Frequently Asked Questions


  • How will COVID-19 affect Sphere Summit?
    Our goal is to host two in‐​person summer seminars in 2021. We will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19 in 2021. As we approach the summer, we may need to adjust the Summit to either a hybrid or virtual‐​only model. To keep you informed of potential program changes due to pandemic restrictions, we will contact you directly and post updates on our Sphere Summit website.
  • What are my responsibilities as a participant?
    In‐​person participants are expected to attend all the sessions during the Sphere Summit. This includes lectures, workshops, breakouts, and meals that are scheduled during the Summit.

    If virtual, participants are expected to attend 75 percent or more of the sessions and take a post‐​program survey.

    Participants will receive a certificate of completion as well as complimentary copies of all books, Summit materials, and classroom resources.
  • What are the accommodations for Summit participants?
    Participants will stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Washington Downtown/​Convention Center. For the first Summit, the check‐​in date is Sunday, June 27, and the check‐​out date is Thursday, July 1. For the second Summit, the check‐​in date is Sunday, July 25, and the check‐​out date is Thursday, July 29. Hotel accommodations are provided only for the duration of the seminar. Room fees and taxes are covered for the nights of June 27–June 30 and July 25–28. Participants are responsible for additional nights and any hotel incidentals, such as personal expenses, phone calls, room service, or extra meals.
  • 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, showing the miles traveled.
  • Can I defer my acceptance to next year?
    No, you cannot defer your position. We encourage you to apply again but cannot guarantee your acceptance at a later time.
  • How many professional development hours are available?
    A determination of professional development hours will be made when the final program is released closer to the start of the program.

Applications 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 on a rolling basis. The deadline for applications is Friday, June 11, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Applicants who are accepted will be directed to registration information.


  • Who is eligible to apply to the Sphere Summit?
    Grades 5–12 educators and administrators from schools from across 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 in‐​person attendees 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 for in‐​person attendees, starting with dinner on Sunday, June 27, and ending with breakfast on Thursday, July 1, for the first Summit and starting with dinner on Sunday, July 25, and ending with breakfast on Thursday, July 29, for the second Summit.

    Each in‐​person 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 showing the miles traveled.
      • Credit card statements are not acceptable
      • If you are sending original receipts, please tape (do not staple) them to a letter‐​sized sheet of paper
      • Participants must keep copies of all their 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, Checkboxes, and Receipts.
    • Participants must combine all their expenses on a single travel reimbursement form and may submit it 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.
  • Reimbursable expenses
    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
    • 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
  • The following expenses are not reimbursable:
    • 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


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

For questions about the Summit, please contact events@​cato.​org.