EXPLORE Specifics | Programs | Institute for Educational Advancement

There’s nothing like hands-on learning. We provide ways for gifted and advanced young adults to explore a career field of interest and start applying their knowledge in an intellectually limitless and nurturing environment.

Externships Providing Leadership Opportunities in Research and Education (EXPLORE) program matches gifted and advanced high school students with distinguished mentors, hands-on research opportunities, and professional experience in their field of interest. With the support and guidance of volunteer mentors and IEA staff, students learn about working in a variety of professional settings and advance their skills through the pursuit of knowledge and exposure to optimally challenging learning experiences. Students not only experience growth intellectually and personally, but are able to make pertinent and lasting connections with their mentors and like-minded peers.


2020 EXPLORE Program Updates

After much deliberation, and the unprecedented rapid progression of COVID-19, IEA has made the difficult decision to cancel our Summer 2020 EXPLORE program. This decision applies to all dates and mentor sites for EXPLORE. We are deeply sorry that the current health crisis is preventing us from holding this exemplary program. We have been in contact with our confirmed mentors and, while they share our disappointment in the cancellation of 2020, many have already committed to the 2021 program year. For any questions regarding the EXPLORE program cancellation please email Program Manager Megan Figueroa at mfigueroa@educationaladvancement.org.

To learn more about this decision please click here to read IEA’s full statement regarding COVID-19.

To be notified when information about 2021 Explore Program information, please sign up for our email list and indicate an interest in EXPLORE.


Site Locations

Greater Los Angeles Area

Bay Area

EXPLORE Summer 2021 Los Angeles and Bay Area sites will be added as they are confirmed with the mentors. Check the Sites and Mentors page for site specific details.


EXPLORE Informational Webinar

IEA hosted a free webinar to offer more information to prospective EXPLORE Applicants. IEA personnel walk attendees through the new application portal, share some tips on applying and take user questions. 

Wednesday, February 19th at 5:30 pm PST | Click here to view the recorded Webinar!

Wednesday, March 11th at 5:30 pm PST | Click here to view the recorded Webinar!




In order to be considered for the program, students must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be a rising 10th, 11th, or 12th grader
  • Must be under the age of 18 for the duration of the program
  • Be highly motivated, high-achieving
  • Have an interest in pursuing an advanced topic through an in-depth course of study

Some sites require students to be of a minimum age or meet certain prerequisites; these requirements will be listed with the site description.


Program Fees

Session I: $975

Session II: $975

Both Sessions I & II: $1,950

Session III: $850

Scholarships and payment plans are available to students in need, and financial concerns should not discourage any student from applying. Please contact the Program Manager, Megan Figueroa, at Explore@educationaladvancement.org for more information.

Program Fees cover:

  • Weekly college and career workshops and excursions
  • Orientation Day and Culmination Ceremony
  • Matching mentee with a mentor
  • High-quality mentoring experience
  • Laboratory and/or materials fees
  • Direct support from IEA staff throughout the duration of the program
  • Personalized e-portfolio upon successful completion of placement


Application Check-List

IEA utilizes our portfolio-based application to determine eligibility and to match qualified applicants with the most appropriate sites and mentors. Applicants will be required to submit the following:

  • General Application Info
  • 2 Reflective Essays
  • Sample Work
  • 1 Letter of Recommendation
  • Current Unofficial Transcripts
  • Most Recent Standardized Test Scores (if available)
  • Professional Resume or Brag Sheet




Students must provide their own transportation to and from their work site, weekly excursions/workshops, orientation days, and the final culmination ceremony. IEA staff would be happy to assist with  navigating and making recommendations for transportation options and routes.


Housing Accommodations

Students are responsible for securing their own lodging for the entire duration of their program session.

explore sites
explore MENTORS
prospective MENTORS
You can help

Provide a Hands-On Experience:
Host or Sponsor an IEA Extern

A gifted mind that is fed and fostered can achieve great things. By funding the IEA EXPLORE program, you will not only change a life, you might also spark a discovery that changes the world. Please consider:

Hosting an Extern. Share your professional expertise, time, and support through direct mentorship.

Sponsoring an Extern. Help ensure that no child is ever turned away due to lack of funds.We’ll match you with an IEA Extern and keep you posted on his or her progress and the results of their efforts.

WASC_Logo SEP color

Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
533 Airport Blvd., Suite 200
Burlingame, CA 94010

Website: www.acswasc.org