The Student Diversity Leadership Conference


The NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades 9-12) from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participating students develop cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles. In addition to large group sessions, SDLC "family groups" and "home groups" allow for dialogue and sharing in smaller units.

Attendance is limited to 1,600 students and each school may send up to six students. All students in a single delegation must be enrolled in the registering school. Schools may not register students from another school. Violation of this policy creates liability and is grounds for NAIS to revoke both schools' participation in the conference.

See the 2019 SDLC schedule at a glance.

SDLC Additional Opportunities

A student can indicate interest in one of the following:

  • Peer Facilitators are trained to serve a vital role in our conference by leading fellow attendees in small group dialogues. Any student who has group leadership experience—or who is willing participate in special training for this key role—may serve as a Peer Facilitator at SDLC. Prior SDLC attendance is helpful, but not required. 
  • Diversity 201: Returning students not serving as peer facilitators can join an advanced family group called Diversity 201. Diversity 201 is a specialized and advanced experience designed to allow returning participants an opportunity to dig deeper into issues of identity, power, privilege, and allyship. Diversity 201 is limited to one student per school.

Responsibilities of Students and Chaperones

Students, whether local or traveling, are expected to:

  • Attend all conference sessions, activities, and meals;
  • Sign and abide by the Student Conduct Agreement governing behavior throughout the conference; and
  • Cooperate with adult chaperones and with conference staff.

Schools are required to send a chaperone(s) with their student delegation. Chaperones are expected to:

  • Take responsibility for chaperoning only students enrolled in their schools;
  • Bring a copy of each student's forms with them to the conference;
  • Have photo identification with them at all times;
  • Attend an onsite chaperone orientation session;
  • Ensure their students attend all SDLC activities;
  • Arrange for students’ meals not included in the SDLC registration;
  • Be responsible for their students during designated free times;
  • Meet students at designated points and times;
  • Support and enforce the Student Conduct Agreement, including participation requirements and adherence to curfew; and
  • Be on call at all times during the conference and check their cell phones regularly.
  • Adhere to all program and safety protocols outlined during the SDLC Chaperone Orientation.

Cancellation Policy

Registration cancellations must be received in writing by October 25, 2019. Send cancellations to to receive a full refund, less a $100 cancellation fee. Cancellations received after October 25, 2019, will be charged the full registration fee. No-shows will also be charged the full registration fee. If you are cancelling an SDLC registration and would like to replace that student with another student, you must have all student forms to include waiver forms complete and ready to send, along with your cancellation email.

Substitutions/Name Changes

All name changes must be submitted in writing to If you are substituting an SDLC registrant, you must also include the revised waiver forms for the new student in your email in order for the substitution to be processed.

Videos: Celebrating 25 Years of SDLC

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in 2018, these videos take a look at the history of the conference, the impact it has had, how independent schools can support its work, and hopes for the future.