Our Story

Youth organizing in California builds upon the historical legacy of young people who have been at the forefront of transformative movements for freedom and justice. Through the mid-90’s and early 2000’s young people fought back against propositions attacking youth and communities of color.  Through the momentum galvanized by these fights, young people redefined models for youth-led campaigns, organizations, and movement culture.

In the decades that followed young people built youth organizing institutions that endured and adapted to changing political contexts while remaining deeply rooted in the needs of most impacted communities.

In November 2016, Movement Strategy Center and Californians for Justice convened a steering committee of twelve long-standing youth organizations (Californians for Justice, Chinese Progressive Association, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network, InnerCity Struggle, Khmer Girls in Action, Mid-City CAN, Resilience Orange County, RYSE Center, Urban Peace Movement) to develop the vision, purpose, and initial goals for a statewide Youth Organizing Network. YO! Cali was publicly launched with 400 youth leaders and organizers at the Free Our Dreams Summit in September 2017.

Since then YO! Cali has weaved together nearly 100 youth organizing organizations across the state, supporting a thriving ecosystem of young people and organizers dreaming and fighting for a future where young people thrive.

Our Vision

We envision a world rooted in liberation, freedom, and racial justice. A world of wholeness. A world with safe and brave spaces. A world of abundant resources. A world built on mutual support, strength, leadership, and love.

We envision young people leading movements for social transformation and racial, gender, queer, trans, economic, environmental, educational, immigrant, and health justice through organizing, campaigns, electoral power building, culture, and creativity.

This is the future we are calling into existence. The future our communities demand and deserve.



  • Build youth organizing infrastructure by strengthening and sustaining the people, culture, and systems of established and emerging youth organizing organizations across the state.
  • Advance a transformative model of youth organizing that blends personal transformation, growth, and healing with youth organizing, systems change campaigns, and movement building.
  • Create statewide spaces for youth leadership and strategy to elevate and connect place-based campaigns to build power for greater impact.
  • Widen funder interest and long-term investment in youth organizing as a viable strategy for youth leadership development, community transformation and systems change.