Sphere Summit: Teaching Civic Culture Together

Sphere Summit: Teaching Civic Culture Together

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Frequently Asked Questions


  • What are my responsibilities as a participant?
    Participants are expected to attend all the sessions during the Sphere Summit. This includes all lectures, workshops, breakouts, and meals scheduled during the Summit.
  • What are the accommodations for Summit participants?
    Participants will stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Washington Downtown/​Convention Center. Hotel accommodations are provided only for the duration of the seminar. Participants are responsible for additional nights and any hotel incidentals, such as personal expenses, phone calls, room service, or extra meals. Participants will be matched with one other attendee per room, so we encourage you to apply with a fellow educator. Participants are also welcome to reserve personal accommodations at their own expense.
  • 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, and the Cato Institute will reimburse your travel. You must provide the necessary documentation in the form of a Google Maps printout of your drive each way with the miles traveled.
  • Can I defer my acceptance to next year?
    No, we cannot defer your position. We encourage you to apply again but cannot guarantee your acceptance at a later time.

Application and 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 no later than May 18 (earlier applicants may be notified sooner). Applicants who are accepted will be directed to additional information and registration instructions.


  • Who is eligible to apply to the Sphere Summit?
    Grades 5–12 educators and administrators from schools all over the country may apply to the Sphere Summit.
  • Can more than one educator apply from a given school?
    Yes, educators from the same school may attend the Sphere Summit. We encourage you and your colleagues to apply together.

Costs and Reimbursements

  • What expenses am I responsible for?
    There is no fee to attend the seminar, but an application is required.

    The Cato Institute will reimburse up to $500.00 for travel expenses. Participants are responsible for any travel expenses that exceed that amount.

    Participants should be prepared to pay for all personal expenses, additional nights, and incidentals such as phone calls, room service, or extra meals.
  • What expenses does the Cato Institute pay for?
    The Cato Institute provides room and board for four days, starting with dinner on the first day of programming and ending with breakfast on the final day of programming.

    Each seminar participant is eligible to receive a travel expense reimbursement of up to $500.00. Please note that we are unable to provide supplemental funding in cases where the travel reimbursement is insufficient to cover all travel expenses. Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar under the following guidelines. Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in a delay or denial of reimbursement.

    • All claims for travel expense reimbursements must be documented by a copy of the original receipt, an online receipt, or a Google Maps printout of your drive each way with the miles traveled.
      • Credit card statements are not acceptable.
      • If you are sending the original receipts, please tape (do not staple) them to a letter‐​sized sheet of paper.
      • Participants must keep copies of all receipts and related paperwork in the event that paperwork is misplaced or lost.
    • Individuals must submit their receipts and a travel reimbursement form directly to the Cato Institute by mail, email, or fax no later than 30 business days after the end of the seminar.
      • By email: please send to mjohnson@​cato.​org.
      • By mail: please send to The Cato Institute, Attn: Mackenzie Johnson, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001.
      • By fax: please send to 202–371-0841, Attn: Mackenzie Johnson
    • All fields in the travel reimbursement form must be completed, including Name, Address, Expenses, Amounts, and Receipts.
    • Participants must combine all expenses on a single travel reimbursement form and may submit for reimbursement only once. We will not be able to make exceptions to this policy.
    • All reimbursement expenses are subject to Cato’s final determination.
    • All travel reimbursements are mailed after completion of the full seminar.
    • For a sample of a completed travel reimbursement form, click here.

    Cato will reimburse you for the following:

    • Round‐​trip airfare, train fare, or bus fare
    • Car mileage according to the IRS standard allowable mileage rate
    • Taxi or rideshare service expenses to and from the airport, hotel, and seminar location (if participants share a taxi or rideshare service, only one participant may request reimbursement)
    • Daily and long‐​term airport parking rates
    • Hotel or garage parking (if you are driving)
    • Bus, rail, or public transit expenses to and from the airport, hotel, and seminar location
      • The original rail ticket or an e‑ticket are the only receipts that will be accepted. Commuters may submit a weekly rail pass for reimbursement.
    • Tolls


    • Personal entertainment expenses, including in‐​flight headsets, snacks, magazines, and newspapers
    • Personal hotel expenses, additional nights, and incidentals such as phone calls, room service, or extra meals
    • Childcare costs, housesitting, or pet‐​sitting/​kennel charges
    • Traffic or parking violations
    • Lost, stolen, or damaged personal property
    • Avoidable failure to cancel transportation reservations
    • Travel expenses for spouse or other personal guests
    • Laundry, dry cleaning, or personal toiletries
    • Any other expenses not directly related to traveling to or from the seminar site
    • Flight cancellation/​change fees and first/​business class tickets
    • Baggage fees
    • Seat upgrades


  • Should I bring a laptop?
    All participants should plan to bring their own laptop computers to complete seminar projects.
  • Will there be internet access?
    Yes, complimentary wireless internet access is available at the Cato Institute and at the hotel.

Do you have questions not answered here? Email events@​cato.​org.