Start a CAHSD Chapter

Guide to Launching a Chapter of the California High School Democrats

Local chapters, located within individual high schools and communities across the country, make up the pulse of the High School Democrats of America as a whole. Members on the local level work on campaigns, hold fundraisers, and even run for office themselves in order to improve their communities and turn their districts blue.

Establishing a Local CAHSD Chapter

In order to have a High School Democrats chapter or club at your high school or in your community, you must first complete a simple process that will ensure success for your organization. First, you must determine the type of chapter you wish to create, either a school-based chapter or a community-based chapter.

Launching a School-Based Chapter

You’ll need a teacher or administrator to serve as an adviser, a mission, and as many interested students as possible.

Step 1: Find other students interested in starting a local chapter. We strongly recommend at least 3.

Step 2: Find a teacher or administrator who will serve as your adviser. Discuss your ideas/plans with them.

Step 3: Talk to your administrators and/or principals. Have either yourself or your adviser ensure that your chapter follows your school’s rules on clubs and extracurricular activities.

Step 4: Hold your first meeting. A good time is before or after school, or even during lunch! need to hold Officer Elections at one of your first meetings.

Step 5: Register your chapter online here and make sure all of your members fill out this form.

Club approval processes differ by school, so you may run into problems with your school administration. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Regional Director (find them on the Our Leadership page) or any other member of the Executive Board. A copy of the Equal Access Act (Section 4071) is accessible here.

Launching a Community-Based Chapter

This option is more likely to be used in the event that you fail to secure administrative approval for a school-based chapter, or are located in an area with a lower number of interested individuals.

Step 1: Find other students interested in starting a local chapter. We strongly recommend at least 3.

Step 2: Find a community member who will serve as your adviser. Discuss your ideas/plans with them.

Step 3: Choose a location fo have weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with the help of your adviser. Coffee shops, bookstores, parks, and homes work well; remember that all locations should be handicap accessible and prepare for the needs of your members.

Step 4: Hold your first meeting. We recommend meetings to take place on afternoons or during the weekend Remember that you will need to hold Officer Elections at one of your first meetings.

Step 5: Register your chapter online here and make sure all of your members fill out this form.

Holding Your First Meeting

Your first meeting is by far the most important, as you will be giving your members and the rest of your school a first impression of your local chapter. The first meeting should be very upbeat, positive, organized, and most of all, fun. It is important that everyone feels included and welcome, and that they each find some importance in being involved.

Here are some tips for your first meeting:

  • Start the meeting on time. This lets your members know that you are serious about the club, and expect to be productive and efficient in our search for your goals.
  • Try collecting contact information from your members. This is to get your new members’ contact information, and to be able to contact them about future meetings.
  • Welcome your membership and guests. Don’t forget that your members need to feel appreciated and wanted!
  • Introductions. After you have announced yourself and one thing about you, have each student in the room to do the same. Ask anyone in the room to share their experiences (positive or negative) with politics.
  • Explanation. Your members need to find reason to join! Make sure to explain both what our organization is, but also why they should be a part of it!
  • Plans. Make sure to give your group a rough summary of what you will be doing throughout the year; national conferences, national conventions, helping with campaigns, going on trips, etc.
  • Prepare for the next meeting. Remember that you will need to be able to inform your members about the next meeting i.e. the date, location, etc. You will also likely need to use the contact information you collected.

To get ideas for future events your local chapter can pursue, click here!

Connecting with Our Organization

CAHSD and HSDA are relatively decentralized. As a local chapter leader, you will have both a lot of freedom and a lot of responsibility. However, there are certainly going to be times where you need to communicate with other members of the organization, and it will surely be beneficial to both you and your chapter if you maintain a strong level of communication.

Here are tips and suggestions to ensure that you make the most of the resources we have to offer:

  • Get in touch with the national organization. Make sure you have registered your chapter here and that all of your members fill out this form. This will allow HSDA to effectively deliver updates, resources, and opportunieis to you.
  • Connect with State Leadership. You can find contact information for all CAHSD Executive Board members here. Also, once you register your chapter, you will be invited to a group chat where you will be able to communicate with all of the Executive Board members.
  • Encourage attendance at State and National Conferences/Conventions. Going to a conference or convention can be a very exciting experience. Whether or not you or your members plan on making a career in politics, does not affect the benefit of meeting other individuals like yourselves from around the nation.
  • Connect with other Chapter Leaders. Don’t forget the fact that there are hundreds of other students across the nation leading local high school chapters. Every state has a Facebook and/or Twitter account. Once you join the CAHSD group chat, you will also be able to communicate with other CAHSD chapter leaders and members.
  • Be Respectful. As a local leader, you carry the responsibility of representing CAHSD, HSDA, and the Democratic Party as a whole.

If you need assistance or want more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Regional Director (find them on the Our Leadership page) or any other member of the Executive Board!

For additional resources, please check out the Resources page of our national website!

Welcome to CAHSD

Our Mission

From the suburban neighborhoods of Orange County to the bustling streets of San Francisco, we work tirelessly to support Democratic candidates and legislation.

Our Bylaws

CAHSD leadership consists of an Chair and Vice Chair elected annually, and an appointed Executive Board that works to conduct statewide initiatives and plan events.

Our Leadership

The Executive Board works to expand and promote the organization while also ensuring that all chapters and members are connected with opportunities to grow their political involvment.

Find a Chapter

Local chapters, located within individual high schools and communities across the country, make up the pulse of the High School Democrats of America as a whole.