2.2.1 - Leadership Development Page Photo

Leadership development is integral to CFJ’s goal of helping youth improve their schools and communities. We empower students by giving them the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to organize their peers to fight for the solutions they need at their schools. At Californians for Justice, young people lead at every level – our chapters, board of directors and staff all center the leadership of youth.

Political Education

CFJ staff and student leaders hold workshops with chapter members throughout the school year to educate and politicize youth to understand and be able to discuss the issues that have historically affected their own lives and their communities.

Workshops include:

    • Elections – “Power at the Polls”
    • Indigenous Rights in the Americas
    • Ableism and Mental Health
    • Immigration & Labor Movement in the US
    • History of Student Movements and Educational Justice

Summer Youth Leadership Academy:

SYLA Photo

The Summer Youth Leadership Academy (SYLA) is an intensive 7-week introduction to community organizing and social justice movements. SYLA develops students’ skills in areas such as public speaking, media literacy, action research, and social change strategies. Students participate in a variety of educational workshops including the history of public education, the roots of education inequality, LGBT and gender justice, and environmental racism. With a background in the history of social justice movements, as well as advocacy and organizing tactics, hundreds of SYLA graduates have gone on to lead CFJ chapters and campaigns with the knowledge and skills needed to organize their peers to create change.

Throughout the summer, SYLA youth also do community outreach, visit other organizations working toward social change, and meet with local policy makers to advocate for the improvements they want to see in their schools by utilizing their personal stories.

At the conclusion of the program the students apply their knowledge and skills by coordinating the annual End of SYLA community event to educate and inspire community members to take action for just schools.

Statewide Leadership Retreat

CFJ’s annual Statewide Leadership Retreat (SLR) is a 2 day 2 night retreat where student leaders from Oakland, San Jose, Fresno, and Long Beach gather to deepen their leadership skills, build community, and advance CFJ’s statewide campaign. Throughout the retreat, student leaders attend a variety of leadership workshops ranging from basebuilding to direct action training. These workshops are opportunities for students to build community and deepen their organizing knowledge and skills.

Racial Organizers Of Today (ROOT)

Racial Organizers of Today is a training program for new student leaders to  develop their organizing skills and knowledge on campaign strategy to build youth power. Throughout the program, students also learn how to effectively tell their stories, connecting personal struggles to systemic injustices.  By the end of the program, students are ready to lead campaigns that will improve their schools and elevate the voices of their peers.