The CAUSE Leadership Academy (CLA), is a nine-week paid internship program for college undergraduates that prepares the next generation to lead and represent the Asian Pacific American (APA) community.

Founded in 1991 as the California Asian American Student Internship Coalition (CASIC), CLA’s goal is to develop a pipeline of civic leadership for the APA community. As the fastest growing community in the United States, it is key that representation and leadership in the public, private, and non-profit sectors keep pace with our country’s changing demographics.

Through CLA, students are exposed to thought leaders, policymakers, and the issues of the day. Interns gain a deeper awareness of the civic issues facing the APA community in California. By the program’s end, students will have an understanding of how to engage in the politics of the day to affect the change they want to see in the world. Graduates of this program have gone on to run for political office and become leaders in politics, business, and nonprofits.

icon speaker red

26 Classes of Interns

Join a network of 26 years of intern classes. Graduates of this program have gone on to run for political office and become leaders in politics, business, and nonprofits.

icon calendar red

Full-Time 9-week Internship

Each intern commits to and receives a full-time internship experience (minimum 40 hours per week) from June 17, 2019 – August 16, 2019. Additional hours to work on a group project will also be required.

icon heartstar red


Each intern receives a $2,000 stipend upon satisfactory completion of the program to serve as reimbursement for expenses accrued throughout the program’s duration. Limited additional support is made available on a case-by-case basis.

Program Components

Monday: Civic Leadership Workshops

Tuesday – Thursday: Internship Placement

Friday: Networking Meetings

icon whitehouse red

Internship Experience

Participants are placed in an office in one of three tracks of internship placements in the public, private, or non-profit sectors to work with community and civic leaders of Southern California. Students gain firsthand political experience and learn more about the civic process. CLA participants work closely with professionals in their office to build strong community relations, and they may be given other responsibilities and projects that help shape current day policies.

icon team red

Civic Leadership Workshops

Interns will participate in civic leadership workshops to develop a greater understanding of the APA community’s historical experience and insight into current political issues. The civic leadership workshops also help students develop key professional and leadership skills needed for future community leadership. Workshops are hosted at local organizations so that students can better connect with the community. Speakers include elected officials, political consultants and lobbyists, and corporate and non-profit leaders.

icon vote red

Civic engagement Project

Each intern cohort develops a civic based project to empower the larger APA community. Students learn the importance of and develop greater experience with community organizing. Students gain professional experience in achieving their project goals with guidance from CAUSE staff. Project results are presented to the CAUSE Board of Directors, community members, media, and the general public. Students learn the importance of community organizing as well as the work that goes into it.

icon capitol red

Annual Capitol Summit

Students participate in an annual summit at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. During this two-day overnight trip, students meet with top legislators, staffers, and lobbyists within CAUSE’s network to better understand the political process and their role in it.

Important Dates & Deadlines


Application Opens

Application Closes

Candidate Interviews

Orientation Week

Kickoff Press Conference

Annual Capitol Summit



Tuesday, October 5, 2019

Thursday, February 28, 2019, 11:59PM PST

Skype: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – Friday, March 15, 2019
In-Person: Saturday, March 16, 2019

Monday, June 17, 2019 – Thursday, June 20, 2019

Friday, June 21, 2019

Monday, July 8, 2019 – Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Friday, August 16, 2019

What Alumni Say

cla hesu.png
“As someone who felt lost between being Asian and American, my time at CAUSE was an eye-opening experience that helped me discover my identity and how I fit into the APA community.”
— Hesu Song, Sophomore at Johns Hopkins University, Interned at the Office of Congressmember Jimmy Gomez, Leadership Academy Class of 2018

the experience

The 2019 Leadership Academy is Supported by