Democracy is a verb.


Action Civics CA

Action Civics CA is leveraging Issues to Action with teachers and youth throughout Southern California.

Modeled after Mikva Challenge’s successful civic engagement programming developed for youth in Chicago, Action Civics CA provides opportunities for young people in Southern California to engage in Action Civics, community problem-solving, and seeks to increase youth voice in local decision-making processes. Through our program youth become more prepared to be leaders in their college, career, and community.

Students were empowered through the process of examining issues in their community and taking action to spread the word about their issues. It was a powerful experience for them to hear from each other and see themselves as agents of change.
– Linda Yaron, Action Civics CA Teacher

Action Civics CA’s signature work is our Issues to Action program in which local teachers implement a curriculum that empowers students with the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to be “superstar citizens” and community advocates. At its core is the idea that students explore their communities from an asset-based perspective, identify issues that are important to them and their community, research the issue, analyze power, and ultimately develop an strategy plan and take action. We train teachers in this curriculum, provide ongoing classroom support, and host city-wide events that gather all participating students to showcase their efforts. Learn more about the Issues to Action program.

As part of our Issues to Action work, students participate in our Project Soapbox competition. Project Soapbox is a public speaking competition facilitated by Action Civics CA that calls young people to speak out on issues that affect them and their communities. These powerful speeches have lasting, transformative impacts on classrooms, schools, and communities. Watch our Project Soapbox youth in action on our YouTube channel. 

Youth in this program:

  • SPEAK OUT about issues affecting them, their schools’ and communities
  • ADVOCATE for change in their schools and communities
  • COLLABORATE with young people from different backgrounds
  • RESEARCH an issue and set a goal
  • DEVELOP an action plan to affect change
  • SHOWCASE their year-long activism efforts at Action Civics LA’s sponsored events
Noteworthy Achievements:
    • In the 2018-19 school year, the California chapter increased its impact to support 10 new schools, 7 of which are a part of a new collaboration with Anaheim Union School District to provide greater youth civic involvement opportunities throughout the city.And to better represent the growing population we serve and our educator-fueled movement building power, we are changing our name and are, officially, ACTION CIVICS CA!
    • High School Insider of the LA Times profiles the 2018 Action Civics Showcase at LA City Hall sponsored by Councilmember Ryu.
    • In 2017 our Action Civics school, Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, received California’s highest award for Civic Education – The Award of Excellence  awarded by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.
    • We hosted a Youth Activism Conference in February 2015 at the LA Central Library that was attended by nearly 200 teens.
    • After participating in Action Civics CA Issues to Action program and events,
      • 97% of students felt they were better at working together within a group
      • 95% of students felt they improved their public speaking skills
      • 96% of students felt what they shared was important to others
      • 96% of students felt they were a part of a larger community of young people from high schools across the city.
      • 99% of students felt their action project had a positive impact on their community and/or school.
      • 99% of students now believe that youth have the power to improve their school or community.
      • 90% of participants of this program agreed with the statement “I believe I can make some difference in solving community problems” as compared to 38% before the program and only 55% of youth nationwide.
    • After implementing the Issues to Action curriculum into their classrooms,
      • 100% of teachers agree that the program led to their students increasing their civic knowledge
      • 100% agree that the curriculum improved their teaching practice
  • We took five Southern California American Soapbox winners to Washington DC to perform their speeches in Lafayette Square and participate in the Mikva Challenge National Youth Summit.
  • Through the 2016-2017 academic year, Action Civics CA partnered with the Skirball Cultural Center on an 8-week in-class artist residency titled “From Issues to Action: Art-Making for Democracy.”
  • Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu sponsored our Action Civics Showcase in the Tom Bradley Room of City Hall for nearly 100 youth.

My experiences with Action Civics CA has not only greatly informed me on politics, but has given me the confidence to speak openly on my views and inform others in my community as well.

—Action Civics CA high school student

Action Civics CA Youth Spotlights!

American Soapbox winner, Megan McCall, speaks on student advocacy and school-wide recycling program. Follow link for more!

American Soapbox winner, Sebastian Rios-Barragan, speaks on community violence and anxiety. Follow link to read more!

Youth Activist, Cyanne Rangel, speaks on her campaigning trip in Iowa and advocacy work in Boyle Heights. Follow link to read more!

Youth Activist, Wagner Escobedo, speaks on the relevance of youth voice and the importance of immigration for the nation.              Follow link to read more!

Participating Action Civics CA Schools
  • Augustus F. Hawkins Community Health Advocates School
  • Augustus F. Hawkins Responsible Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship School
  • Century High School
  • Dale Junior High School
  • Doig Intermediate
  • Hancock Park Elementary School
  • High Tech High – Chula Vista
  • High Tech High – North County
  • Legacy High School Complex
  • Lexington Middle School
  • Long Beach Polytechnic High School
  • Mendez High School
  • Northwood High School
  • Pathways Community Charter School
  • Santa Ana High School
  • Santiago Elementary School
  • Social Justice Humanitas Academy
  • University High School
  • Valor Academy High School
2016-2017 Impacts at a Glance

Action Civics CA Board of Directors

Ethan Falk, Board Chair
Attorney, Falk & Sharp, A Professional Corporation

Kamy Akhavan
Executive Director,

Ali Bissonnette
Chief of Staff, Center for the Political Future, USC David and Dana Dornsife

Ellyce Cooper

Leelai Demoz
Small Ax

Michelle Herczog
Social Studies Director, Los Angeles County Department of Education

Cynthia Hirschhorn
Unycyn Civic Arts, Civicas, River LA Board Member

Edgar Khalatian
Attorney, Mayer Brown

Laura Krafft
TV Writer

Steve Krone
Lawyer, Movie Executive

Christian Lindke
Program Director, Arsalyn Program of Ludwick Family Foundation

Tony Pennay
Chief Learning Officer, Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute

Erica Rameriz
Teacher, CHAS Academy – Hawkins Campus

Saul Sarabia
Founder and Principal, Solidarity Consulting

Clint Schaff
VP Strategy, Los Angeles Times

Tony Terry
LAUSD Middle School Teacher

Adam Wemmer
Teacher, Cal State Long Beach & Pacifica High School, Garden Grove Unified School District

Jason Woliner
Director and writer

Linda Yaron
Professor, University of Southern California

Action Civics CA Partners Board

Diana Colin, Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
John Dobard, Advancement Project
Marilú Guevara, League of Women Voters of Los Angeles
Mary Kim, Dept of Neighborhood Empowerment
Semee Park, Dept of Neighborhood Empowerment
Andrew Suh, Office of Councilmember Ryu
Liz Vogel, Facing History & Ourselves
Mona Yeh, Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing

Help Action Civics CA provide high-quality leadership and civics programs to teens through your generosity. Your gift helps us build a better democracy one leader at a time.
Want to activate? Sign up for volunteer opportunities here!

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students from 117 schools nationwide presented speeches and/or worked on civic action projects


of Mikva alumni are registered voters, vs. only 53% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide


of Mikva alumni encourage their friends and family to be politically engaged, vs. only 35% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide


young people served in the Chicagoland area, California and Washington DC


teachers participate in Mikva Challenge programs across the country.


of Mikva alumni continue to volunteer in their communities, vs. only 36% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide


students campaigned during the 2015-16 Election Season


Mikva students serve as election judges each election cycle

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