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About Sphere

Is the Sphere Education Initiative nonpartisan?

The Sphere Education Initiative works with grades 5–12 educators to advance free speech, civil discourse, and civic culture. The project grew out of Project Sphere, a collaboration of the Cato Institute and Brookings Institution, which features discussions of policy issues of the day from three different perspectives.

As a 501(c)3 organization, our events, educational programming, and professional development opportunities are exclusively nonpartisan. We bring together experts from across the ideological spectrum and from a wide diversity of experiences and backgrounds to engage educators on the most pressing topics of the day. Sphere programming does not advocate for any policy position but strives to inform educators about the breadth and diversity of positions on any given topic so that they are well equipped to support discussion among students.

Who provides the professional development programming for the Sphere Education Initiative?

Sphere works with the premier professional development organizations covering civics, history, economics, and media literacy. All the groups we work with provide exceptional, unbiased, and nonpartisan professional development opportunities for all educators.

How is the Sphere Education Initiative funded?

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, all funding for Sphere Education Initiatives comes from a wide variety of individual donors and family foundations. Across the board, these are people gravely concerned about the lack of civil discourse in society and the importance of education in America.

What is the relationship between the Sphere Education Initiative and the Cato Institute?

The Sphere Education Initiative is housed at the Cato Institute but is not a part of any of the policy efforts of any of those departments. We are a separate educational project, with strictly nonpartisan and nonideological aims.

Who are the alumni of the Sphere Education Initiative?

Of the over 3,000 alumni of Sphere, the vast majority are public school teachers, most of whom are union members. They represent a wide diversity of subject areas, school types, and ideological backgrounds. What they have in common is a passion for civil discourse and helping their students be more successful. We’re proud of the work that they do.


How will COVID-19 affect the Sphere Summit?

Our goal is to host two in‐​person summer seminars in 2023, however, as we approach the summer, we may need to adjust the Summit. To keep you informed of potential program changes due to pandemic restrictions, we will contact you directly and post updates on this website.

What are my responsibilities as a participant?

Participants are expected to attend all the sessions during the Sphere Summit. This includes lectures, workshops, breakouts, and meals that are scheduled during the Summit. Participants will receive a certificate of completion as well as complimentary copies of all books, Summit materials, and classroom resources.

What are the accommodations for Summit participants?

Participants will stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Washington Downtown/​Convention Center. For the first Summit, the check‐​in date is Sunday, July 9, and the checkout date is Thursday, July 13. For the second Summit, the check‐​in date is Sunday, July 23, and the checkout date is Thursday, July 27. Hotel accommodations are provided only for the duration of the seminar. Room fees and taxes are covered for the nights of July 9–12 and July 23–26. Participants are responsible for additional nights and any hotel incidentals, such as personal expenses, phone calls, room service, or extra meals.

Can family and friends participate?

We are unable to accommodate family and friends.

Can I commute to the Sphere Summit?

Yes. If you live in Washington, DC, or the surrounding areas, you are welcome to commute to the seminar every morning, however parking is unavailable at the Cato Institute and is limited in the surrounding neighborhood.

Can I defer my acceptance to next year?

No, you cannot defer your position. We encourage you to apply again but cannot guarantee your acceptance at a later time.

How many professional development hours are available?

A determination of professional development hours will be made when the final program is released closer to the start of the program.

Applications & Deadlines

What is the application deadline, and when will I be notified of whether I have been selected?

Applicants will be notified of their status on a rolling basis, typically within 3–4 weeks of submitting. The deadline for applications is Friday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Applicants who are accepted will be directed to registration information.

Can I apply to both Summits?

Applicants may only apply to and attend one Summit.

Which Summit should I apply for?

The Foundations of Civic Culture is best for educators new to Sphere Summit and administrators. Incorporating Civic Culture into Advanced Subjects is best for alumni of a previous Sphere Summit, those teaching AP, IB, or similar advanced subjects.

All applicants will be considered for both Summits and may be offered either Summit at the discretion of Sphere Education Initiatives. Please apply to the Summit that works best for your schedule or matches your personal interests.