Cupertino – San Jose

Our Program

The San José program is an 18 quarter unit certificate in Leadership and Social Change from De Anza College in Cupertino. It is housed in the Vasconellos Institute for Democracy in Action (VIDA), which is a campus wide program supporting a variety of civic engagement projects. The main program elements of the certificate are three general education courses: Critical Consciousness and Social Change, Leadership and Power, and Justice Nature and the Geographies of Identity: Focus on the Silicon Valley; as well as 6 quarter units of internship and mentoring. See our Community Learning Partnership profile for additional information on the development of our local site:  DeAnza College / San Jose Profile.

The impact of our program includes the successful campaign by DeAnza students to have the college divest from fossil fuels.  Students from our program have actively influenced public policy decisions from immigrant rights to the cost of higher education.  We partner with other campus programs, such as Campus Camp Wellstone, to engage students in concrete, tangible campaigns, where they practice their skills and become full-blown community organizers.

Our Partnerships

We partner with a variety of community based and campus based organizations. We have an advisory group made up of representative from organizations such as SIREN (immigrant rights), Somos Mayfair (a neighborhood based community organization) Californians for Justice (a youth and advocacy organization focusing on the issues of low income students of color), LGBT Youth Space, Working Partnerships (a labor advocacy organization, and Transform(a transit advocacy group). On campus, students work with student government, TRANSITion De Anza- a transit advocacy group that works closely with Transform, and HEFAS- a resource center for undocumented students.

deanza-studentsOur Students  

We had our first group of 10 students complete the program in the spring of 2012. Around twenty students each year now complete the program.

We enroll a very diverse set of students. A large number are Latinos, a few of whom each year have been undocumented. The rest are a mix of Asian-American Pacific Islander, African-American, and White. Most of our students come from San José, and most come from low income families.

Our Approach

Our program focuses intensely on emotional intelligence and self-development. Our students get intensive mentoring in our internship program on the techniques of non-violent communication. In their other core classes they practice their leadership skills and learn to develop self-reflective habits. We focus on self-care and on pulling others in a world of social change organizing that is nurturing to the communities we are trying to create. The fall class that our cohort of students takes focuses on a deep theoretical analysis of the problems of the world, while also exposing students in every class to work done to build a better world. Students are stretched to see themselves as intellectuals who are able to analyze the problems they are trying to solve, so that they will leave us ready to work in community based organizations, but also ready to think creatively and in new ways about the kinds of solutions that social problems will need as they move forward in life.

Our Pathway

We recruit students through our Mentors for Youth Empowerment and Youth Voices United for Change program. In both of those, the ICCE works with low income high school students of color, and gets them excited about community change work. We also recruit from social justice oriented first year experience cohort programs at the college.

Most of our students transfer to four year universities after leaving us. The preferred pathway is to the Community Change Studies program at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Others have gone on to study urban planning at San Francisco State, political science at UC Berkeley, and Ethnic Studies at Mills College.

Our Innovations

Youth Voices United for Change Conference. Our program recruits students through an annual conference that brings together over two hundred high school students from under-resourced and under-served areas. Students in our program help organize this event.

Familias. To support and retain students, our program forms small groups called Familias that build strong bonds among students. Familias provide continuity even when students drop out for a semester or more for financial or other reasons.

Cohorts. To provide a stronger sense of community among students in our program, we have two cohort options. One is the General Cohort. The other is the APALI Cohort, offered in partnership with a nonprofit organization that promotes Asian Pacific American leadership in public, nonprofit and private sector decision-making. Students who join a cohort take a specified set of classes together as a group each quarter.

 Community-Based Learning in Intercultural Studies. Students complete two hundred hours in internship and practicum experiences. In this intensive mentoring class, taught by Edmundo Norte, Dean of Intercultural International Studies, they reflect on what they are doing in their internships and engage in deep learning on emotional intelligence and on working with others.

On Campus Student Activism. One unique element in our overall civic education and social justice program is the strong role which various student organizations play in giving students practical experience. For example, some students in our program practice offering popular education and literacy education to nearby farmworker families. Others provide services on immigration issues, tackle statewide issues such as funding for community colleges, and address other student concerns. Many get involved in Student Government, which provides a good forum for developing student leadership and addressing important issues.


View the brochure for this Certificate program.