Bold Youth Civic Engagement Initiative Reveals Potential of Community College Students

Our latest publication “A NEW LEADERSHIP LEGACY:: Igniting a National Movement for Student Leadership & Engagement at Community Colleges” is out!

Please download by clicking on the icon below.


A Quick Summary:  

The Rappaport Family Foundation supports innovative and promising ways to engage young people, preparing them to be a generation of committed and skilled life-long progressive leaders. We look for unique and untested ways to bring about change. Launched in 2008, on the brink of new social and political movements, the Spark Initiative is our biggest and boldest initiative yet.

The RFF Spark Initiative, focused on community college students, is a groundbreaking experiment in philanthropy that continues to generate impressive results in community college civic engagement. Our report, A New Leadership Legacy, details the results of our experiment – concluding that investing in student leadership development creates social change on key issues for Millennials – educational equity, immigration reform, and environmental protection, among others.

With less than $1 million dollars, the Foundation made 18 grants that invested in untested but promising ideas to engage, inspire and train community college students to be long-lasting leaders. The first three years of this bold project was concentrated in California where community colleges serve nearly 70 percent of undergraduates.

Some of our Grants Include:

  • The Democracy Commitment: Created a national network of community college presidents, faculty, staff, and students who are committed to increasing civic engagement culture and activity on campus. Hundreds of leaders are now on board.
  • New Organizing University: Disseminated an engagement organizing framework and provided curriculum to hundreds of community college students via online courses. Working with Harvard University’s renowned organizer Marshall Ganz, community college students were given a cutting edge blueprint for change.
  • Campaign for College Opportunity: Launched a statewide  program to train community college students to go on to play important roles in California education initiatives.
  • Coleman Advocates for Youth’s Students Making a Change: Supported an exciting partnership between an existing community organization and a city college that has led to the advancement and support of life-long leaders, concrete initiatives to close the achievement gap, and the strengthening of policy advocacy.

Some of the Leaders Supported by our Grantees Include: 

Emily – Key in helping shape statewide community college policy, making it stronger,and more student-centered. She offered the critically important community college student perspective in negotiating policy amendments.

“Because of our activism, my peers and I have ensured that important education legislation includes language that requires student input in implementation and future policy changes that will directly affect students…I have testified at higher Ed Assembly and Senate Budget Committees… I have advocated for my fellow students with my District Board, The Community College League of CA, and with various state-wide leaders.”

Carlos – Shaped education policy on his campus as a newly-elected Student Senate Representative and Student Trustee.

“As an student and the son of a single mother farm worker, I would have never considered the possibility of running for Student Senate as the Student trustee had it not been for my on-campus experiences. The initiatives I took part in showed me my own power as a leader and community representative.”

Veronica – Empowered to share her civic engagement experience with others, Veronica now speaks to young progressives as the most effective recruiter for her program.

“I am 100% determined to work for a social justice organization after graduation. I feel I have found my life purpose and path.”