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Each host city is led by a core team member from Students Demand Action. Learn more about these leaders and their involvement in the host cities.

Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Summer Leadership Academy is the foundation of Chicago Students Demand Action supporting students in low-income and BIPOC communities in Chicago to organize against gun violence in our communities. The program seeks to build leadership development skills in participants and  strengthen relationships between students, community members, and lawmakers working to address gun violence in Chicago.

The Chicago Summer Leadership Academy will guide students and community members to be part of the effort to reduce gun violence our communities. This program will work to educate participants about gun violence in their community and provide an introduction to effective gun violence prevention strategies. The program will culminate on Impact Day in August. This public event will feature student project proposals for addressing gun violence in Detroit, build support and partnerships with local businesses, community leaders and local organizations working to address gun violence. 

Throughout the summer, students will learn about the gun violence prevention movement and gain real-world organizing experience that will enhance Students Demand Action’s presence in Chicago. They’ll graduate from the program equipped with the skills and resources to recruit students to be a part of the movement, develop and strengthen partnerships with existing community organizations, talk to lawmakers and community stakeholders about data-oriented solutions, and collaborate with other young people to address gun violence in Chicago.

Chicago Core Team

Justin Funez photo

Justin Funez

I’m currently a second-year student at the University of Chicago. I joined Students Demand Action in June of 2019 thanks to the pilot Summer Leadership Academy in South Central Los Angeles. Before moving to South Central, I lived in Honduras for nine years and in Mexico for seven years. During these years, I faced everyday gun violence, but I didn’t recognize it was gun violence. I just assumed it was part of my everyday life. While living in South Central, I realized that this is an epidemic that affects people of all races, gender, socioeconomic status, and even across different countries. Last summer I had the opportunity to host the first-ever Chicago Summer Leadership Academy for high school students, where we discussed and took action to prevent city gun violence in our community. Now in my fourth Summer Leadership Academy, I hope to continue advocating for gun sense and against the gun violence epidemic our country faces.

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Ade Osadolor

I am currently a second-year student at the University of Chicago studying Psychology and Public Policy on a pre-med track. I joined Students Demand Action about 3.5 years ago, and right now I am part of the National Advisory Board and the Summer Leadership Academy in Chicago. I became involved in the gun violence prevention movement after I realized that gun violence is a huge issue in this country. I also had many fears as a Black and Mexican woman, and I wanted to join a movement that allowed me to be part of the change, uplift the voices of other students, and help the communities and cultures that have shaped me. This will be my second year hosting the Summer Leadership Academy in Chicago, and I’m super excited to grow this Academy and help high school students become community organizers and part of the gun violence prevention movement. I am extremely passionate about activism, but I also love playing sports, writing, and being involved in research in the medical field.

Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Summer Leadership Academy seeks to introduce local students to Students Demand Action, enhance their knowledge about gun violence prevention and demonstrate the importance of civic engagement through action. In its third year, the Los Angeles Summer Leadership Academy will continue to provide a platform for students from communities most impacted by gun violence, including low income students of color and survivors of gun violence, to be the change they want to see in their community. 

Throughout the summer, students in the Los Angeles community will gain important leadership skills, learn about America’s gun violence crisis, and advocate for common sense gun safety solutions. Joining and nurturing this community enables students to practice crucial skills and create connections that prepare them for college and the rest of their lives.

The Los Angeles Summer Leadership Academy teaches students advocacy organizing and leadership skills that are essential for students looking to engage in college campus organizing and social movements. Each student will design and present a proposal to address gun violence in their community. At the conclusion of the program, students will have an opportunity to present their proposal to their community and a panel of local activists, gun violence prevention experts, and local officials to determine which proposal will be implemented in the community of South Central Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Core Team

Perla Sanchez selfie

Perla Sanchez (she/her)

My name is Perla Sanchez! I’m 18 years old and a college student at Cal State LA. I always lived in Los Angeles, and as a person who has been impacted by gun violence, I’ve seen how gun violence affects so many people and their mental health. I want to see a change in my community. I am thrilled to host the Summer Leadership Academy because I want gun violence to end and to stop seeing other innocent people get hurt.

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Martha Cigarroa (she/her)

My name is Martha Cigarroa! I am a 19-year-old college student at Cal Poly Pomona and go by the pronouns she/her. I’ve lived in Los Angeles my entire life. As someone who grew up in South Central, I have seen how impacted our communities are by gun violence in our day-to-day lives. I am hosting the Summer Leadership Academy because this pattern of violence needs to change.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee logo

Memphis is a city that is greater than the gun violence that shadows it. In turn, the Memphis Summer Leadership Academy intends to promote the voice of Memphis’ youth in community spaces and have their voices heard. Youth voices are critical to creating change in communities, especially when they are the voices of those heavily impacted by certain issues, such as gun violence. We want to better equip youths in Memphis with tools that address the impact that gun violence brings to a community. With our Summer Leadership Academy program we want to be the start of a movement to empower other youths to comprehend and address gun violence in their communities.

Furthermore, there is no similar experience on how to express the emotions that come with losing peers that look like you and are the same age as you – the humanity of the youth is at risk in Memphis, and this program hopes to provide a space for youth to process gun violence and harness the skills and tactics of gun violence prevention. Youth voices and the curriculum this program plans to introduce is a step in the right direction to a city that values youth voices, that intends to support the youth, and hopes to work towards decreasing gun violence as a whole.

Memphis Core Team

Asher Crouch headshot

Asher Crouch (he/him)

My name is Asher Crouch, and I am a senior at Crosstown High School. I am a Memphis native and have lived here my entire life. I became involved in gun violence prevention as a freshman, and during my sophomore year I co-founded the first Memphis chapter of Students Demand Action. Gun violence heavily affects the city of Memphis, which is what compelled me to take action. I am extremely excited to join this program and to continue to fight for change in the city I love.

Phoenix, Arizona

City of Phoenix logo

The Phoenix Summer Leadership Academy is a program designed to impact young adolescents who are considered “low income and at-risk” and discuss gun violence happening among the youth in the community. This program will host community awareness events, visit schools, and more, all with the goal of fostering a sense of community amongst participants and furthering participant understanding of gun violence prevention initiatives in their communities. 

The Phoenix Summer Leadership Academy will further engage a Phoenix-focused lens on gun violence and gun violence prevention efforts for the majority of the program, including programming with community partners and survivors of gun violence in the Phoenix area. The proximity to Arizona State University and this program will also draw in broader conversations that intend to help participants grasp the collegiate experience at Arizona State University and beyond, and how they can harness organizing skills and tactics to best prepare themselves for their next steps after high school graduation.

Phoenix Core Team

Yohana Galeana selfie

Yohana Galeana

My name is Yohana, and I’m 19 years old and a college student at Arizona State University. I have lived in Phoenix pretty much my whole life. I’m majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice, hoping to minor in Social Welfare. This is my first year in Students Demand Action, and I’m hoping to continue this for a few years. Gun violence has started to become more common, and I would like to reduce gun violence and host the Summer Leadership Academy to make a difference. Excited to bring the program to AZ!!

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Eman Massoud

My name is Eman Massoud, and I am a freshman at Arizona State University majoring in Criminal Justice. I grew up in Gilbert, Arizona, where I found my true passion for advocacy. My first experience with advocacy was through March for Our Lives AZ, where I lobbied at the State Capitol for a mental health bill related to gun violence prevention. From there, I became a city lead and reached out to the schools of Gilbert to ensure there was some sort of gun violence prevention club. I’m excited to join this program because I’m in a new city and I’d like to know my community better.

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Stephanie Richard

My name is Stephanie Richard, and I’m a junior at Arizona State University majoring in Criminal Justice to become a juvenile probation officer. I Grew up in Cambridge, MA but recently moved to Arizona in June 2021. This is my first year joining Students Demand Action and being a part of the Summer Leadership Academy. I am very excited to join this program because I have seen firsthand the impact gun violence has on a community.

Tampa, Florida

The Summer Leadership Academy is a peer to peer summer mentorship program supporting low-income students who have been impacted by gun violence in the Tampa community. This program will allow students an opportunity to advocate against gun violence, be educated on gun violence prevention, and be a part of a safe-zone community with their peers who share similar stories as them.

Tampa Core Team

Neha Bangalore headshot

Neha Bangalore (she/her)

Hi! My name is Neha Bangalore. I am currently serving as my school’s Students Demand Action group’s co-lead, the Tampa group’s co-lead, and the Florida group’s co-lead. I am a senior in high school, and I will be a freshman in college next year. I have been involved in Students Demand Action since my freshman year of high school, and I have loved every minute of it. This organization has presented me with numerous opportunities to create change in my community. This is my second year hosting the Summer Leadership Academy for Tampa! Last year’s program was incredible, and I am so excited for all the changes we will bring this year! I have been involved with politics and debate since middle school, and I love to work with topics like international humanitarian law through Red Cross, poverty, our environment, feminism, animal cruelty, and gun violence. I am interested in medicine and programming as well. I want to be able to work a job that I love, but also a job that allows me to dedicate time to things I am passionate about. Some hobbies I have are reading, dancing, drawing, and watching an unbelievable amount of TV shows in one sitting.

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Ashanti Johnson (she/her)

My name is Ashanti Johnson, and I am a second-year student at Hillsborough Community College studying healthcare administration management as well as billing and coding. I became involved with Students Demand Action to help educate and spread awareness of gun violence.

Azra Khan headshot

Azra Khan (she/her)

My name is Azra, and I am a part of the Summer Leadership Academy in Tampa. I am currently a junior majoring in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. I have been involved with Students Demand Action since 2020, and it’s something I like to do in order to promote awareness about gun violence and prevention. Students Demand Action and the Summer Leadership Academy are both very important to me because I think the first step to our goal is bringing awareness to such a big issue that is not getting the change and action needed to help.

Washington D.C.

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The Washington D.C. Summer Leadership Academy will serve as a consistent and safe space for youth to grow their inner advocate. We will provide access to resources, opportunities for connections, career development, and advocacy experiences. We hope by the end of the program, students feel empowered to be agents of change in their own communities. 

The theme of the D.C. Summer Leadership Academy is building a stronger understanding of a comprehensive form of resistance in line with D.C. needs, resources, and programs, asserting that everyone is an asset to the Gun Violence Prevention movement. This program plans to meet with community partners in a variety of activism areas, from food justice and equity to community safety, and it seeks to use these activities to garner interest around different areas of advocacy and intervention that may pique participants interest. At the end of this program participants will be able to utilize community-based knowledge to formulate their own plans for gun violence prevention strategies.

Washington D.C. Core Team

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Shayna Druckman

I am a junior at George Washington University, where I study Human Services & Social Justice as well as STEM Education. I have worked within the gun violence prevention space since 2018 and currently serve as a student representative with Moms Demand Action DC. I also help lead a national team working to resource and support Students Demand Action chapters across the country. The Summer Leadership Academy has given me the chance to combine all of my passions: gun violence prevention, youth development, and curriculum design. I am so excited to bring our program to DC!

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Celeste Iroha

My name is Celeste Iroha. I am a junior in college, majoring in Health Services and minoring in International Affairs at Trinity Washington University in DC. I plan on going to medical school in the near future. I was born in Fort Bragg, NC but lived in Maryland my whole life. I have experienced gun violence firsthand and have made it my mission to be a part of the change to end gun violence in our communities once and for all. 

2022 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

Toms

Urban Peace Institute