Since its founding in 1988, LEAD California (formerly known as California Campus Compact) has worked to build the collective commitment and capacity of colleges, universities and communities throughout California to advance civic and community engagement for a healthy, just and democratic society. Through innovative programs and initiatives, grant funding, training and technical assistance, professional development and powerful research studies and publications, LEAD California each year invests in and champions more than 500,000 students, faculty members, administrators and community members involved in diverse and ground-breaking activities that support and expand civic and community engagement throughout California.

As the only coalition that brings together the diverse collection of California colleges and universities together around a common commitment to higher education’s civic purposes, LEAD California is a powerful ally in making the case for civic engagement, public service and student involvement in campus-community partnerships – and for sustaining the momentum for higher education’s public service role in California.


LEAD California began as California Campus Compact and was a part of the national Campus Compact network. After 34 years in the network, California Campus Compact elected to leave the national organization and relaunched as LEAD California on February 22, 2022. Still, our history is deeply tied to Campus Compact and thus, we are including that history here.

In the mid-1980s, a group of higher education leaders came together based on a shared concern about the future of American democracy.  Motivated by their conviction that amid the pressures toward personal acquisition and personal advancement, their students were not learning to think, speak, and act in the service of the public good, they resolved that higher education must reclaim its historic mission of preparing the next generation of citizens to achieve public goals and solve public problems.

This group – a handful at first, and more than 100 within a year – decided to take action.  They became the founders of Campus Compact. Their chosen language – a compact – signified a commitment to each other to work together to advance the public purposes of higher education on their campuses and in their communities.  It also signified a commitment to honor the longstanding compact between higher education and the public good. Today, there are approximately 700 colleges in the Campus Compact network.

In 1988, California Campus Compact was created to provide member campuses with local, state and regional support. Charles Young, who was then Chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Donald Kennedy, who was then president of Stanford University, led the group that founded California Campus Compact based on California-specific higher education goals. California Campus Compact grew from 17 member campuses at its inception to over 45 campuses in recent years. In 2014, California Campus Compact became an independent non-profit organization in California and will continue as such as LEAD California.


From its founding in 1988 through 1995, California Campus Compact was hosted at UCLA by then-Chancellor Charles Young. In 1996, with the retirement of Chancellor Young, the Executive Board of California Campus Compact approved a change in host institutions from UCLA to San Francisco State University. San Francisco State University, under the leadership of President Robert A. Corrigan, continued as the host institution for California Campus Compact until his retirement. In 2013, CACC was hosted by Sofia University, and then in January 2014, moved to California State University, East Bay, under then-President Leroy Morishita. In July 2022 LEAD California (formerly California Campus Compact) was housed for one transitional year at Cal State LA under then-President William Covino. As of July 2023, LEAD California is hosted by Fresno State, under President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval.

“At California State University, East Bay, we take pride in our commitment to serve students first, by expanding access and enhancing each student’s educational experience and prospects for success as a graduate and life-long learner. That is why we are proud to not only be a member of the California Campus Compact (CACC), but to also host the organization on our campus. The university hosting CACC creates a synergy between Cal State East Bay’s commitment to enrich student engagement and learning with CACC’s rich history of leadership in supporting state, regional and national civic engagement in higher education.”

Leroy M. Morishita, Former President
California State University, East Bay


Between 1988 and 2000, there were six executive directors of California Campus Compact. In September 2000, Dr. Elaine Ikeda was hired as the seventh executive director of California Campus Compact. She continues to hold the position and is the longest-serving executive director of California Campus Compact, now LEAD California.

From 1996 through March 2004, San Francisco State University President Robert A. Corrigan served as the chair of the Executive Board of California Campus Compact. From April 2004 through June 2010, California State University, Channel Islands President Richard R. Rush served as chair of the Executive Board of California Campus Compact. From July 2010-2015, University of San Francisco President Stephen A. Privett. S.J., served as chair. From July 2015-June 2020, California State University, East Bay President Leroy Morishita served as chair. From July 2020 to December 2021, San Jose State University President Mary Papazian served as chair. President Jim Harris, University of San Diego is currently serving as chair of the Board.


Membership in California Campus Compact, now LEAD California, grew from 17 institutions in 1988 to over 45 institutions today.  Membership dues are based on the full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate enrollment of the member institution. Please see our Membership Section for more information.


Since the beginning, LEAD California has developed hundreds of programs and initiatives, research studies and publications, and has provided grant funding, training and technical assistance, and professional development to thousands of individuals on its member campuses.

Current programs include our Community Engagement Student Fellows (CESF) program in which students receive $500 scholarships for 50 hours of direct service or infrastructure support; our year-long Resilient Community of Practice that meets monthly to support Community Engagement Professionals who are newly leading campus centers; The Dissertation Dish – a bi-monthly webinar highlighting the latest dissertation research, in collaboration with the International Association of Research on  Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE); and a variety of webinars and monthly partner meetings addressing various community engagement issues and strategies.

In addition, LEAD California has published several research studies and resource publications, including The Engaged Faculty Institute Curriculum, a resource designed in collaboration with Campus Compact of the Mountain West and Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, focused on intensive faculty development specific to service-learning course design or re-design, including units focused on cultural competence, partnership development, sustainability and institutionalization of engagement, in addition to units on course design and assessment; and 25 Years of Educating Students to Change our World, a report which includes the inspirational remarks made by Goodwin Liu, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court at our 25th Anniversary Celebration in November 2013 as well as essays by our member presidents highlighting vivid examples of how, because of their membership in LEAD California, are educating students to change our world.

LEAD California offers the Richard E. Cone Award for Emerging Leaders in Community Engagement, recognizing exemplary early-career individuals who are emerging leaders in the field of community engagement and whose work has had a positive impact on campus and in the community.   

Over the past 34 years, LEAD California has distributed millions of dollars in grants to member campuses, supporting new programming, training and professional development for hundreds of thousands of students, faculty members, administrators and community members who work toward expanding the common good throughout California.