Tulare County's Step Up #LEAD Program has been recognized as a Merit Award recipient of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) 2014 Challenge Awards, which recognize the most innovative and cost-effective programs developed by California's 58 counties. These awards identify and applaud the progressive ways California county governments provide programs and services to their citizens. 

The goal of the Step Up #LEAD (Leading, Educating, Advocating and Dedication) leadership and mentoring program is to inspire and empower high school students to make a difference in their community, foster civic engagement, learn the skills to mentor younger students and better position them for life outside of K-12 education.

"The CSAC Challenge Awards program exemplifies the very best of county government." CSAC Executive Director Matt Cate said. "The programs highlighted each year demonstrate how California's 58 counties are striving to continuously serve their constituents more efficiently and cost-effectively. Innovation is alive and well in California Counties."

CSET (Community Service Education and Training) provides curriculum as well as instructors to hold sessions meant to engage youth on subjects ranging from listening barriers, stress management and financial literacy to mentorship principles, college and employment preparedness and "identifying your passion".  College of the Sequoias provides the session space on their campus at no charge, including free parking for all participants.  Visalia Unified School District allows for the active recruitment of students from their district to be a part of the program and both Tulare County Probation and Tulare County Health and Human Services departments use their networks to connect with youth who could potentially benefit by being a part of #LEAD. 

"We are extremely excited that the work done by the County's Step Up #LEAD Program is being recognized by CSAC as one of the best County programs in the state," said Phil Cox, Chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. "Tulare County is actively seeking to provide positive experiences for our youth and the Step Up #LEAD Program plays an important role in accomplishing that goal." 

Overall, a total of 41 programs from 18 counties will receive one of the three levels of awards: Innovation, Challenge and Merit. Beyond Tulare County, other counties to be honored with Merit Awards include: Merced, Placer and San Luis Obispo. 

For a complete list of award-winning programs and for more information on the CSAC Challenge Awards, visit