• Career and Leadership Development Academy

  • The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce's Career and Leadership Development Academy is a collaboration with New Hanover County Schools to provide current New Hanover County Middle School Students an opportunity to acquire career, leadership, and education pathway knowledge throughout the ten-month program. Students will visit sponsor sites once per month over eight months. The program is free for students and includes meals, transportation, and all program materials. Students explore local career clusters and potential career pathways and occupations, including job prospects, pay, projected job growth, and the educational attainment required for each occupation. The program will build leadership skills and highlight employability skills needed for today's workforce. While in the program, students will identify their top career cluster, experience jobs in various career and technology fields, and present their research to their peers.


    If you are interested in partnering with the Wilmington Chamber to sponsor this Leadership Development program or hosting students on-site at your business, please contact Laura Brogdon-Primavera at primavera@wilmingtonchamber.org

    • About the Career & Leadership Development Academy (CLDA)

  • Session Topics Session Topics

    Session Topics have been identified based on the industry clusters targeted for growth in the economic mobility report adopted by the New Hanover County Commission in April 2022.

    • Digital Technologies
    • Warehouse, Logistics, and Supply Chain
    • Life Sciences and Pharmaceuticals
    • Hospitality
    • Real Estate, Architecture, Engineering, and Construction
    • Manufacturing and Clean Energy
    • Healthcare
    • Film
  • Speakers & Program Structure Speakers & Program Structure

    Each session will be hosted by an industry partner who welcomes participating students on-site for the day. Students will hear from a wide range of employees in the industry who have taken various education pathways to attain those positions. Other speakers from other employers in the region also visit with the students throughout the day. Leadership development sessions are also included as part of the curriculum based on the skills identified in the NC Department of Public Instruction’s Portrait of a Graduate

    Industry Partners in the inaugural year of CLDA have included Live Oak Bank, Vantaca, Grover Gaming, Corning, MegaCorp Logistics, NFI Industries, NC State Ports, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Portrett Pharmaceuticals, UNCW, Blockade Runner Resort, Perfect Touch Rental, Rebecca’s Charcuterie, LS3P, Andrew Consulting Engineers, Allen + Shariff, Clancy & Theys, Monteith Construction Corporation, GE Aerospace, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Cape Fear Solar Systems, Duke Energy, Novant Health, Atlantic Prosthetics, Wilmington Eye, Access Dental, Sankofa Training Institute, Dark Horse Studios, Honey Head Films, Wilmington Regional Film Commission and a number of Leadership Wilmington Alumni Council members from across all industry sectors.

  • 2023-2024 Session Dates & Times 2023-2024 Session Dates & Times

    The 10 month program consists of:

    • Orientation in August with parents, NHCS champions, and chamber staff
    • Introductory Conversations in August with Leadership Wilmington Alumni Council Members
    • Eight school-day sessions – September through April
    • Exit Interviews and Exit Surveys in April
    • Graduation Ceremony in May

    In order to graduate from the Career and Leadership Development Academy, students must participate in all field trip days (one excused absence is permitted), write a blog with their school team, complete the YouScience Aptitude and Career Discovery experience, and do a final presentation to their peers.

  • Ideal Candidate Ideal Candidate

    For the 2022-2023 class year, five students were selected from each of the eight middle schools in the New Hanover County School system by administrators and educators in their schools. Students were required to complete an online application process and attend an orientation session with their parents.

    For the 2023-2024 class year, ten students from each middle school will be selected. Student applications are under review now. Students and parents will be notified before the end of this current school year.

  • Tuition & Application Tuition & Application

    This program is free for students thanks to the generous support from our corporate partners. This program is currently only for New Hanover County School students.

    Applications for the 2023-2024 school year are now closed.



  • Student Experience Blog Posts



  • Thank you to our sponsors for their support of the Career and Leadership Development Academy:

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  • CLDA Mentor Program CLDA Mentor Program

    The CLDA Mentor Program is designed to keep graduates of the CLDA program engaged in their 8th-grade year. Participants will have the opportunity to deepen their connection with employers in their top industries, continue developing their leadership skills, and serve as mentors to the new group of participants by guiding them on their journey with the support of the school champions.


    To participate in the CLDA Mentor Program, one must meet the following requirements:

    • Be an 8th grader who participated in the CLDA 7th Grade Program and completed all program requirements  
    • Must be available to participate in Orientation on August 19, 2023, for the 2023-2024 cohorts 
    • Must participate in at least one industry field trip in 2023-2024 where you will introduce the speaker(s) and presenter(s)  
    • Must be available to assist the current cohort with their final presentation preparations 
    • Attend one Zoom meeting per semester for a leadership development session 
    • Volunteer for CLDA Graduation on May 1 or May 8, 2024 
    • Volunteer for a Work on Wilmington day of a service project on April 20, 2024 
    • Must maintain a C average grade to remain in the program 


    Applications are now open for the CLDA Mentor Program for the 2023-2024 school year and will close Sunday, April 30. To apply, please click here.