Past Work & Achievements

Here is a snapshot of California Center for Civic Participation's work over our 38 year history, always guided by our mission: to empower youth to be active and valued participants in decision making processes at all levels.

Throughout this page you'll also see quotes from youth interviewed about their experiences with the CalCenter. We welcome you to hear first-hand from our most important constituents!

Youth Advisory Group 


The Youth Advisory Group (YAG) was comprised of 10 young people, ages 14-24, selected among the Sacramento area who provide guidance for current and future program development. 

"Nothing about us, without us."

With recent changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we've had to rethink how we engage with our youth participants and the YAG. Although current circumstances have made us adapt to our changing environment, we see this as the perfect opportunity to get creative with the YAG and collectively envision a new path forward for youth civic engagement in California. With the YAG's help we'll be able to innovate and create new, nontraditional pathways for ALL students to become engaged in the political process based on their interests and unique talents.

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During YAG, participants were able to:

  • Engage in a series of civics education, school curriculum & discipline reform, and social justice awareness training's intended to educate and build knowledge

  • Provide perspectives and insight into the lives of young people in order to best serve them

  • Help create a new vision for youth civic engagement in California

  • Support in program and issue research

  • Provide recommendations on social media outreach and promotion of new and existing programs

The California Roast is a festive annual tradition conducted in Sacramento for over thirty years.


Governors, Speakers, Senate Presidents, Attorney Generals, Treasurers, Budget Chairs, Democratic and Republican Party leaders and others gather to pay “respect” each year to the honoree. The humorous and edgy crossfire of our high profile panel provides our audience with insights into the present, history and future of California politics.


Over six hundred attend including legislators from both parties, lobbyists, executive branch officials, political and public affairs consultants, friends and foes of the Roastee, and others. They appreciate the insights into the dynamics and personalities affecting the legislative, budget-making and political processes of that moment. The California Roast and the jokes are featured in the press, websites and social media exchanges.

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Visit our Resources page to see Roast posters from 2000-2018. Each one is a unique illustration made only for that year's event. Download your favorites!

Past Roastees

2018 - California Toast | A Tribute to California Women: Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates,       

           Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, Senator Janet Nguyen, Senate 

           President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Secretary Mona Pasquil Rogers

2017 - Senate Republican Leader Chad Mayes
2016 - Senate pro Tempore Kevin de León
2015 - Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins
2014 - Party Chairs John Burton and Jim Brulte
2013 - Assembly Budget Chair Bob Blumenfield
2012 - Break from the action!
2011 - Assembly Speaker John Perez
2010 - Sen. Pres. pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg
2009 - Assembly Speaker Karen Bass
2008 - Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman
2007 - Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata
2006 - Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy
2005 - Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez
2004 - Brulte, Burton, Vasconcellos, Alpert, et al
2003 - State Treasurer Phil Angelides
2002 - Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson
2001 - Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte

2000 - Governor Gray Davis

1999 - Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa

1998 - Senate President pro Tempore John Burton

1997 - Senate President pro Tempore Bill Lockyer

1996 - Attorney General Dan Lungren

1995 - Assembly Speaker Willie Brown

1994 - Senator Ralph Dills

1993 - Senate Republican Leader, Ken Maddy

1992 - Judge James Garibaldi

1991 - Governor Pete Wilson

1990 - Assembly Republican Leader, Ross Johnson

1989 - Senator Al Alquist (Budget Chair)

1988 - Superintendent Bill Honig

1987 - Senator Bill Campbell

1986 - Senate President pro Tempore, David Roberti

1985 - Attorney General John Van De Kamp

1984 - Governor George Deukmejian

1982 - Assembly Speaker Willie Brown

“Meeting the legislators was something that really opened my eyes. I was never into politics, but now I‘m thinking about it. Just the fact they were talking to us and hearing our opinions, that was huge: that our voices still mattered...and to get the tools to help make our voices matter. So now I’m looking at trying to be the leader of something positive for people, to help them work toward their future. ”

Capitol Focus (1982-2010)

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.  


From the start, interactive activities get our participants thinking and acting. They learn the language of politics and quickly put it to use by interviewing experts who hold a wide range of views on the current issues. Working individually and in collaboration, our participants think through contrasting perspectives and get to express their support for, or opposition of, real legislation currently under debate by lawmakers.


Our presence in Sacramento and our lasting relationships with the players in state politics allow us to offer a unique experience to youth. We have access to a rich pool of supporters who lend their expertise to our programs. Capitol Focus gives young people a chance to see, up close, how politics and public policy work. We aim to foster life-long enthusiasm for the democratic process and to give youth an opportunity to visualize their own possibilities in this world.

HEAL Zones (2004-2015)

The HEAL Zones are a Kaiser Permanente program designed to help make healthy choices more accessible to people in underserved communities.


Inspired by its mission to improve community health, Kaiser Permanente developed the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Initiative program in 2004 to support healthy behaviors and reduce obesity through clinical practice and sustained community-level change. In 2005, the HEAL initiative grew to include place-based work. 


The California Center for Civic Participation worked with the 10 Southern California HEAL Zones to support youth leadership in local policy and systems change work that will ensure youth have access to healthy foods and opportunities to be physically active in their schools and communities.  


The CalCenter provided one-on-one technical assistance to the sites and coordinated trainings. We worked with adults, trained them to build strong youth-adult partnerships, and provide tools to help communities fully engage youth in their work.  We work with the youth, training them in youth-adult partnerships, state and local policy advocacy and youth organizing. Participating sites have made tangible changes in their nutrition and physical environments including healthier options in vending machines and enhanced walking and running paths in community parks. The youth also have the opportunity to visit the State Capitol to learn how change can move from the individual, to the local, to the statewide policy making level.

“CalCenter has a process, regardless of what issue the youth is interested in, to engage them in an authentic way. Others work on specific issues, but CalCenter has a framework for getting them involved and leads to sustainable change. ”

Health 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.

“I remember us all going out to dinner together. They knew all our names. That connection, not all programs take the time to learn about people outside of the actual program...and you really stay close. From that program you don’t just walk away, you maintain a relationship between the CalCenter and you. ”

Youth Worker Safety (2004-2006)

For 3 years the CalCenter 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.

“ gives them a chance to see public officials in a setting that you’re not used to, a more comfortable setting, and it allows them to feel more a part of that government is doing so they know how they can actually interact with it.”

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

For 2 years the CalCenter 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)

CalCenter 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 Science 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 CalCenter 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.

...and a few others

  • 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)


Climate Adaptation Storybook (2016)

Green Focus was featured in the California Natural Resources Agency’s Climate Adaptation Storybook in the fall of 2016 as a return on investment program, preparing the next generation to address the environmental challenges brought on by climate change. We are thrilled to have been a part of these climate adaptation stories and we are proud that many of our youth have embraced sustainable living and political advocacy as they grow into into adulthood. Download the Storybook to learn more, and click here for more information on our Green Focus program.

SACOG awards Sacramento Youth Council for Sustainable Communities


The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) bestowed its Mary Brill Youth Excellence Award on the Sacramento Youth Council for Sustainable Communities in 2011. The Youth Council is comprised of young people focused on promoting healthy and equitable land use, transportation and food systems and ensuring that youth voice and action are the norm of planning and policy decisions. The students have collaborated on design of complete streets at two Sacramento high schools, canvassed neighborhoods regarding the siting of a fast food restaurant, worked on community garden initiatives, and are working on a pilot program to test a cargo bike to deliver CSA boxes to low-income neighborhoods.

Launching the President’s Youth Council (PYC) at The California Endowment

The CA Center has a very special history with the PYC. As a recognized “Anchor Partner” of the CA Endowment, we collaborated in launching the project and establishing members of the President’s Youth Council back in 2012. Since then, Movement Strategy Center has taken the reigns as the lead organization supporting this group, but the CalCenter played a central role in the project in the formative years, guiding the youth in their efforts to advocate their priorities to Dr. Ross. The CalCenter was charged with assisting PYC members in this process and made space for them to shape their message to executive staff at TCE.  

Since then, these young people have stepped up as lead thought partners who have begun to change the narrative about what youth can do when they organize and think critically about how to transformation systems that require deep-seated change, so that youth and their families can thrive. As a result of their hard work, leadership and commitment, they have increased the CA Endowments awareness and capacity to respond to the needs of youth throughout the state with initiatives and programs. They have also helped shape the priorities of the CA Endowment and its affiliated partners to include youth in more decision-making processes at the local and state level. More recently, the PYC has recruited new youth members to the Council and intends to engage them in today’s most pressing issues affecting youth in every community of California.