The CAUSE Leadership Academy (CLA), is a nine-week paid summer internship program for students interested in politics, public policy, and/or Asian Pacific Americans (APA) community issues.


Classes of interns

Join a network of 25 years of intern classes. Graduates of our program go on to run for office themselves and become leaders in politics, business, and nonprofits.

Full-Time 9 Week Internship

Each intern commits to and receives a full-time internship experience (minimum 40 hours per week) from June 19, 2017 – August 18, 2017. Additional hours to work on a group project will also be required.


Each intern receives a $1,500 stipend upon satisfactory completion of the program. the stipend will serve as reimbursement for expenses accrued throughout the program’s duration.


CLA, which was formerly the California Asian American Student Internship Coalition (CASIC), was founded in 1991 in order to develop a pipeline of leadership for the APA community. Despite APAs being the fastest growing community in the United States, representation and leadership has not kept pace with the growing and changing demographics.

CLA teaches students the importance of civic engagement and political participation as it prepares its participants to be leaders at the forefront of the democratic process. Through exposure to decision- makers, policy makers, and the issues of the day, students gain a deeper awareness of the political issues facing the APA community in California. Graduates of this program have gone on to run for political office and have even become leaders in politics, business, and nonprofits.

The CLA program offers opportunities for students to gain firsthand experience in politics through constituent services, community organizing, community relations, legislative research, etc. Program participants intern at the district offices of various elected officials at the local, state, and federal level in Southern California.

Program Components

Civic Leadership Workshops

Every Monday, interns will participate in civic leadership workshops to develop a greater understanding of the APA community’s historical experience, strengthen knowledge of relevant political issues, and enhance key professional/ leadership skills. Past notable workshop speakers include California State Treasurer John Chiang, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and Los Angeles City Councilmember David E. Ryu to name a few.

Political Internship Experience

Every Tuesday – Friday, interns will work at their own internship placements.  Each intern is placed in a legislative or public offices to work with legislators and/or high-ranking public officials within Southern California. Interns will gain firsthand political experience and learn more about the United States democratic process.

Voter Engagement Project

As a cohort, interns will work together to complete a voter engagement project focused on increasing civic engagement for APAs through voter education and outreach. Through the project, interns learn the importance of community organizing as well as the work that goes into it.

APA Internship Conference

Students will participate in an annual conference at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. The conference includes interactive mock committee hearings, top-notch speaker panels, and opportunities to meet privately w it h top legislators, staffers, and lobbyists within CAUSE’s network. Past notable speakers include CA State Assemblymember Ed Chau, CA State Assemblymember Young Kim, and California Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil.

Important Dates & Deadlines

Event Date
Application Opens Friday, October 14, 2016
Application Closes Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Candidate Interviews Saturday, February 18, 2017
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Orientation Week Monday, June 19, 2017 – Thursday, June 22, 2017
Kickoff Press Conference Friday, June 23, 2017
Annual Capitol APA Internship Conference Monday, July 10, 2017 – Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Graduation Friday, August 18, 2017

Meet the Interns


Haeeun Blessing Jee 지혜은

Rising Junior at Harvard College

Intern with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development


Edwin Saucedo

Rising Senior at University of Southern California (USC)

Intern with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development


Zenni Duong

Recent Graduate of the University of California, Davis (UCD)

Intern at the Office of US Congressmember Judy Chu


Kevin Hsu 徐振哲

Rising Sophomore at Claremont McKenna College

Intern at the Office of California State Treasurer John Chiang


Sabina Li 李家怡

Rising Junior at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Intern at the Office of California State Controller Betty Yee


Jess Xinyi Liu 劉心儀

Rising Junior at the University of Michigan

Intern at the Office of US Congressmember Adam Schiff


Eric Phung 馮俊文

Rising Senior at Yale University

Intern at the Office of California State Assemblymember Ed Chau


Phoebe Shen 沈思妮

Rising Senior at Scripps College

Intern at the Office of California State Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez


Joanna Tien 田樂

Rising Junior at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Intern at the Office of US Congressmember Grace Napolitano


Xuan Le Tong

Rising Junior at University of California, Riverside (UCR)

Intern at the Office of Los Angeles Unified School District Boardmember Scott M. Schmerelson


Erika Zheng  鄭雅楠

Incoming Freshman at University of California, Berkeley

Intern at the Office of Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti

Alumni Spotlight

  • "Through the Leadership Academy and all its wonderful opportunities--from our legislative internship placement, to our weekly forums with respected civic leaders, to our legislative conference in Sacramento, and our group project, my passion for politics only continued to blossom."

    Kristie Sham Student at UC Berkeley, CLA Class of 2015
  • "I witnessed how great leaders work tirelessly together in order to find solutions that ultimately benefit society at large. This is something that I take away with me as I lead my student body at USC."

    Edwin Saucedo USC Student Body President, CLA Class of 2014 & 2016


The Leadership Academy is a transformative experience for each and every single one of our interns.

 This program is generously supported by:


 JT Tai & Company Foundation 

Mr. Nelson Tan