Residential Programs

CSIS 2019 Summit

Join us for our largest ever residential program, a three-day summit at a mineral springs resort in San Luis Obispo, California. We’ll gather and prepare ourselves to step into 2020 with refined intentions, responsive mindsets, and refreshed spirits.

The 2019 CSIS Summit is a celebration combining “conference” with “retreat”. It will be taking place from December 2-4, 2019 at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort, a location that has been a source of rejuvenation since the late 1800s. The event marks the end of 2019 and presents an opportunity to move forward into the next decade with intention. It also marks the 5 year anniversary of CSIS. To celebrate, we will be presenting brand new content that better supports our community in creating a greater impact. And no CSIS residential program is without authentic community-building. You’ll leave the Summit with a greater sense of where you’d like to go and a community of like-minded champions to support you along the way.

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Ready to apply? Let’s go! (Also, there’s financial aid.)

New Decade, New Intentions

Step away from your day-to-day and reflect on what you’ve accomplished thus far. Given the uncertainty of our times, it’s more important than ever to develop a clear sense of direction as we step into this decade together.


For almost 200 years, the hot springs at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort have been a place of rest and recovery. Every suite boasts its own hot tub, fed directly from the mineral spring. The resort, nestled on 100+ acres of woods and along the Pacific Coast, also provides daily yoga classes and an onsite farm. Self-care is an essential part of social impact work. We’ve designed the summit to help you slow down and recover. 


To celebrate our 5th anniversary as a Center, we’ll be unveiling some new content that is responsive to today’s social impact climate. You’ll leave with new tools to further enable your work in the new year.


CSIS events have become known for their capacity to drive deep connections and lasting community. You’ll meet like-minded doers, many of whom will continue to support you in your work.

Key Details

December 2-4, 2019
San Luis Obispo, California
Program Fee
$895 for alumni / referred guests, $1,250 for new attendees
Accepting registrations through November 1, 2019
Financial Aid
Scholarships are available. We encourage you to register regardless of your capacity to cover the program fee.

California’s Central Coast

Nestled within the Central Coast of California’s pristine Avila Valley, the Sycamore Springs Resort & Spa is located on over 100 wooded acres. Since the late 19th century, the Resort has been a popular retreat and is committed to providing a deeply relaxing and rejuvenating experience for all guests. San Luis Obispo itself is a beautiful part of the Pacific Coast, spotted with award-winning vineyards, hot mineral springs, and cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean– there’s no shortage of inspiration here.

An opportunity to reset, reflect, and refine our goals.

Day 1

We’ll start the program around 12:00 pm at one of the local vineyards in San Luis Obispo, located within 15 minutes of the airport, where we’ll have a light lunch and a wine tasting. After some opening words, we’ll head to the resort to get you settled into your suite. Programming starts up again at 4:00 pm, where you’ll meet your cohort and begin to refine your intentions for the retreat. We’ll reset our mindsets and prepare for an intensive experience together. After a farm-to-table dinner and opening celebration, we’ll set up a bonfire and continue enjoying some of the local wines before winding down for the day.

Day 2

The day begins with optional early morning activities. You may choose to hike to the cliffs overlooking the ocean, take a yoga class, soak in your mineral springs hot tub, or just sleep in. Breakfast will be available to you anytime in the morning, but our programming starts at 9:30 am. We’ll create some space for you to reflect on your past year so that we can envision and imagine an intentional and informed future. We’ll then break into a series of workshops, led by faculty from the University of Pennsylvania. Topics will be finalized in the coming weeks, but are reflective of today’s most pressing issues; examples of workshops include digital storytelling, building large-scale movements, equitable design-thinking, and the philosophy of self-discovery. Following lunch, we’ll move into group work, where we’ll facilitate connections among summit attendees based on impact areas and geography; you’ll have an opportunity to explore potential collaborations, learn from the genius in the room, and walk away with tangible connections and follow-ups.

Day 3

Following our optional early-morning activities, we’ll regroup at 9:30 am and begin making our action plans. Using proven methodologies, we’ll develop plans for the new year that are intentional, resilient, and responsive to your community’s needs. Then, we’ll share our latest toolkit with you, a newly redesigned collection of over 50 strategic tools that help you navigate and solve complex social issues. The program will formally conclude at 2:00 pm, leaving you time to make it back home by the evening. Otherwise, you’re welcome to stick around for our informal happy hour.

We’re excited to invite all impact-driven leaders and practitioners.

CSIS alumni and referrals receive a subsidized program tuition. Above all, we’re looking to convene individuals who are deeply committed to social impact work and are looking for an opportunity to reset, reflect, and refine their commitments moving into the new year. 

Alumni eligible for the subsidized program tuition include 2014-2019 Graduates of the CSIS Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy, CSIS Impact Houses, Penn Impact Lab, Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership, NAS Creative Community Fellows, and NAS Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy. 

Financial Aid

We have a limited number of need-based scholarships available for this program. CSIS is committed to providing accessible education to individuals pursuing today’s most pressing issues. Financial aid packages will be provided on a first-come-first-served basis; if you’re interested, please register as soon as possible and let us know what program tuition you can afford.

If you’d like to be considered for a financial aid package, please register for the program by Friday, October 25. Once you receive your final financial aid statement from our team, you will have 2 business days to register and submit your payment for the program. The quick turnaround time is in place to respect any individuals on the waitlist.



Who is eligible for the subsidized program tuition?

2014-2019 Graduates of the CSIS Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy, CSIS Impact Houses, Penn Impact Lab, Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership, NAS Creative Community Fellows, and NAS Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy are all invited alumni. Pending space, on October 15 we will also welcome newcomers who have been nominated by alumni of the above programs. While we are not advertising publicly for this event, we will also consider including unaffiliated newcomers if they demonstrate commitment to social impact and participating constructively in this community.

What does the program tuition cover?

This program is $895 for CSIS alumni and referrals and $1,250 for new invited guests. We do also have a number of financial aid packages available. Your registration includes all programming, housing, farm-to-table meals, and materials while on-site, from lunch on Monday, December 2nd through lunch on Wednesday, December 4th.


The agenda will include sessions led by Peter Frumkin, Ariel Schwartz, and Kaveh Sadeghian. We are finalizing the participation of other University of Pennsylvania faculty in the coming weeks. You’ll move through the summit in a small group, and we’ll curate several peer-learning workshops. The summit will also include a visit to a local winery.

How did you determine the program tuition?

The registration cost is based on the estimated costs to house and feed attendees and produce the event. We’ve offered it to alumni at just above the hard costs required to produce it. The alumni price does not cover instruction or staff time, which we may be able to partially cover by offering a higher price to non-alumni.

How will the programming differ from prior CSIS programs?

For our 5-year anniversary, this Alumni Summit takes some of our past educational experiences into a new setting and form, which we are calling a CSIS Summit. This event combines our residential program with our on-campus alumni summits.

Our traditional Executive Program summits are designed to strengthen cohort connections, acknowledge work accomplished that year / synthesized what we learned, and introduced some new learning. The content is amongst the Center’s most professionalized and pragmatic.

Our residential programs make an explicit attempt to remove world changers from both their own professional settings and the traditional university learning environment. Our 19 prior impact houses have invited participants for intensive leadership training and community-building in locations that are intentionally beautiful, in nature, a little hard to get to, and a little disconnected from most folks’ workplaces. We find that this removal helps participants put work aside more completely during our time together, and focus more closely on conversations and work that will allow for stronger relationship-building and adopting new practices that will help them when back home.

We are excited to combine some of the key benefits of these two programs into something entirely unique.

Will I have a roommate?

The housing included in the registration cost assumes you’ll share a room with another registrant. We can offer solo rooms for an added cost. If you’re interested in this, please make note in your registration form.

In your registration form, we ask if you have a preference for who you’d like to room with. You can preference a same-gender roommate, and/or coordinate with another attendee and let us know you’d like to stay with them. Otherwise, we’ll ask for information on your sleeping habits (ie, Do you rise early? Stay up late? Prefer a quiet room, or are flexible to noise?) and try to pair you with a compatible roommate. Unless stated otherwise in your registration form, we’ll pair attendees in same-gender rooms.

Start Your Application

If applying for financial aid, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.