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A group 17 participants in the Summer Leadership Academy wear Students Demand Action shirts while on a hike in California


A grassroots, evidence based gun violence prevention initiative

Founded in Summer 2019, and entering into its fourth year in 2022, the Summer Leadership Academy enables communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence to host summer programs which empower low-income 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.

Our program overview

Summer Leadership Academy on ABC News

Host Cities & Teams

2022 Cities & Teams

In the summer of 2022, we are expanding the number of cities we are hosting Summer Leadership Academies in from five in 2021 to six. We are thrilled to be hosting programs in Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL, and Tampa, FL as we have in the past, and even more excited to welcome new programs in Phoenix, AZ; Memphis, TN, and Washington, D.C.

Summer Leadership Academy Proposals

Graduates of the Summer Leadership Academy will create proposals for reducing gun violence in their community.

  • Learn More about the Proposal Writing Process

    Student Proposals are presented on Impact Day, a public program capstone event held at the conclusion of each program.

    With the support of Students Demand Action, a program of Everytown for Gun Safety, each Summer Leadership Academy program will advance one proposal for further development and implementation. Other program participants have the opportunity to start a Students Demand Action group and work to implement their proposal with their group.

    The proposal writing process is central to our sustainability goals as a summer program, it represents our commitment to maintaining a robust community of organizers who are committed to gun violence prevention. During this phase, student participants work with program staff to ideate and most importantly better understand what evidence based gun violence prevention strategies would best serve their community. We hope that these proposals can serve as an organizing introduction for participants interested in starting or joining a Students Demand Action group as well. In the past students have proposed a wide range of creative ideas; a 5k gun sense run to a town hall with the mayor to continuing the summer program in their city the following year.

Past Winners

2019 Proposal Winner: South Central Summer Leadership Academy

Low-income students will continue to immerse themselves in advocacy against gun violence in South Central Los Angeles through planning community events, learning about political activism, and developing critical leadership skills.  

South Central Summer Leadership Academy giving their presentation in 2019.

2020 Proposal Winner: 3 Homegirls No Gun

Founded by summer program alumni Alè Ortiz, Jamilex Soto, and Julie Matamoros, 3 Homegirls No Gun educates Gen-Z about gun violence prevention legislation and ways they can get involved in Students Demand Action. The podcast was launched in November 2020 and its first season featured a diverse range of speakers like Congressman Jimmy Gomez and Cara Levine.

The podcast has been renewed for a second season and new episodes will start airing in July 2021.

“Inspiring Others to Take Action Through the 3 Homegirls No Gun Podcast”

“We’ve had some touching experiences with our guests because they always bring in something personal or how gun violence has impacted them. It’s been alarming how many stories they have.”

—Julie Matamoros

Listen to the Podcast

2021 Proposal Winner 

In 2021 we advanced two proposals from two different cities, Nashville and Detroit. Detroit’s proposal encompassed secure storage work, an initiative that Students Demand Action volunteers are focusing on nationwide as well. In Nashville, the selected proposal centers on the connection between mental and physical wellbeing in the gun violence prevention movement, a topic that will be discussed in-depth in a roundtable discussion held by this proposal winner in the summer of 2022!

“I am 14 years old and I can help reduce gun violence in my community”

Ailyn Perez

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.

Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles


Urban Peace Institute


Alumni of the Summer Leadership Academy are continuing to lead across the country and with Students Demand Action! Alumni of the program have started Students Demand Action groups in Nashville, TN; Tampa, FL, and Los Angeles, CA—we look forward to continuing to support our alumni in their organizing work and beyond.

Looking Forward to 2023

Are you looking to host a Summer Leadership Academy in your city or to continue to host a program in a 2022 host city for 2023? Applications to host the Summer Leadership Academy in your city for 2023 will open in late summer 2022—keep checking back here for updates on this process and for the application! Keep in mind that you must be 18+ to apply to host a Summer Leadership Academy. If you have questions, please contact the Students Demand Action team.