Summer Leadership Institute

The Summer Leadership Institute is Groundswell's flagship summer jobs program that employs youth as apprentice artists from July to August to create beautiful large-scale works of public art throughout New York City.


Mobilized by national conversations on youth leadership and social inequities, the youth artists bring key community issues to life through the mural-making process. For each project, a team of two Groundswell teaching artists and 15 to 20 youth engage with community organizations and city agencies to use public space as a canvas. Through research, design, and fabrication, their murals will give voice to their experiences as young people in New York City by making visible critical issues in order to inspire the next generation of leaders.


Each mural has three public events. After an intensive research process, the artist teams present their concept to the community during a public design share. Then for a community painting day, the teams invite the local community to join them on the wall in a day of painting and activities. At the end of the summer, we celebrate the completed murals during a dedication ceremony.


The Summer Leadership Institute brings together visions of positive change from our diverse stakeholders, from youth and neighborhood residents, to city agencies and wall owners, to social activists across the globe.


You can support the youth artivists of the Summer Leadership Institute. Your generosity provides SLI’s artmaking materials, youth stipends and educational field trips—and helps young people use art as a catalyst for personal and societal change. Learn more.

Murals in this Series

  • Project

    Be the Change

    Be the Change encourages elders to serve as mentors so that the young people of the Castle Hill H...

  • Project

    The Balance - The Four Faces of Health

    A team of young artists have inspired a holistic view of healthy living at the Queensbridge House...

  • Project

    Compass of Dreams

    Painted on a handball court, the mural, entitled Compass of Dreams, illustrates two complementary...