Latest Updates

2019 Class Applications NOW OPENED.

LEAD applications for the 2018-2019 class are now opened.

Deadline to apply is Friday, February 22, 2019.

For questions, student applicants should contact LEAD staff, Andrea Hyde, directly at Andrea.Hyde@aaci.org or (408) 975-2730 x425.

2019 LEAD Application

Apply to be a part of our 2018 class!

The 2018 LEAD application will be released on November 1! If you are a 9th-12th grade student or first year college student, apply to be a part of our prestigious program and learn how to be leaders in advocacy, policy, and service. Networking and internship opportunities are available for students who are accepted into the LEAD program. For questions about our program or fee waivers, please contact Andrea Hyde at Andrea.Hyde@aaci.org.

Applications for the 2017 class are now closed.

For more information regarding our next class in 2018, please contact Andrea Hyde at Andrea.Hyde@aaci.org.


The LEAD Program is Extending its Deadline to February 24th!

Leaders for Education, Advocacy and Democracy (LEAD) is extending its application deadline to February 24th to give more time to interested high school and college students to send in their applications! LEAD is a program of AACI that provides high school and college students with the skills, training, and opportunities to become champions of their communities. Through a comprehensive curriculum that is taught from March to August, students learn about themselves, their potential to have an impact in society, and the abilities necessary to achieve these goals. Students are coached in public speaking, professional writing, proper attire, etiquette, project management, cultural sensitivity, and many other subjects.

During the summer, students are placed at local elected official and community advocacy offices, where they get firsthand experiences in working with these groups and developing their own skillsets. High school students serve a minimum of 100 hours and college students serve a minimum of 160 hours. Throughout the process, the students plan and execute a project that has a tangible impact on a current social issue. Last year, the students wrote a resolution to increase curriculum in public high schools about immigrant contributions throughout history, organized an event that featured speakers from different immigration advocacy organizations, and set up an art exhibition which focused on the immigrant experience.

This program is great for youth who are looking for a way to get involved in their communities and want a deeper understanding of the world around them! By helping them understand their potential as effective leaders, LEAD aims to show youth that they have a voice that can create change. Email Edwin.Tan@aaci.org if you have any inquiries about the program.


2016 – 2017 Class Applications NOW OPENED

LEAD applications for the 2016-2017 class has now been released.

Please contact Director of Development and Advocacy, Edwin Tan at edwin.tan@aaci.org or (408) 975-2730 x 168 with any questions.


LEAD 2016 Graduation (August 20, 2016)


Congratulations to the LEAD graduating class of 2016!

On Saturday, August 20, 2016, students, their families and mentors gathered to celebrate the amazing achievements that LEAD students have accomplished. These past months, our students have learned about social justice issues, creating news briefs to capture current societal events and engaging in thought-provoking discussions. In addition, students have applied the tools they have learned in trainings to their internships with partner offices and organizations. From a variety of projects such as researching and presenting policy proposals to utilizing a knowledge of a second language to aid in translating and interpreting services for community members, students have gained valuable experiences in professional settings. At the graduation, each student was awarded for the completion of ten intensive trainings, 100 internship hours served at a government or community office, and the registration of voters. Our graduating students were reminded of the network of LEAD alumni that is continually growing, and they were encouraged to stay in touch.

Although they have officially graduated from the program and are starting a new school year, our LEAD students will continue to work with each other through their Community Engagement Project on mental health awareness. The students have been working hard developing policy briefs, creating testimonials and researching mental health resources in the Bay Area that will culminate in a parent forum in these upcoming months. Stay tuned for updates on the LEAD 2016 cohort’s Community Engagement Project!


APIA Internship Day at the Capitol (June 21, 2016)

LEAD students on the State Assembly Floor

On June 28, LEAD students visited the State Capitol for a first-hand look at California politics. Students were taken on a tour of a capitol, and participated in a Mock Trial where they debated the merits of AB-1726, the Accounting for Health and Education in API Demographics (AHEAD) Act, proposed by Assemblymember Rob Bonta. LEAD students also had the opportunity to hear from accomplished members of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus such as Assemblymember Phil Ting and Senator Richard Pan. At the end of the trip, students were celebrated for their internship accomplishments by the Office of Senator Jean Fuller. Special thanks to the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus for hosting our LEAD students!


Register to Vote Now! (Deadline to vote in the Primaries – May 23)


Will you 18 years old by the Presidential General Election date?

Did you just move homes and have a new address?

Do you want to change your party affiliation to vote for a specific candidate in the Primary Elections?

Do you remember if you’re registered to vote at all?

SIGN UP TO VOTE TODAY! It will take less than 5 minutes to do!


LEAD 2016 Financial Aid Scholarship


On January 20, 2016 Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI)’s Leaders for Education, Advocacy, and Democracy (LEAD) was awarded $10,000 for LEAD financial aid scholarships from the 50 Fund, the Legacy Fund of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.

LEAD will now be able to provide additional students with scholarships to its LEAD 2016 class. Lead will reopen applications for students who qualify for the financial aid scholarship. Qualification is based on 2015 Health and Human Services Low-Income Guidelines and can be found in the 2016 LEAD Application or at aspe.hhs.gov/2015-poverty-guidelines.

For more information, please contact Ann Marie Tran at annmarie.tran@aaci.org 

Parent Forum: Building Strong Families for Our Students’ Success (November 4, 2015)


On Wednesday, November 4, LEAD partnered with Lynbrook High School to educate parents on how to identify symptoms for critical bouts of stress, anxiety and depression among their children and learn how to provide help in the home. The forum linked parents to resources and services at the school site as well as the community. AACI’s behavioral and mental health specialists discussed proactive measures and communication for parents to incorporate in their engagement with their children to help curb critical issues. In addition, Lynbrook’s Student Advocate provided insight on the campus climate and  developing resources to build support for healthy and engaged students and stronger schools.

LEAD students are providing additional support to their classmates, through their recently launched social media support program, YouMatter2. The program integrates community resources and peer support with technology. Using a positive platform on social media, students empower and uplift peers, providing a trusting space to overcome pressures and stresses,  and remove the stigma from discussing struggles with anxiety and depression. Learn more about the project here.

LEAD Student Profile: Amna Khan


Congratulations to LEAD alum, Amna Khan, on becoming the newest member to the Foothill-De Anza Faculty Association PAC student internship project. Amna is currently a second year Political Science and Economics major at De Anza Community College. She is an exceptional leader, Amna has interned with State Assemblymeber Evan Low and San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra. Committed to advance the needs of community members, Amna participated in city-wide efforts towards bringing more affordable housing projects to San Jose through the implementation of a development impact fee.

We commend you on your compassion and dedication to continue to serve the community, with a deep rooted passion about fighting for issues of access and opportunity that stem from inequality. We support you in your endeavors as you work to create political and social alliances across race, class, and gender to bring about a stronger and more just community. LEAD on!


LEAD 2015 Graduation Ceremony (August 22, 2015)


Congratulations to the LEAD graduating class of 2015!

On Saturday, August 22, LEAD students celebrated their accomplishments and their time together before the new year at their prospective high schools.  This is not the end of the program for them, rather a life-long network of friendship, mentorship and support.  Each student was awarded for the completion of  nine 8-hour Saturday trainings, 100 internship hours served at a government or community office, register around 30 voters each. The students collaboratively are working towards the creation of a peer-support program, #YouMatter2. The project encourages students to support their peers, and provides them with resources to identify and deal with depression and anxiety.

As a part of their learning, students understand that community development and engagement does not end at the end of a summer program, rather, it is an on-going commitment. LEAD students will continue to work on the #YouMatter2 Project. Please stay tuned for updates on this exciting project.


BAAPALS Summer Intern Mixer (July 30, 2015)


On Thursday, July 30th, LEAD students joined local leaders and staffers of elected officials at the Bay Area Asian Pacific American Legislative Staffers (BAAPALS) Intern Mixer in Downtown San Jose. The mixer provided the students with an opportunity to practice the skills they have developed through the LEAD program including networking and public speaking. “The BAAPALS mixer was a fun way to network with professionals and meet fellow interns. It was a great experience getting to learn about the different kinds of work interns were assigned at different levels,” exclaims LEAD 2015 participant, Pratima Manga.

The BAAPALS summer intern mixer is just one of the many opportunities provided to LEAD students to help support their long-term success.


APIA Internship Day at The State Capitol (July 13, 2015)


On Monday, July 13 LEAD students participated in the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Internship Day at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento.

The day started with the 7 am trek to Sacramento on a coach bus. On the drive, students prepped for a mock committee hearing on the bill, AB-967. The bill establishes a uniform procedure for disciplinary measures relating to claims of sexual assault at the governing board of postsecondary institutions.  In Sacramento the students heard from leaders in the API Caucus including Assemblymember David Chiu, and Santa Clara natives, Assemblymembers Kansen Chu and Evan Low. As the day progressed the students were exposed to the diversity of work and roles at the capitol building, such as lobbyists, budget analysts, and education advocates. The wide array of speakers included: Legislative Director for Assemblymember McCarthy, Bryan Singh, Capitol Lobbyist for the API Budget Partnership, Santosh Seeram-Santana and Mandy Lee from Platinum Advisors.  After a long and inspiring day, the students bonded over a team experience and built a camaraderie around civic engagement and social justice.


LEAD Training Guest Speaker, Judge LaDoris H. Cordell (June 20, 2015)

Judge Cordell_Group Photo

On June 20, 2015 Judge LaDoris H. Cordell, the first African American woman to be appointed judgeship in all of Northern California, spoke to LEAD students about her trailblazing work. Judge Cordell has many experiences in leadership, including: Superior Court Judge, Independent Police Auditor for the City of San José, Palo Alto City Councilmember, and artist.  Among her many accomplishments, she has been a leading advocate for the implementation of Police body cameras and has been a pushing force behind the pilot program coming to SJPD. She has moderated televised interviews with MSNBC’s “The Last Word” host, Lawrence O’Donnell, as well as model and reality TV star, Kim Kardashian and the hip hop artist and social justice advocate, Talib Kweli. She has used innovative ways to support the community through contributing to her own artwork to gallery fundraisers for the nonprofit, Legal Advocates for Children & Youth (LACY).

Judge Cordell engaged the LEAD students in conversation around her instrumental efforts that helped reverse California’s three-strikes law, her bouts with racism and overcoming those struggles, and how to engage with police officers as well as reporting on misconduct. Her passion for justice and ongoing leadership left the students of LEAD inspired and in awe. Judge Cordell has repeatedly proven that change is possible when individuals take action against injustice, and has now instilled that confidence in the LEAD cohort.


LEAD featured on NBC’s Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa (November 2, 2014)


AACI’s Advocacy Manager Rabiah Khalid and 2014 LEAD alumnus, Ken Yanigasawa shared the impact and success of the LEAD program on NBC’s Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa on Sunday, November 2. Yanigasawa, a junior in high school discussed how the program taught him critical leadership skills on how to make a valuable impact through civic engagement. As a junior in highschool, Yanagisawa admitted being disengaged in the political process and lacking awareness of issues that are faced by his community and others. Through the program Ken played a crucial role to help develop and implement the “Why I Vote” community engagement project, he was able to share this experience and the efforts of his peers on live television.

This segment about LEAD on NBC’s Asian Pacific America with Robert Handa can be viewed here.


LEAD 2014 Graduation Ceremony (November 7, 2014)


The LEAD Program celebrated the graduation of the 2014 cohort on November 7th, 2014. The event recognized the incredible accomplishments of 26 high school and college students that participated in community organizing, professional development and civic leadership. Reunited with their peers, students reflected on the lifelong lessons they learned from LEAD, looked back on their successes as LEAD interns, and shared what they will carry forward with them in their next journey as LEAD alumni and as aspiring leaders in their communities.


Breakfast with Mentors (October 18, 2014)


On Saturday, October 18, AACI’s LEAD program hosted the first ever “Breakfast with Mentors” at our partner organization, Community Health Partnership. The event drew over 120 youth from local high schools and colleges who exclaimed their desire for additional mentor workshops in the future. The esteemed mentor panel included Senior Google Software Engineer, Mike Chu; Federal Prosecutor with the Department of Justice, Hanley Chew; Attorney with Cooley Godward, Michelle Ton; and Chief Marketing Officer for Metromile, Chuck Seiber. The panelists shared their experiences and provided guidance to the bright-eyed audience as they contemplate how to pursue their passions. The panelists shared the same sentiment as the audience and want to participate in additional events as well as their peers. With great enthusiasm from mentors and mentees, LEAD will be hosting another “Breakfast with Mentors” soon.


Why I Vote Project Day (August 16, 2014)


LEAD students presented their “Why I Vote” campaign on Saturday, August 16 at De Anza Community College. Over 85 individuals including family, community members, and representatives from partner offices attended the event. San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra and the League of Women Voters delivered passionate speeches about the importance of civic participation and voting. Students highlighted portions of the social media campaign and screened PSAs they created to encourage their peers and communities to be more civically engaged.

The social media component of the campaign can be seen at the Facebook page.

For more information on the campaign: LEAD Community Projects 


LEAD Induction Ceremony (May 31, 2014) 


On May 31, 2014 students and parents of the LEAD program were introduced to staff from the partner offices. San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra, and long-term partner office host, gave the key note speech. LEAD Alumni, Cupertino High School student Ishan Sharma presented on the community campaign he led to help raise over $30,000 to help fellow student and best friend’s father who faced a severe injury.

See more: NBC News Article about M&M Campaign


San Jose Project Clean-up Day (April 26, 2014)

clean up project day

Our LEAD students woke up early to team up with the San Jose Project (SJP) to help rejuvenate low-income areas in San Jose. Through the process, students learned about how different communities live and their access to resources.

See more: SJP 2014 Videos

  • LEAD

    Leaders for Education, Advocacy and Democracy (LEAD) is a program of Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan, community-based organization with a mission to advocate for civic engagement, health care access and social justice for the communities we serve.
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta