Programs and Campaigns

Programs and Campaigns image of kids

Youth Development and Youth Leadership

Policy in action is a distinguishing CDF characteristic. Through nationwide initiatives and community-based programs, we plant the seeds to develop the next generation of servant-leaders who will continue to reweave the fabric of community for children and youth. Our vision is to create a successor generation of servant-leaders who will drive community and national transformations and inspire and make long-term improvements for children.

Young Advocate Leadership Training (YALT®) Program

YALT program

An overarching Children’s Defense Fund priority is to build a strong, effective successor generation of young servant leaders to carry on the struggle for freedom and justice. CDF has committed to a five year campaign to train 5,000 next generation leaders, to ensure a robust youth leadership pipeline and ongoing structures for service and advocacy in communities across America. Through the Young Advocate Leadership Training (YALT®) program, CDF provides a beginner, intermediate, and advanced training series to equip the next generation’s leaders with the skills and support needed to take national, state and local action to replace the cradle to prison pipeline with a pipeline to college, productive work, and successful adulthood. Learn more about the YALT program. If you are interested in joining a YALT training or have participated in past years and would like to re-engage, please contact Omar Cardenas at

Youth Policy Advisory Committee

The Youth Policy Advisory Committee is comprised of high school youth from the Los Angeles area, including Beat the Odds scholarship recipients. The Youth Policy Advisory Committee (YPAC) was created in order to increase CDF-CA youth engagement with CDF-CA policy priorities. CDF-CA provides the youth with skills workshops in leadership development, time management, financial literacy, community mapping, action planning, and communication, as well as training on current CDF policy initiatives. YPAC serves as the youth voice when developing and implementing CDF-CA policy and programs.  YPAC started in the summer of 2011 and continues to grow. In March 2012, YPAC organized a youth-led summit to reform school discipline and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. If you are interested in joining YPAC please contact Omar Cardenas at