The mission of the C5 Youth Foundation of Southern California, is to change the odds for high-potential teens from under-resourced communities by inspiring them to pursue personal success, while preparing them for leadership roles in school, college, work and their communities.


C5LA is causing generational transformations to build stronger communities throughout the country.

The Need

American society fails too many of its young people, especially its teens. Born with potential and filled with great dreams, many of our youth do not achieve all they are capable of because they have neither the support system to feed those dreams nor the opportunity to pursue them. As a result, many of our young people succumb to the expectations of others; they believe that a college education is beyond their reach or, worse, they drop out of school for the short-term reward of work, or fall victim to the lure of gang affiliation.

C5LA addresses this critical issue. Our communities require engaged citizens and committed leaders and our businesses need qualified employees prepared with appropriate skills and character, yet 30% of the nation’s youth, (and this number is much higher in Los Angeles), do not even graduate from high school, often making it impossible for them to fill these needs and difficult to make a positive contribution to society.

The Issues

Our public education system receives much of the blame for the many young people who fail to graduate and become productive citizens. Our government is trying to address this issue with the No Child Left Behind legislation, and countless other organizations and foundations are investing millions of dollars in various initiatives to improve our schools. As successful as these initiatives might be — and the jury is still out — most are based on the assumption that the key to improving youth outcomes is to fix our schools.

Addressing, however, the issue of under-achieving youth requires us to get out of the box, both figuratively and literally. The reason many young people fail is not because of what happens (or doesn’t) in school. We need to consider what is happening outside of the box, outside of the school and classroom, to begin to understand the issue and the opportunity. Young people are impacted by everything in their lives and affected by everything that is missing from their lives. Too many of our youth grow up in environments with limited support and few opportunities, unable to develop a positive vision for their future.

C5 Youth Foundation provides young people with these supports and opportunities, helping them envision a future worth investing in. And even more importantly, we provide them with the skills and confidence to pursue their vision.


When creating the C5 program, we consulted extensively with thought leaders in the youth development field. Abundant research clearly indicates what youth need in order to see success and become productive college going adults. The C5 Youth Foundations has incorporated these critical elements into our programming.

Our youth-centered program:

  • Builds strong relationships between youth and adults — creating confidence that our youth are not alone, that people truly care about and support them.
  • Introduces the concept of college early — allowing them to see this as a realistic goal and showing them how to achieve it.
  • Introduces them to new activities, ideas and concepts — expanding their horizons, helping to create a new vision for their future.
  • Engages them in challenging activities — building self-confidence which youth carry with them into challenging real-life situations.
  • Engages them in community service — building self-efficacy so they see that they can make a difference.
  • Leads them to career opportunities — exposing them to new opportunities through job shadowing and career exploration.


C5LA was founded in 1999 as the personal philanthropy of John Alm, former President and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprise. After years of sending his own children to summer camp, John saw the impact that it had on their lives, helping them develop personal skills, confidence, and improved self esteem. The camp experience was an amazing lesson in life for all that were fortunate enough to attend. Unfortunately, those children who could benefit the most from such programs were unable to afford such an experience.

With this in mind, John and his wife Carolyn began their mission with the idea of providing not only a camp program, but also a leadership development and life preparatory experience to those who simply had no access to such opportunities. After bringing his initial dream to reality, C5LA has grown in scope from a four week summer camp to what is now a 5 year, year-round Leadership Development and College Preparatory Program. Since the inception of the program, John Alm and the Los Angeles program have inspired others to expand C5 which now serves youth in four other cities across the United States.