California Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative

Everyone benefits when young people are civically engaged. The Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative increases understanding of government and civic institutions and increases civic participation among low-income, disenfranchised youth and their families in urban and rural regions throughout the state for the purpose of reducing racial and socio-economic disparities.

When it comes to civic engagement, we know a lot about what urban and rural America share in common. We know that a lack of citizen engagement means the people’s interests lose out and the forces of greed and hate win. We also know that robust civic engagement leads to a just and equitable distribution of the benefits of America– better health care, jobs with livable wages, and education based on the principles of ethics and democracy.

The California Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative connects young people with solutions. The benefits and merits of voting, volunteering, serving, and actively taking a role in community problem solving are well documented. Civic engagement works! Research shows dramatic positive impacts on social-emotional learning, team-building skills, and academic achievement. The basic tenants of democracy– inclusion, cooperation, and equity—flourish when civic engagement is consistently amplified.

22,150 miles of statewide student travel through 41 CA counties, engaging with 620 organizations, and scores of elected and community leaders

Cohort members participate in:

Throughout the year, the students and their families engage in civic actions of their choice.

To learn more about the Initiative, give our offices a call today at 510-434-3988!


  • Program expansion in six counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Yolo, Santa Clara, San Mateo
  • Collaborations with 620 organizations throughout the State of California
  • 30.5 weeks of Residential Anchor Programs featuring rigorous study, statewide cultural exchanges, leadership bootcamp, and advocacy
  • 1,147 Civic Leadership Classes carried out statewide
  • 22,150 miles traveled by students covering 41 California counties
  • 200 Leadership Seminars featuring 261 congressional, state and local elected officials, Tribal and community leaders
  • Creation of Democracy Education Production resource bank featuring videos, films and publications promoting civic engagement best practices, methodology and content
  • Youth leadership ladder for student placement in internships, fellowships, policy research, advocacy and paid employment
  • Curricular and class collaborations with Stanford University’s World House Project and Dr. Clayborne Carson, with collaborative production of Stanford’s Dr. King International Documentary Film Festival
  • Launch of Yolo County Youth Commission with Yolo County Office of Education, county departments and supervisors
  • Youth and family advocacy impacting state and regional civic engagement policies
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