Backpack to Briefcase

backpack to briefcase
Where teens are empowered to take charge of their future. 

For Students in Grades 6-12

In these programs teens have access to civic engagement opportunities, are able to try out and develop various leadership roles, learn personal responsibility, explore and prepare for college and career while becoming agents of change in their own lives.

Cumberland Leadership Academy- 4th Annual!! 

CLA logo

For students entering grades 6-9 in the Fall of 2017
July 10-August 18 (Attendance required ALL 6 weeks)
7:45 AM-2:45 PM
Cost: $195 (includes daily continental breakfast and all field trips)
Financial assistance is available.

Looking for something different for your teen in the summer? Want to get them away from their screens and out meeting new people, having new experiences and facing new challenges?

Themed “Lead NOW. Lead for Life!”, this 6-week, full day program for Cumberland residents is an expanded civic-engagement and service learning program developed and implemented in partnership with the Cumberland School Department and Blackstone Valley Prep.

Through a fun and engaging environment filled with reality-TV type challenges, skill building activities, recreational time, self-reflection, awesome field trips and guest speakers who represent leadership in the community, students will-

  • Be infused with a vision of who they are and what they can accomplish
  • Learn how and why to grow as a leader
  • Recognize their own leadership potential
  • Build and improve leadership skills
  • Be inspired to take action within the community

IMPORTANT NOTE: Teens don’t need to be outgoing, charismatic, straight “A” students or a current leader to participate.  The ones who think the least of themselves are often the ones who find the greatest leadership potential within!  All they need is an open mind and a willingness to participate.


  • Beginning March 15th, parents register online committing to the full six weeks and acknowledging that data sharing will occur with the schools.  Payment is not required until accepted.
  • Students fill out the online student application found within the parent’s account under “Supplemental Forms”.  Acceptance will not be considered until this is complete. IMPORTANT: Parents should NOT fill this out for the student.
  • The first round of acceptances* will go out by the first week of May. Additional rounds will occur as necessary until all spots are filled.
  • Payment will be due within 5 days of acceptance email. 

*Acceptance is based on a number of factors.  We are looking to have a diverse make-up of student interests, talents, perspectives, socioeconomic levels, race/ethnicities and grade levels, as well as, equal representation from the partnering schools. We will be accepting up to 60 students.

Click bottom of page for a PDF of FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions (See cla_faqs_-pdf.pdf)

APPLICATION PROCESS BEGINS MARCH 15, 2017.  Click here for the link to register.

The Cumberland Youth Commission

The Cumberland Youth Commission is a youth driven, civic-engagement program providing meaningful opportunities for young people to serve others, to influence decisions, and to gain leadership and work experiences.  It's where youth can realize their ability to make a difference in their community!  A great continuation for those who participated in the summer's Leadership Academy and enjoyed the service learning projects. 

Teens and adults are welcome to attend.  Share a concern, an idea, or seek consultation on topics that youth voice could positively impact! Please call Sue Varela, the Youth Commission Advisor, at 401-475-0929 x5 or email to request a line item on the Youth Commission’s agenda.

For grades 7-12. Cumberland Residents ONLY.

Rolling enrollment throughout the school year.

Wednesdays 7-8:30 PM

Cost: FREE 

Current Projects Underway…

Home Heating Assistance Project. 

This project began in 2009 in response to sky-rocketing oil prices that left many families in Cumberland struggling to heat their homes. It has continued every year since.  Over the years, the more than $20,000 has been raised to assist over 50 families. 

Each year the current Commissioners decide how they would like to raise money for this cause.  This year they will be holding a “Hats for Heat” day in the local schools, placing donation cans in local businesses, asking individuals to collect their pocket change in little carton houses and offering a babysitting night so parents can do their Holiday shopping.

Applications for assistance can be found at our office, Cumberland Town Hall, Cumberland Public Library, and the Cumberland Housing Authority.  If you’d like to make a donation, please contact the office, 475-0929 x1.

Mental Health Awareness Project.  This is a new project for this year.  The Commissioners recognize that mental health is a huge issue among their peers and are in the process of determining how they can best impact the issue.  As details become available we will post them here.

 Animal Shelter Assistance Project.This is also a new project for this year.  A group of Commissioners have a heart for pets and are in the planning phase of a pet supplies collection event and considering other ways they could have an impact.

For information on past years of the Cumberland Youth Commission go to the bottom of page (News & Events tab and the About /History & Mission tab).

Service Learning and Volunteer Opportunities

For grades 9-12.

Service learning opportunities are available within our Creation Lab and/or Design Time! programs. Assist the teacher in working with elementary or middle school students as they cooperatively work through a series of challenges that incorporate the design process. Share your passion for art or science and engineering! Or maybe you want to test your interest in becoming a teacher.

This 8 week (16 hours) opportunity is offered on Tuesdays 5-7:00 pm and/or Wednesdays 1:45- 3:45 pm.  If interested, contact Sue Varela at or call 401-475-0929 x5.

Additional opportunities arise throughout the year.  Submit a volunteer application and we’ll contact you when they come up.

Youth Commission History

The Commissioners

2016-17 School Year

Service Learning Projects

Home Heating Assistance Project
Dare to Dream

Awards and Recognitions

Cox Charities
Graduating Seniors

News articles

Commissioners now earn credit for high school

Fundraising Events

Hats for Heat
Hyptnotize for Heat
5K for Heat



Click Here for more information on our Summer Program

PDF icon cla_faqs_-pdf.pdf200.94 KB