Scroll To Top
dya experience
DYA group photo

At DYA, we have fellowship and fun!

About the Program

The Duke Youth Academy is an intensive encounter with Christian faith, community, and theology. We combine a week-long residency on the Duke University campus (June 21-27, 2020) with a year of mentorship, online meetings, and a community-based project (June 2020 – June 2021). Through all of this, we empower young people to explore God’s baptismal calling in their lives, discover the beauty of the church, and hope for a future in God’s kingdom that is beyond imagination.

Video: A Day in the Life of DYA

DYA is designed for students with a wide range of vocational aspirations and extracurricular interests to explore where God is moving in their lives. Though some students come to us thinking about a career in pastoral ministry, many are not. The one thing all DYA students have in common is a hunger to explore their faith intellectually and creatively with other Christians.

Residency: june 21-27, 2020

During the summer, young people from all over the country (and beyond!) will gather at Duke University for a week immersed in the rhythms of the church. By bringing youth out of the context of their everyday lives, DYA fosters an intentional Christian community that gives young people an opportunity to think about the day-to-day aspects of being Christian while they grapple with broader theological ideas.

While at Duke, participants experience:

  • Nurturing friendships within a diverse community
  • Challenging academic lectures from Duke Divinity school faculty
  • Inspiring workshops with athletes, artists, and activists
  • Mentoring relationships with gifted Christian leaders
  • Vibrant worship in a variety of traditions, from Episcopal to the free church
  • Good food shared with local churches and ministries
  • Rest, play, worship and prayer on the beautiful Duke campus

Our schedule during the DYA summer residency is based on a monastic pattern: studying in the mornings, working with our hands and bodies in the afternoons, and worshipping and reflecting in the evenings. Below is an example of the daily schedule:


alumni stories

DYA showed me that I am not alone as a teenage Christian.

Mayra Rangel, DYA 2015

A day at residency: An example of our daily schedule
7:30 a.m. Wake up!
8:30 a.m. Breakfast
9:10 a.m. Morning prayer in Duke Chapel
9:45 a.m. Theological lecture: Plenary speakers are members of the Duke Divinity School faculty, and may include such noted theologians as J. Warren Smith, Ellen Davis, Sujin Pak, Edgardo Colon-Emeric, J. Kameron Carter, and Fred Edie
11:30 a.m. Snack time!
11:45 a.m. Worship workshops: Learning how to lead and plan worship, then planning and preparing to lead a DYA worship service with a group of students and mentors
1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Rest time in dorm rooms
2:30 p.m. Living theology workshops with artists, athletes, community activists, gardeners, and others who uncover the intersection of Christian faith through daily life, artistic activity, justice work, and more
6:00 p.m. Dinner with local churches
7:00 p.m. Community time on the quad or worship preparation time
7:30 p.m. Evening worship
8:45 p.m. Reflection time with mentor group (all students will be in small daily reflection groups with approximately 8 students and 2 mentors)
10:15 p.m. Free time in the dorm
11:30 p.m. Lights out!

june 2020 – june 2021

During the year following the residency, program participants and DYA mentors will continue to journey together in community, exploring important questions about Christian life. In a private online classroom and discussion forum, DYA mentors and students will discuss:

  • Current events, viewed through a theological lens
  • Video lectures given by Duke Divinity School faculty
  • Short theological readings
  • Prayer practices and requests
  • So much more

Each participant also will have a community mentor — an adult from the young person’s congregation, school, or local community—who will offer advice and support.

This ongoing community will walk with participants as they put what they’ve learned during the summer residency into practice in their home communities and congregations, culminating in a Practices Project that each participant will create. They’ll ask questions at the core of Christian life: How do Christians speak? How do Christians act and react? How do Christians think about the future? How do Christians practice their faith?

DYA is committed to working with every student, regardless of their access to technology. If you have questions about how the program can be adapted to your situation, please contact us.

Ben Wirzba, DYA 2014 delivers check to Urban Ministries from funds he raised doing his practices project.

Practices Project

Under the guidance of their DYA and community mentors, participants will study, prepare, execute, and reflect on a Christian practice that springs out of what they learn during residency about their baptismal calling. They will draw on their personal gifts to enact this practice in their communities, preparing them for lifelong engagement with the Christian faith.

These practices will attend to the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—in their planning, execution, and reflection. Past projects have included starting a community garden, running a half-marathon, leading anti-bullying training, developing a worship workshop series to teach the congregation, and creating interactive prayer stations for a youth ministry event.

At the completion of the DYA year, the student will create a video, photo essay, or written reflection that can be shared with the DYA community, including staff and student alumni and DYA supporters.

The Practices Project is divided into four segments. Each quarter, the students meet with their community mentor, take action on the project, and share their progress with the DYA community.

Community Mentor

A community mentor is an adult from the young person’s congregation, school, or community who commits to serving as an advisor, conversation partner, and supporter throughout the year. Community mentors can be youth leaders, pastors, teachers, lay volunteer leaders, or anyone else committed to the spiritual formation of the young person.

The community mentor has three primary tasks:

  • Offer a safe place for reflective conversation about the DYA residency and the student’s ongoing spiritual formation and vocational discernment.
  • Meet with the student once during each DYA quarter (a total of 4 meetings) and hold them accountable to the milestone goals and implementation of their Practices Project.
  • Celebrate the journey with the young person in the congregation and community upon completion.

Community mentors will receive support and online training from the Duke Youth Academy.


Youth in Christian Leadership Certificate

The Youth in Christian Leadership Certificate is awarded to members of the Duke Youth Academy who participate actively in the residential and online aspects of the DYA community and who complete all of the milestones associated with the Practices Project.

Students who complete the certificate and later attend Duke Divinity School for graduate education in the future may be eligible for scholarships designated for Duke Youth Academy alumni.

Alumni Celebration Gathering

We invite alumni from all past DYA sessions to join us for a celebration of another completed residency, newly completed practices projects, and ongoing friendship and community.

The next Alumni Celebration will be held on June 27, 2020, at Duke Divinity School at the conclusion of the 2020 DYA residency. Details and registration forthcoming!




duke youth academy