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

The above statements are common descriptions used by 10th and 11th grade students across the United States and Latin America to explain the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session (LDZ), NHI's flagship leadership development experience.

What is the LDZ? An eight-day intensive leadership experience filled with unexpected and unplanned challenges and hurdles, the LDZ is an opportunity for young people to learn how to create,  manage, and navigate large organizations.  During this journey, students practice a broad array of competencies including public speaking, policy writing, and constituency development. Since 1982, students from over 20 states and four Latin American nations have convened to play this leadership game of vision, influence and power management. Personal growth, self-awareness, and mindset often undergo tremendous change through the LDZ experience; Students grow to envision themselves as both change-makers and game-changers as the leaders of today.

Who is eligible to apply for the LDZ?

All students are welcome to apply for the LDZ if they meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • In the 10th or 11th grade
  • Has a GPA of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale
    (88% average)


What are the program requirements? All students must:

  • Apply for admission and receive official acceptance letter.
  • Complete all pre-program requirements (online orientation, parent/guardian release, tuition, etc.)
  • Be fully available to participate in all program activities on the assigned program dates.
  • Provide their own transportation to and from the program (NHI provides airport transfers for a fee) or organize group travel through their parents, schools, or regional groups
  • If travelling internationally, secure passport/visa for trip

What does the admissions process look like?

  1. Complete an online application with a $25 application fee by our deadlines.
  2. Upload a recent report card or transcript (last reporting period for 2022-2023 school year accepted).
  3. Enrollment Office reviews the application within 3-5 business days and emails admission results.
  4. If admitted, remit a non-refundable $150 deposit within 10 days in your online account or via U.S. mail.  At this time, NHI will email your parents a Parent Release link for authorization to participate, health history, and payment terms and conditions.
  5. Complete final tuition payment by assigned deadline.

What does the payment schedule look like?

NHI will provide details about the payment schedule upon acceptance into the program, with terms of 4-6 payments. NHI is committed to flexibility - that is, payment plans and fundraising tools are available to all families who request them.  After our Winter admission deadline, NHI reserves the right to change payment structures.

The LDZ is sponsored by families, volunteers, donors and university hosts. Were it not for our college hosts and volunteers, the program cost would nearly triple!

What is the student cost to attend the LDZ?

The cost of the LDZ is broken down into distinct fees, all of which will culminate in supplying your student with the adequate resources for a fulfilling and fun leadership experience. 

  • Application Fee - $25 (required to complete application, non-refundable)
  • LDZ Non-Refundable Deposit - $150
  • LDZ Program Tuition - see below
    • Colorado & Texas LDZ Program Tuition: $1,050 (does not include the $150 deposit)
    • American LDZ Tuition (with excursion to D.C.): $1,120 (does not include the $150 deposit)

application deadlines

Spring Admissions

Selective admissions policies are now in place until programs reach full capacity.


The LDZ is able to take place due to the generosity of our host institutions. The locations for in-person LDZs are as follows:

Dionisio "Dennis" Chavez New Mexico LDZ - This program is reserved for students from New Mexico.
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dates: June 9-16, 2024


Colorado LDZ
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Dates: June 16-23, 2024


American LDZ
St. Mary's College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, Maryland
Dates: July 7 - 14, 2024


Texas LDZ
Concordia University Texas
Austin, Texas
July 21 - 28, 2024




After successfully completing the program, LDZers often reflect on the experience as a space where they felt free to express themselves, their ideas, and honed their skills. They felt culturally embraced, understood, and valued. At the LDZ, they began to see themselves as playing a leadership role wherever life would take them, whether at home, in school, in a career, or in service to others. Most of all, they felt special in knowing that leadership is a life-long calling in which they will have a special role to play with NHI.


The LDZ was started in 1982 in Austin, Texas, as two-day experience at the Capitol. In 1983 the program expanded to work with a statewide audience and expanded 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. The program, Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session, is named after the first provisional Vice President of the Republic of Texas and a leader for democracy and liberty in both Mexico and the United States. However, its name is also an homage to De Zavala Park in Houston where NHI's founder and president Ernesto Nieto watched and learned from his parents who were community park directors. Values, lessons, and the overall spirit of community life at De Zavala Park back then inspired the environment and culture of the LDZ summer experience. 


National Hispanic Institute

P.O. Box 220
Maxwell, Texas 78656

+1 (512) 357-6137

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Hours of Operations:

M-F, 8:30am - 12:00pm; 1:30pm - 5:30pm CDT