CAN DO - Change Agent Network for Dismantling Oppression


CAN DO! is the year round follow-up and networking program for Just Communities' CommUnity Leadership Institute (CLI) and Talking in Class graduates and any youth interested in social justice in the Central Coast. The program is completely youth-run and youth-led.


The goals of CAN DO! are to support youth in creating real and meaningful change for social justice through their ideas and visions; to increase the education and awareness of graduates and their peers; and to prepare members to become effective youth leaders and facilitators in their schools, community, and other Just Communities programs.


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CAN DO! Organizing Team

The CAN DO! Organizing Team is composed of 20-25 CLI and Talking in Class graduates ages 15-19 from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Being part of the Organizing Team is a unique opportunity to work with a diverse group of young people committed to social justice as you build your own organizing, leadership, and social skills.

Organizing Team Responsibilities:

  • Creating welcoming and safe spaces for CAN DO! events

  • Facilitating CAN DO! Sessions & Regional meetings

  • Representing CAN DO! in school and community events

  • Supporting members in organizing and action plans


Being on the CAN DO! Organizing Team is a 12-15 hour a month commitment until June 2018.

Up to 200 community service hours available based on school policy.

CAN DO! Sessions


Held from 3:00am to 4:00pm twice a month in different regions of the Central Coast to bring the entire network together for workshops, training, and organizing.

CAN DO Sessions for the Fall:

  • TBD

CAN DO! Regional Meetings


These are spaces where youth can meet in their own region in Ventura County, Santa Barbara, Goleta, and North County in Santa Maria between CAN DO sessions to connect, build community, and work on action plans.

  • Santa Maria: tbd

  • Santa Barbara: tbd

  • Ventura:tbd 



CAN DO! Was launched in the fall of 2001 and has grown from working with a small group of 4-5 students per year in the early years to several hundred youth each year. Since its inception, CAN DO! has supported Central Coast youth in accomplishing things such as:

  • Successfully advocated for Gender Neutral bathrooms at Dos Pueblos high school which became the first high school in Santa Barbara County to have gender neutral bathrooms. This success led to gender neutral bathrooms in all SBUSD schools (K-12).

  • Successfully advocated for all SBUSD coaches, PE teachers and health teachers to receive training on sexual orientation, gender identity and how to make athletic spaces and health curricula more LGBTQ inclusive. The training then led to SBUSD engaging in a process to adopt new health curriculum at the secondary level.

  • SBUSD adopts new criteria for granting students access to honors, AP and International Baccalaureate courses.

  • SBUSD adopts a new test to identify GATE (Gifted and Talented students) at the elementary level. (Just Communities)

  • Working as part of Ethnic Studies Now! Santa Barbara to successfully advocate for the SBUSD Graduation Requirement Committee to recommend to the School Board that Ethnic Studies become a high school graduation requirement. The Board voted on November 13th, 2019 to implement Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement for all Santa Barbara Unified School District students (Ethnic Studies Now! Santa Barbara was started and led by a Just Communities CLI graduate and saw significant student leadership from CLI & Talking in Class graduates.)

  • SBUSD develops a new process for reclassifying English Learners to English Proficient. Is now reclassifying students at much greater levels and these reclassified students are outperforming Native English Speakers on a range of academic indicators.

  • Starting 9 Diversity & Social Justice clubs at Santa Barbara High School, San Marcos High, Dos Pueblos High, Nordhoff High School, Paso Robles High School, Westmont College, and a community-wide group in Santa Maria.

  • Increased the number of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in Santa Barbara County from 1 before we opened our office (2001) to 14 as of May 2011.  Schools include: Santa Barbara High, San Marcos High, Dos Pueblos High, La Cuesta Alternative High School, Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, Santa Ynez High School, Righetti High School, Santa Maria High School, Pioneer High School, Paso Robles High School, Fillmore High School, Carpinteria High School, Ventura High School and more;

  • Started the Don Riders Club at Santa Barbara High School to create an alternative for youth typically drawn to gangs;

  • Launched the South County and North County PUEBLO Youth Committees which bring a youth voice into organizing efforts for working and immigrant families;

  • Held a School Forum on the root causes of Gang & Youth Violence for over 400 students at San Marcos High School;

  • Raised funds to help first generation college students buy textbooks and prepare for state and national testing;    

  • Provided social justice and diversity training to their peers in school and in the community;

  • Coordinated educational campaigns for youth and families on issues of sexual violence;

  • Organized for immigrant rights and marriage equity;

  • Raised funds to purchase wheelchairs for students with disabilities;

  • Served on local nonprofit Boards of Directors, such as Just Communities, Future Leaders of America, the Fund for Santa Barbara’s Grant-Making Committee, the City of Santa Barbara Youth Council.

  • Convincing the school boards of Oxnard School District and Fillmore Unified School District to unanimously pass resolutions prohibiting derogatory terms used by Latinos against indigenous Mexicans. The districts denounced the terms “Oaxaquita,” which translates to “little Oaxacan,” and “indito,” or “little Indian” referring to the indigenous people from Mexico’s Oaxaca state.  See article in ColorLines Magazine’s online edition:

  • Started a weekly Farmer’s Market and bi-weekly Food Distribution Center in Fillmore, CA that has been in operation since September, 2010 to ensure healthy and fresh options for Fillmore and Piru families.

  • Developed recommendations for improved transportation policy and infrastructure which have been adopted into the new master transportation plan for Ventura County.

CAN DO! Accomplishments 2001-Currently

For more information about CAN-DO! please contact René García Hernández: or 805-966-2063


1528 Chapala St. Suite 308  Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Phone (805) 966 - 2063

Fax (805) 246 -1566

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