A group of Latino high school students stands on the steps of the state Capitol and yells out its identity.
"Who are you?" they’re prompted.
"California’s future leaders!" they respond.
They are part of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project. The group brings Latino kids to Sacramento for a week of workshops on academics, self-esteem, culture and state and local issues. This event holds particular significance because it comes soon after a new report that found Latinos are under-represented in elected office and the voting booth.
Arthur Rodriguez is hoping to help change that trend. The 17-year-old is from Morgan Hill, California and he says he’s often the only Latino taking part in school activities.
"A student with false assumptions, constant misconception and low expectation imposed on him even before I would tell them my first name," he says.
Anna Caballero is Secretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. She says Latinos deal with stereotypes every day. But motivating the younger generation is a way to change that.
"Latinos tend not to vote in very large numbers," she says. "And so a big part of this is getting the energy up for Latino youth to understand how important it is to vote and to participate in the public process."
Caballero says it’s imperative to prepare Latino students for leadership roles and help them understand California’s place in the world.
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