The Excelling Leaders Institute (ELI) seeks to create an open and inclusive campus environment for students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds as they transition to DU. ELI is a four year leadership development and community-building program that focuses upon and accentuates the strengths of all participants.

Originally introduced to the University of Denver campus in the summer of 2006 by the The Cultural Center and Academic Advising, ELI began with a cohort of 17 students and has rapidly grown into a network of more than 150 student leaders on campus. ELI is designed to support incoming first-year students make the transition from high school to college.

The program consists of a one-week training in the areas of academic preparation, leadership development, social identity development, campus networking, and many other key components to ensure overall student success. This includes the ability to move into the residence halls early. Throughout their undergraduate journey at DU, ELI will provide programs that address academic success, professional growth, social engagement, and leadership development to challenge them as individuals and equip them to active change agents.

All this encourages students to create a tight-knit community of support including their peers and other campus constituents. Students in the program have made friends for life through this program and say, "ELI is an experience that I would never trade."

ELI Application for Fall 2017 is now closed.

Deadline to apply was Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 11:59 PM MST

Sabrina Jain, Coordinator | Email
Tracey Adams-Peters, Director | Email

ELI Facebook Page

ELI Class Photos: 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I still participate in ELI even if I am signed up to live in a Living Learning Community?
A. Yes! The Excelling Leaders Institute is open to students that are participating in a Living Learning Community (LLC). When you select your housing, you can choose to live with the LLC. You will still need to complete the ELI application and still will have an opportunity to participate fully with ELI.

Q. What is the difference between ELI and Pioneer Leadership Program?
A. The Pioneer Leadership Program (PLP) is also an LLC. With the PLP you are also earning a minor in Leadership and taking classes with your PLP cohort. ELI is a social leadership program designed to assist you with opportunities to put your academic leadership component to work.

Q. What kind of activities does ELI have beyond the week-long institute?
A. ELI does not require you to take classes throughout the year. Pre-collegiate programs are designed to prepare you for the academic and social aspects of college before you enroll. Once accepted to DU, ELI will focus on building your academic strengths, prepare you to navigate DU and provide you with access to personal and organizational support in order to enhance your college experience.

Q. How much does ELI cost?
A. ELI is offered at NO COST to the participants, and is fully funded by the The Cultural Center.


"ELI was an absolute life changing experience for me, both during my time in the program as a Freshman and again as a Sophomore peer leader. Before starting college, I was nervous about how I would adjust to making such a big transition. I worried that I wouldn't make friends who I could truly connect with, and that I wouldn't be able to meet people with similar values and cultural interests. The ELI program completely eased all of my worries. It gave me access to resources on campus and enabled me to meet professors in various departments on campus before starting school. It also allowed me to develop true friendships; the people I met during the ELI program my freshman year are still my closest friends, on campus and in life. I highly recommend this program, it was amazing!" -Bweza I.

"For many, the first few weeks can be pretty hard to get through. You've transitioned into a world where you might not know anyone and sometimes making friends can be difficult. However, thanks to ELI, the first week I felt comfortable knowing that I had a strong community of friends that I could depend on. Offering help on homework, advice for the future, or just simply hanging out, we are all there for one another." -Jonathan S.

Contact us

We'd love to hear from you! Send us an email at