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A grassroots, evidence-based gun violence prevention initiative

Founded in Summer 2019, and entering into its sixth year in 2024, the Students Demand Action Summer Leadership Academy is a weeklong program that provides an introduction to gun violence prevention advocacy, leadership, and grassroots organizing skills that empowers high school-aged participants to become community organizers. The initiative prioritizes removing barriers that often exclude youth from communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence from becoming leaders in the gun violence prevention movement.

Each Summer Leadership Academy program is designed and led by college-aged coordinators (ages 18+). Youth participants (ages 14-17) are mentored by the coordinators throughout the week and work to develop lasting relationships with fellow students and mentors. Each day of the program lasts from morning until late afternoon with a curriculum that is curated to the host city by host city coordinators and Students Demand Action staff. The Summer Leadership Academy is offered to student participants at no cost; meals and transportation assistance are provided.

Through a peer-to-peer education model, the Summer Leadership Academy educates participants about the gun violence prevention movement and spurs individual growth in youth development areas including: public speaking, community building, self-care, project management and community outreach. The week culminates with “Impact Day,” where students present a proposal for an event or idea that can educate and/or activate their peers and community around gun violence prevention with the support of Students Demand Action resources and tools.

The Summer Leadership Academy is an initiative of Students Demand Action in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.

“I learned so much about gun violence. I walked in knowing nothing, so walking out, I definitely did walk out with a greater knowledge of it. I haven’t stopped my advocacy… It’s been a pretty great journey since.”

Alè Ortiz, participant in the 2020 Summer Leadership Academy in Los Angeles, CA

“This program really helped me to learn about gun violence and how it affects different communities…I learned so many things I had no clue about and I further learned about concepts I already had recognition of.

I loved how the coordinators maintained everything interactive and were really supportive while sharing your story and participating. This environment really made it fun for me and made me excited for everyday.”

Sarah Morales, participant in the 2023 Summer Leadership Academy in Miami, FL

2024 Program Overview

2024 Cities & Teams

The host cities for the 2024 Summer Leadership Academy are Chicago (IL) and Washington D.C. Each host city’s Summer Leadership Academy will be planned and led by two to four amazing college-aged leaders. Learn more about these core team members and their impressive backgrounds.

Participate in a 2024 Summer Leadership Academy

Do you aspire to be a leader? Do you want to be a force of positive change in society? You might just be an ideal candidate to participate in a Summer Leadership Academy! 

Join us this summer for one week (7/22/24-7/26/24), in one of our two host cities – Chicago and Washington D.C. – to learn from Students Demand Action leaders on how to build and channel strong leadership skills into positive change in your local community. Students will leave the program with an introductory knowledge of gun violence prevention, strengthened leadership skills, a network of fellow community leaders, and a strong understanding of how to organize with Students Demand Action and beyond.

This program is free of cost for participants. Transportation assistance and meals (breakfast, lunch, and snack) are provided during the program. Service hour sign-offs can also be provided.

To Apply a Candidate Must

  • Reside in one of the host cities (Chicago IL or Washington D.C.).
  • Be enrolled in a high school for Fall 2024 (14-17 years old).
  • Have full-day availability morning through early afternoon on 7/22/24-7/26/24.
  • Be willing to attend and actively participate in all programming events. 
  • Have parental permission to participate. 

No prior experience in community organizing is required or necessary – whether you’re new to community organizing and leadership development or you have experience, this program and your mentors will meet you where you’re at and help cultivate further learning.

Historical Cities & Teams

Chicago Summer Leadership Academy participants hold up a Students Demand Action banner

The Summer Leadership Academy started in 2019 in South Central Los Angeles, CA and has since expanded to host cities from around the country! Read more about the cities we’ve hosted the program in and the core team members who led those efforts.

Commitment to Inclusion

The Summer Leadership Academy is committed to building an inclusive gun violence prevention movement. Our initiative prioritizes communities that are most impacted by gun violence—often communities of color—and we encourage students to apply for the program if they identify as low-income, BIPOC, and/or gun violence survivors.

There is strength in numbers, and our previous Summer Leadership Academy participants are reflective of the movement we are building. For more information about our commitment to DEI, please see our Statement on DEI and Anti-Racism.

Our Partners

This initiative would not be possible without the generosity of our partners. From providing funding to co-hosting events together, our partners help infuse our grassroot student organizers with the resources they need to be successful organizers. If you are interested in partnering with us to cultivate a Summer Leadership Academy event, or have other ideas please reach out to us at [email protected].

  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • Awesomeness TV
  • Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence 
  • The Big House
  • Big Mama’s Safe House
  • Black Star Project
  • Bullets for Life
  • California Government Field Team
  • Cara LeVine – This is Not a Gun
  • Ceasefire Detroit
  • Charles W. Reid Community Help Center
  • Chicago Cares
  • Circle of Brotherhood 
  • Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice
  • Cure the Streets
  • Damon’s Center for Grief, Loss & Trauma
  • Detroit Heals Detroit
  • Detroit Votes
  • D.C. Justice Lab
  • Everytown Communication Team
  • Everytown Community Safety Initiatives Team
  • Everytown Culture Department
  • Everytown Research Team
  • Everytown Survivor Network
  • The FLIP Project
  • Frontline Gig
  • GENup
  • Guitars Over Guns
  • Institute for Nonviolence Chicago
  • James Hickey
  • Lollapalooza
  • LA LGBT Center
  • LA Mayor’s Youth Council to End Gun Violence
  • LA Regional Food Bank
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Mitty Advocacy Project
  • Mothers Fighting for Justice
  • Moms Demand Action
  • Nava College Prep
  • No Weapon Shall Prosper
  • Peace for D.C.
  • Project Knucklehead
  • Rise Up for Peace
  • Rob Wilcox & Everytown Federal 
  • SHOT: We the Mothers Miami
  • Students Deserve
  • TraRon Center
  • The TRIGGER Project
  • TOMS 
  • UCAN Chicago
  • U.D.C. Rooftop Garden
  • Urban Peace Institute 
  • Ward 6 Mutual Aid
  • Youth, Gifted, and Black Podcast
  • Young Invincibles 
  • Zion Rozier

Contact Us

If you have questions or need to reach out to us, please contact the Students Demand Action team.

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