*formerly known as the Youth CAN Program

Kizuna's Leadership Program is our premier high school leadership, community service, and personal development program. We promise to create a transformative experience that will help to shape the next generation.



Occurring each summer, Kizuna's Leadership Program is a 10 week, Wednesday evening program designed to build well-rounded students and enhance their future success.

Our model of success is centered around concepts of identity and community. The networks, relationships and strong sense of self-identity help our students to rise above the rest.

Over the last decade, our program has become the largest Japanese American leadership development program in Southern California.

Program Details


  • Union Church of Los Angeles
  • 401 E. 3rd St.
  • Los Angeles, CA 90013

Session Dates

Session 1: June 17, 2020
Session 2: June 24, 2020
Session 3: July 1, 2020
Session 4: July 8, 2020
Session 5: July 15, 2020
Retreat: July 17-July 18, 2020*
Session 6: July 22, 2020
Session 7: July 29, 2020
Session 8: August 5, 2020
Session 9: August 12, 2020
Culmination: August 15, 2020**

Sessions take place on Wednesday evenings, 6:00 to 9:30pm.

*Please note: We will host an overnight retreat starting Friday 7/12 in the evening, through the afternoon on 7/13. Please mark your calendar for this important weekend event!

**This year's Culmination will be on a Saturday at Union Church. The time will be emailed to Leadership participants and parents.


  • $210 per student
  • -Fee reductions available upon request
  • -No refunds: fees will not be returned after received



Multi-Track Program

Track 1

Track 1 is the introductory track to our Leadership Program.  This track is for students who have not completed any Leadership programs in the past.

The goal of Track 1 is to get students familiar with the rich culture and history that thrives in Little Tokyo. Introducing them to basic concepts of Little Tokyo community and identity, students will have a better grasp of the the foundation of Little Tokyo, and their place in it.

Track 2

Students in Track 2 must have previously completed a Kizuna program (Leadership or otherwise).

Track 2 dives deeper into concepts of culture and how it contributes to their sense of identity.  Students will learn about what comprises Little Tokyo community, how it has developed over the years, and things they can do to advocate for their community’s needs.

track 3

Track 3 provides students with the foundational skills and confidence to be better leaders.

Students will learn about the different traits and qualities that leaders possess, and why these skills are important in activism. Students will then apply these newly learned skills to develop a project that provide direct action to support the Little Tokyo community.

Track 4

Track 4 participants will use all their Little Tokyo knowledge and leadership skills gained from previous tracks to begin making their mark on community.

Through giving their own Little Tokyo tours, working with other communities, and mentoring younger students, Track 4 will prepare participants for college and beyond.

Successful Students

Ranging from college bound, to career focuses individuals, Kizuna has a track record of successful students who have graduated from the program.

Program Highlights

In Our 11th Year

This will be the 11th year of our Leadership Program. Over the years we have perfected our formula and created a program that is both engaging and transformative for our students.

Many Students

Throughout the years, over 300 students have been trained through our Leadership Program. Joining our program is joining the next generation of community leaders.

Leadership Development

We develop valuable leadership skills including public speaking and peer-to-peer communication. Service projects also provide practical opportunities for students to exercise these skills.

Rising Above

Our students rise above. Skills and leadership learned through the program gives our students an edge as they look to their futures. Our students cite this program as a core component which has helped them develop as adults.

*Icons designed by Popcorns Arts from Flaticon"


Many students who have gone through our program and are now young adults have returned as facilitators and instructors. They believe in passing on the knowledge they learned to the next cohort of students. Making the experience at Leadership a unique and inspirational program.

As a former participant of the Leadership program, I can attest to the incredible impact it provides for high school students. It enabled me to take pride in my unique identity as a Japanese American and empowered me to find my role as a leader in the community. Now, as co-director of the Track 1 cohort, I am able to share these same values with the next generation of young leaders. I return every summer because I am truly inspired by the growth and personal development each of our students go through, as well as the lasting relationships and memories we create together.

- Megan Ono, Kizuna Board Member, Past Director, Counselor, & Participant

Kizuna has given me this wonderful opportunity to explore my future career as a high school teacher by being able to teach Japanese American high school students in Track 1, the importance of their culture, community and identity. Every year, I learn more and more about myself along with the students and it is truly a priceless experience!

- Marisa Katsuda, Director, Counselor & Past Participant

Leadership was a fulfilling and invaluable experience for me in high school. It allowed me to direct my passion for learning about the ways in which I fit into the Japanese American community and how to apply it to hands on volunteering in Little Tokyo. Not only did I build a great network in Little Tokyo, but I was also able to see the larger scale of the Japanese American community and the potential of the next generation of Japanese Americans.

- Griffin Yamada, Counselor, Past Participant

Incredible Learning

Our Leadership Program has been cited as the only program in our community covering the topics that we do. The personal growth our students gain through our program is incredible.

Have More Questions?

No problem! Just click the little help button on the bottom right of the screen to view our frequently asked questions or just ask us a question directly. We'll get back to you real quick.

Leadership is the Best

Leadership is one of the best programs has Kizuna has to offer. When we say that it's a transformative experience, we mean it. Our students grow and develop as leaders, community advocates, and good people. Join us and see for yourself!