EPIC's Summer Youth Employment Program

Established in 1966 by Associated Students, Inc., and the Division of Student Affairs, the Educational Participation in Communities (EPIC) program was created in the wake of the Watts Rebellion of 1965 to help address critical community needs by placing student volunteers in local nonprofit organizations. One of the oldest such programs in the California State University system, EPIC has long been in the forefront for more than 45 years, developing community partnerships, coordinating the University’s community involvement activities, and connecting hundreds of students annually to community-based organizations where students develop leadership and commitment to service. Passionate and dedicated students are the heart of the EPIC program and have always been the foundation of EPIC’s work in the community.

Our mission is to promote community service learning by creating opportunities for university students to implement classroom theory in real life situations. Through community service, EPIC inspires and enables university students to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens by volunteering in a wide range of agencies serving a broad spectrum of communities throughout the Los Angeles area. With the support of the administration, staff, and community partners, students are the keystone of the program and the basis for its continued success in serving the community.

Community Service Learning
Service learning provides students with meaningful experiences outside the classroom and in the community that are designed to enhance their understanding of knowledge and theories shared in the classroom. The EPIC program collaborates with the Office of Service Learning to support students, faculty, and community partners with the implementation of service learning by providing support in the following ways:   

  • Connecting faculty with community organizations whose missions align with service learning course outcomes;
  • Working with community partners to plan for the service commitment carried out by the students;
  • Conducting classroom presentations to provide students with service learning guidelines and agency information;
  • Assisting students with the placement process and monitoring their service progress;  and
  • Collecting data on student service and its effect on the community


America Reads and CountsAmerica Reads and America Counts Program
The America Reads and America Counts program at Cal State Los Angeles is part of a national campaign that aims to develop children’s reading and math skills through tutoring. Since 1999, full-time Cal State L.A. students provide a weekly average of 10 hours of one-on-one support to inner-city elementary schools in Los Angeles. The program has sustained partnerships with Ann Street Elementary, Anton Elementary, Huntington Elementary, Kennedy Elementary, and will expand to serve Humphreys Elementary this year.


Read Across AmericaRead Across America
Read Across America is an annual event that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. Volunteers from Cal State Los Angeles team up to coordinate Seuss-themed presentations at Los Angeles Unified School District elementary sites to connect literacy with student success and higher education.



Cal State L.A. Here We ComeCal State L.A., Here We Come!
Every spring, an estimated 450 LAUSD elementary school children visit campus as part of “Cal State L.A., Here We Come!” The program introduces children to the possibilities of higher education and helps them understand the role higher education can play in achieving their dreams. The children interact with college role models while engaging in hands-on science, engineering, physics, athletic, social science,  and art presentations that are planned by faculty, upperclassmen, student clubs and organizations, and service learning students.


Summer Youth Employment Program
The Summer Youth Employment Program at Cal State L.A. currently partners with Para Los Niños to provide meaningful, paid job experience for low-income youths while also exposing them to the possibilities and benefits of a university education.

Funded by the City of Los Angeles, the 38-year-old program places 90-100 youths in University departments and offices to work alongside professional full-time staff supervisors for four weeks. These young people receive on-the-job training to develop specific skills in their interests, as well as weekly sessions on topics such as college admissions, financial aid, and student support programs like the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) and the First Year Experience.

Toy and Food Drive
The annual Toy and Food Drive has been coordinated by the EPIC program for 38 years. Students, staff, and faculty collect toys and food for more than 120 low-income families who are being served by 25 community partners in the Asian, African-American, Latino, and Native-American communities.  With the exceptional support of student clubs and organizations, EPIC donated 1,814 toys and 2,656 nonperishable food items during the 2013 drive.