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A grassroots, evidence-based gun violence prevention initiative

Founded in Summer 2019, and entering into its fifth year in 2023, the Students Demand Action Summer Leadership Academy is an opportunity for youth in communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence to host summer programs to empower low-income high school students and survivors to become community organizers. The initiative prioritizes removing barriers that keep marginalized student leaders from becoming leaders in the gun violence prevention movement. These barriers include access to meals, mentoring, and transportation at no cost to program participants and internship opportunities for student program leaders.

Each Summer Leadership Academy program is run by student coordinators (18+) for a week in the summer. Program participants (14-17) are mentored by student coordinators throughout the week and work to build lasting relationships with other students and mentors. Each day of the program lasts from morning until late afternoon—includes meals and transportation to and from the program—and curriculum is curated to the city by program coordinators and Students Demand Action staff. Each program culminates in “Impact Day,” where students present a proposal of an event or idea to carry out with Students Demand Action to educate and activate their peers and community around gun violence prevention.

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

Our Program Overview

Program Info

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Summer Leadership Academy is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in growing the 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 as hosts or participants 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 grassroots student organizers with the resources they need to be successful organizers and educators. We are thankful for the partners who joined in on programming with us in 2022, such as the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago and Lollapalooza (Chicago), the UDC Garden (D.C.), the Los Angeles Rams (LA), and more. 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].

Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles

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Urban Peace Institute

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Contact Us

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

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