Art of Leadership2024-02-29T16:18:55+00:00

The Art of Leadership program brings together 10th and 11th grade public and independent school students of diverse backgrounds to develop leadership skills and engage in dialogue across cultural barriers.

Through guest speakers and experiential opportunities, students are exposed to community challenges and develop fresh perspectives on how to address them. The Program strives to motivate its participants to become leaders in the Baltimore community.

Apply to the Art of Leadership Cohort 10 here: 

Please note the deadline for Cohort 10 applications is March 24, 2024!



  • Twelve-month long program starting in August
  • Meets once or twice a month on Sunday afternoons
  • Creation of a Capstone Public Art Project
  • Session topics include: History of Race and Class in Baltimore, Ability and Disability, and Mental Health


  • A current 9th or 10th grade student
  • Driven to build your leadership and advocacy skills
  • Curious about exploring Baltimore
  • Interested in having honest conversations with a diverse group of students
  • Passionate about social justice issues and improving your community


There is a $2,000 per student fee for the program. Acceptance to the Art of Leadership program is need-blind; it is based on merit with no consideration of financial need. Financial aid, both full and partial scholarships, and payment options are readily available and will be distributed upon acceptance to the program.


“The most important thing I have learned in the Art of Leadership is that it is okay to step outside of your comfort zone and to challenge yourself. You get the opportunity to learn more about yourself.”
Crystal, Dunbar High School

“I have learned that no matter the race, color or background of someone if you work together and get past one another’s differences, you can do anything.”
Patrick, Loyola Blakefield

“The Art of Leadership has exposed her to new experiences, people, and places within our city/community which has had a positive impact on her outlook/perspective of where we live.”
April, Art of Leadership Parent


Please direct any inquiries about the Art of Leadership program to bailey@artwithaheart.net

The purpose of the Art of Leadership program is to bring together youth for experiential opportunities and leadership development to better our communities. Our belief is that strong leaders can effect change and positively impact our communities.

The Art of Leadership program was designed to provide an opportunity in Baltimore that did not previously exist by bringing together a cohort of young people from diverse backgrounds. These aspiring leaders will participate in workshops and experiences that will explore societal issues. The diversity of the cohort is essential in examining issues, fostering rich discussions, and effecting change.

The program runs from August to July (12 months). Leadership sessions are held once or twice a month on Sunday afternoons. In addition to the monthly meetings, there are two retreats in the fall and spring. During summer break, the cohort will work together to create a Capstone Public Art Project, at a Baltimore location chosen by the cohort and Art of Leadership team.

Each session will focus on different topics and social justice issues, and reinforce an array of leadership competencies and advocacy skills. Sessions typically last 4 or 5 hours, and may be held in person (with health checks, socially distanced and wearing masks) or virtually. Example sessions include an interactive History of Baltimore focused on race and class, the FACTUALITY Game with Natalie Gillard, Ability and Disability, Mental Health, and retreats which focus on community building and stepping outside your comfort zone. Meals and snacks are always included!

The Art of Leadership accepts applications from students who are in 9th or 10th grade when the application is open each year, from November through March. Accepted participants must begin 10th or 11th grade at the start of the program year in August.  Candidates must have an interest in leadership development and dedication to learning and sharing in a diverse environment.

No! Candidates do not need to have artistic talent or skills. During the program, all participants will work together to create a community art project, but artistic skill is not required.

Candidates can apply online starting in November. The online application requires the participant to submit general contact and demographic information, list relevant experiences, and complete short answer questions. A non-family member, such as a teacher, coach, mentor, or counselor, must also submit a letter of recommendation. Candidates who successfully pass the application process will be invited to interview.

Each cohort selects around 15 students to participate. Candidates are welcome to reapply the following year if they meet the eligibility requirements.

The program cost is $2000, which includes food, entrance fees, experiential programs, and speaker fees. If you apply for financial aid, full and partial scholarships are readily available to cover this cost.

Accepted participants should meet with their school-based service learning/community service coordinator to determine whether the Program is eligible and approved for service learning hours. If approved, the program will provide up to 30 hours of service learning/community service through participation in the Capstone Public Art Project.

Upon successful completion of the program, leaders become part of a growing Alumni Network with current ties to college campuses across the nation. Alumni will take their knowledge, experience, and skill set with them into their careers in Baltimore and around the world while serving as a wide network to share skills, resources, and opportunities with one another.

Alumni also have the opportunity to join the Art of Leadership Alumni Council, to act as liaisons and support between the AOL staff and AOL Alumni Network, assisting in the organization of Alumni events and initiatives, creating social media posts, helping to secure and generate content for Alumni Newsletters, and contributing to program planning and content. Art of Leadership Alumni Council members can expect to continue to develop their leadership skills, receive additional training in event planning and facilitation skills, and have support for all given tasks and responsibilities from the AOL Director and Coordinator. If you are an AOL Alumni interested in joining the Alumni Council, email Bailey DesRoches at: bailey@artwithaheart.net

Each year, two participants from the previous year’s cohort may be accepted as fellows, bringing direct youth perspective to the next year’s cohort experience, and putting into practice the leadership skills they developed the year prior. Art of Leadership Fellows play a critical role in helping to manage the logistics of the monthly sessions and aid in the planning and implementation of the curriculum. Fellows will also have the opportunity to enhance their leadership and facilitation skills during one-on-one meetings with the Director and Coordinator.

The year concludes with a Capstone Public Art Project: Leaders are guided in a process to select a community partner. The team works with Art with a Heart public art directors and the partners’ leadership to design, create, build, and install their art. Past project partners include MCVET (Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training), Safe Streets and the Rose Street Community Center, Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson Public Charter School, the Franciscan Center of Baltimore, and the William S. Baer School.





The Art of Leadership Advisory Board works together to ensure a creative and dynamic program. The Board is composed of a diverse group of individuals from the community, business, and philanthropic sectors, and Art of Leadership Alumni who are passionate about developing the next generation of Baltimore leaders.

  • Natasha Blake-McDowell
  • Marilyn Carp
  • Tricia Ellis
  • Mohamed Gheis
  • Natalie Gillard
  • Nimra Khan
  • Linda Kohler
  • Monica Mitchell
  • Jessica Suriano
  • Jacqueline Toner
  • Patrick Sawyer (Cohort 1 alum)
  • Tyler DuBose (Cohort 1 alum)
  • Jonathan Elliott (Cohort 4 alum)

Art with a Heart Board Representation

  • Shelly Malis, Ex-Officio President
  • Alyson Friedman, Board Member
  • Sarah Shapiro, Ex-Officio Director

Internships available for high school and college students


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