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The Common Roots Youth Organizer Program is a joint project of the CPA and People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights(PODER), two community-based membership organizations in San Francisco that embrace direct action organizing as their primary strategy to build grassroots community power and develop leadership.
In 1998, CPA and PODER initiated the Common Roots Youth Organizer Program as a collaborative summer youth leadership program serving low-income Chinese and Latino youth in San Francisco. In 2001, the program term was expanded to a full year. Through this unique program, a core grouping of 36 youth leaders and a larger base of over 100 emerging leaders have developed cross-cultural solidarity, deepened their understanding of the social and political context to community problems, and enhanced their leadership and organizing skills. Common Roots participants have also made significant contributions to CPA's and PODER's social justice organizing campaigns in the areas of community preservation and development, housing justice, workers rights and environmental justice.
The Common Roots Program provides an opportunity to develop cross-cultural and cross-racial awareness and links among youth from the two largest immigrant communities in the U.S. The youth participating in the program go through an intensive environmental and economic justice leadership development program. Moreover, the youth are rooted in grassroots, direct action campaigns that impact on local and regional institutions that affect youth, low-income residents and people of color. The program aims to instill in youth an understanding and commitment to participating in the political process and broader movements for social change.