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Nina Parker: Young Californians Convene for Social Youth Futures Summit

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Youth Futures Summit

On Friday, February 10th more than 350 high school students convened at UC Riverside for the Southern California Youth Futures Summit. Co-hosted by California 100 and the Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside, the Summit brought together state representatives, campus activists, community youth organizations, and young leaders from 17 schools across the Inland Empire including Riverside, Moreno Valley, and San Bernardino. 

Through a series of presentations, creative workshops, and strategic foresight exercises, students spent the day envisioning and brainstorming solutions for their ideal future of California. The visions and dreams generated by young Californians were powerful and declarative, and covered a range of key issues including: 

“We envision a California with NO school shootings.”

“I dream of a California where gender affirming care is accessible to all.”

“We demand a future of California that conserves our natural resources.”

These visions, and the strategies and solutions developed throughout the day, are part of a larger Youth Futures Manifesto that California 100 campus-based fellows and youth partners are developing for presentation to Governor Newsom later this spring at the first-ever statewide Youth Futures Summit in the country.


Keynote speakers

The Southern California Youth Futures Summit featured a notable lineup of speakers who connected with young people about how to achieve their dream California. These leaders also happened to be trailblazers, including Congressman Mark Takano, the first openly gay member of color in the U.S. Congress and Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes and Assemblymember Corey Jackson, the first Latina lesbian and Black gay members, respectively, elected to the California state legislature.

Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes spoke about her experience being openly LGBTQ and Latina in the California Assembly. She touched on the importance of staying true to your background and your community. 

“If you truly want to be the change, you have to find it within yourself to take that leap of faith to step into that next stage in your life.”
– Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes

Assemblymember Corey Jackson addressed the importance of surrounding yourself with positive peers, and connecting with those who seem very different from you. He highlighted the importance of building relationships with a broad coalition of people in order to create a powerful community in which you can create change.

“In my junior year in high school, I was raised by a village… teachers in high school that I still talk to today took me under their wings and told me that I could do more than just play sports.”
– Assemblymember Corey Jackson

Following lunch, Congressman Mark Takano spoke about the critical moments that inspired his public service — including watching Rep. Barbara Jordan during the Nixon impeachment process and his family’s experience in an internment camp during WWII —  and his path to the House of Representatives. 
“You are on the front lines of saving our democracy… and reanimating and repurposing our institutions.” – Congressman Mark Takano

Finally, Genna Weinstein, a California 100 Futures Fellow and UC Davis student, shared insights about drafting a youth manifesto for the future, finding confidence to pursue your goals, and the power young Californians have to make change at the state level. 

“My teacher in middle school used to say that the word impossible actually spells out ‘I’m possible’… it’s OK to be stumped. Creating solutions to problems like housing and health care can seem like an impossible task, but remember: you’re all possible.” – Futures Fellow Genna Weinstein (UC Davis)

“When I was in high school, and even now, I knew I wanted to change the world. I just didn’t know how. How would it be possible for me to do anything that would make a difference? The answer lies in taking small steps towards a larger solution.” – Futures Fellow Genna Weinstein (UC Davis)


Summit Workshops

The afternoon included two sessions of workshops, with students participating in a solutions-oriented brainstorm across 6 key topic areas:

  • Education, Workforce, & the Creative Economy 
  • Climate Change & Environment 
  • Health, Mental Health, & Wellbeing
  • Civic Engagement & Empowerment
  • Community Safety & Justice Reform
  • Humane Housing & Reliable Transportation


Students worked together to come up with solutions that relate to each topic. Some powerful ideas students generated; “more nonprofits for legal guidance”, “universal free feminine hygiene products”, “more inclusive history classes”. As part of the broader Youth Futures work this spring, students also wrote postcards to Governor Gavin Newsom outlining their demands and dreams for the Future of California. 

Throughout the afternoon, students also participated in a wide range of workshops, including: The Future is Now, Financial Aid and Finding Resources, STEM and Social Justice, Voter Rights for Youth, and Labor Rights in the IE.


Youth Partners

Alongside the Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside, California 100 was pleased to be in community with strong youth partners from throughout southern California including: 

BLU Foundation
California State University of San Bernardino, College CorpsCivil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California 
Congregations for Prophetic Engagement (COPE)
Growing Inland Achievement
Moreno Valley Community College, TRIO Program
Moreno Valley Unified School District
National Society of Black Engineers, UCR Chapter
Riverside Unified School District
San Bernardino Unified School District
UCLA California Freedom Summer Initiative
UCR Black Faculty and Staff Association
UCR Gluck Fellows 
UCR Student Life
Youth Mentoring Action Network (YMAN)


High Schools in the area who were represented at the event;

Riverside Unified School District
Martin Luther King High School
Poly High School
Ramona High School
Riverside High School
STEM High School
Moreno Valley Unified School District

Canyon Springs High School
Moreno Valley High School
Vista Del Lago High School
Bridges Learning Center
March Mountain High School
Middle College High School
Moreno Valley Adult School
San Bernardino Unified School District

Middle College High School
San Bernardino High School
Virtual Academy
Indian Springs High School
San Gorgonio High School


California100 Youth Futures Summit

The Southern California Youth Futures Summit is part of the leadup to California 100’s Youth Futures Summit in Sacramento, set to take place on Sunday, March 12, 2023 on the West Lawn of the Capitol. Join hundreds of student leaders and activists from across the state for a day of participatory action, celebration and youth-led visioning for the future of California. The Youth Futures Summit is FREE to attend, and open to all young Californians (and their allies and champions).