Our Mission

To empower youth to be active and valued participants in decision making processes at all levels.

What's New at Cal Center

Green Focus 2016/2017 are still being accepted!

Sacramento area high school students are encouraged to apply for the Green Focus program which started in late October 2016. We are currently still taking applications until January 27, 2017 for mid-year entry.  http://californiacenter.org/docs/Student_Program_Application.Jan.pdf 

More News

Story of the Month

Was Jaime Huff a participant in Capitol Focus?

Jaime Huff, Manager of Government Affairs for Southern California Edison was considering a recommendation to support our work.  Later, while tidying up our conference room, I discovered a dusty photo scrap book about a class and their trip to Capitol Focus in 1997. The cover had a young lady that looked a lot like Jaime Huff.  Was it really Jaime? 

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The California Roast

2016 Roastee

Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León was roasted on May 31, 2016 in Sacramento. Who should be our next roastee?

2016 Roastee

Past Work

This is a representation of the work that California Center for Civic Participation has done over our 25 year history.  

Policy Leadership Programs (2004-2010)

Our Policy Leadership Programs trained youth in community engagement and public policy.  During the school year, youth attended two statewide trainings, conducted research to assess local needs, and became active participants in the public policy process by developing and implementing projects in their communities.  They gained support from partnerships with community based programs; spoke at state and national conferences; and conducted outreach to educate their communities, local policymakers, and state officials about the importance of adolescent health issues.

From 2007-2010 the Young Women’s Health Leadership Program (YWHLP) empowered young people throughout California to serve as advocates improving the health conditions of women. 

From 2004-2010 the Policy Leadership Program in School Health ensured that youth from throughout the state worked to improve access to health services including school based health clinics, school nurses and health education on their high school campuses.

From 2004-2010 the Statewide Youth Board on Obesity Prevention engaged youth in improving access to healthy foods and physical activity options in their communities and beyond. 

Youth Worker Safety (2004-2006)

For 3 years the California Center partnered with UCLA, UC Berkeley, the Commission on Health, Safety and Worker’s Compensation to host the annual Young Worker Leadership Academy.  The goals of the program were for young adults to become leaders and advocates for teen labor rights and health and safety.  Participants became familiar with young worker safety issues, learned about the policy making process and developed collective statements reflecting their perspectives on how to address young worker safety issues. 

Catapult (2002-2005)

Catapult, a project in partnership with the Great Valley Center, trained youth from 18 counties in the central valley in leadership, service projects, and policy and advocacy. It also promoted the practice of youth development within local communities as a strategy for engaging youth in policymaking and community building.  Participants worked together for a school year to dive into the issues that affected youth in their areas and developed community driven approaches to improve communities.  They conducted local projects, advocated for local policy changes and educated local youth and adults.

New Partners for Smart Growth Youth Delegate Track (2002-2003)

For 2 years the California Center supported a cadre of 30 youth who attended the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference.  By hosting a pre-conference meeting and tailoring activities to ensure youth had the opportunity to actively engage in conversations, California Center ensured that youth felt they had a voice and a complete understanding of the issues being discussed at the conferences.

Political Discovery (2001-2006)

Political Discovery was an annual political awareness conference open to eighth graders.  During lively interactive sessions with professionals representing the legislative branch, lobbying organizations, businesses and the media participants examined current statewide issues from a variety of perspectives, then cast their own votes.  The overall goal of the program was to develop enthusiasm for the democratic process, along with knowledge, confidence, and critical thinking skills necessary for effective participation in the system.

City of Los Angeles Charter Revision (1998)

California Center facilitated the youth input into the 1998 revision of Los Angeles’ City Charter.  By convening groups of youth from throughout the city and training them in the language, purpose and intent of the charter, the Center was able to engage youth in creating, administering and interpreting surveys of youth in the city which lead to young people presenting the youth perspective to the body of city officials, residents and consultants who were charged with drafting the revision.

Computational Sciences Program (1993-2001)

During these 2-day conferences youth of color were provided first-hand exposure to the science, math, and technology of computers and associated careers.  In partnership with Cal Tech in Pasadena youth were exposed to the people who worked in the field, assured there was a place for youth of color in the world of computer sciences and introduced to the challenges and rewards of a career in computer sciences. 

Community Perspectives (1987-1997)

Community Perspectives was a program designed to focus on local city and county issues in 6 communities in California.  In each community a local planning team partnered with California Center to plan a 3-day long conference for high school students.  The conferences included forums focusing on local issues during which students met with city and county officials.  They also had workshops and debates on ballot measures that were local and specific to their municipalities.  Students completed mock ballots and reported to local officials their results. 

Elections (1988-2006)

Annual 3-day Elections conferences trained teams of youth and adults from communities across the state to conduct their own conferences in their schools and communities.  The teams hosted these conferences where they distributed materials and hosted debates in order to inform their schools and communities about the issues and candidates on the ballot.  Participants received reference materials, activity plans, manuals, samples and ongoing assistance in planning and implementing their local conferences.


Young Planners Network: Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future (2009)

North American Youth Leadership Project for Sustainable Futures(2008)

Youth Leadership Academy on Mental Health Policy (2005-2006)

Sacramento City Unified School District Reform Youth Engagement (2000-2001)

California High School Environmental Policy Leadership Program (1998)

Our Major Programs

TCE Youth Leadership

The California Center is a partner in creating opportunities for youth to become leaders within programs and initiatives funded by The California Endowment.  Through this work we support the President's Youth Council, Sisters and Brothers at the Capitol and the BHC Steering Committee.  Learn more here

Green Focus

This six month program examines some of California's most influential environmental laws while introducing students to the green career sector.  Learn more

Women in Politics

Women in Politics (WIP) is a four-day summer institute for young women from throughout California. Participants get a first-hand look the workings of state politics, focusing on issues affecting women and their communities. Click here to learn more about WIP!

Capitol Focus

Our longest running program, Capitol Focus is a three-day journey into the world of California politics. Participants get a first-hand look at how government works. Click here to learn more about Capitol Focus!

HEAL Zones

The California Center provides training and technical assistance around youth engagement and youth power to the 7 Southern California HEAL Zones.  Learn more here.  

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