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See How CFJ Spent the Summer Developing the Next Generation of Leaders


Over the past 5 weeks, the Californians for Justice offices across that state have been hustling and bustling with energy and excitement of youth leaders as they develop leadership abilities, grow grassroots organizing skills and hone their political education knowledge.

Each year, Summer Youth Leadership Academy (SYLA) students in each of our four regions participate in an intensive skills building and leadership development paid internship program. SYLA provides hands on learning in political education and grassroots organizing. Through this program, students share their own lived experiences and find their voice to speak out on the issues that are important to them.

Through SYLA Black, Latinx, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander LGBQ, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming students develop the skills they need to advocate for their schools and communities. Youth practiced public speaking, organizing other young people to advocate for common issues and learned about voting rights for them and their families. Using these new skills students also met with school representatives to advocate for policies that will improve their schools and bring equity to their communities.

Our SYLA graduates will bring this knowledge into the new school year and continue to build grassroots power at their campuses. By developing the leadership skills of young people of color in our communities, we are one step closer to building real racial justice in the world.

Students Reflect on SYLA 2018

Relationship Building in Long Beach

“I have made so many friends here and I have never felt left out. Having this connection made me feel at home. I could learn about others and understand their life outside of the summer youth program. Over here, we’re not just a team, we’re a family

After hearing everyone’s experiences and learning about their hardships, I could not sit still and just listen. I wanted to make a change to help my fellow peers and make a change for them; for us.”

–Humaira, Long Beach, 10th grade





Making Space for Youth Voice in Oakland

“I really want to learn how to get my voice out there, learn how to project it into the world. When you don’t speak for something that you want, you’ll never get it if you never try. I want to be able to speak for what I want and move towards my vision.”

–Jadan, Oakland, 11th grade







Growing Future Leaders in Fresno

“I was always taught to be a leader not a follower, to show people that it’s okay to do the right thing, and to be involved in community.

[I’m excited to have learned] public speaking because I know I have the tendency to stutter and get nervous when talking to people and if I work on public speaking I can feel comfortable with big and small groups by being confident in what I am saying.”

–Shay, Fresno, 12th grade




Empowering Community in San Jose

”I strongly feel that with everything that I have learned in SYLA, along with the type of leader I am, I can help teach and inform my community about their rights and the injustices going on in and outside of our community. Before joining CFJ I would have never thought about working or even looking into non-profits. CFJ has really opened my eyes to new careers and jobs.”

–Valeria, San Jose, 12th Grade


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