STEM Academy of Hollywood to Send Nearly Half of Applicants to UCLA

STEM Academy of Hollywood to send 15 of 35 applicants to competitive university. Los Angeles Promise Zone and Promise Neighborhood school offered college and career assistance through Youth Policy Institute.


  —  At STEM Academy of Hollywood, students, teachers, and parents are cheering the results of hard work and innovative programming that came out of the school’s participation in both the Promise Zone and Promise Neighborhood. Out of 35 STEM Academy seniors who applied to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 15 were admitted—a 42.8% acceptance rate at one of the most competitive colleges in the United States (17% acceptance rate), accounting for a full 10% of the graduating class.

Two years ago, only five STEM Academy seniors applied to UCLA, and none were admitted. The difference came in the support provided by the Youth Policy Institute. “YPI totally transformed our school and our college-going culture,” said STEM Academy Principal Paul Hirsch.

Funded via the Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood including support from Citi Foundation, YPI deployed a team of staff at the school site including a College & Career Advisor to assist STEM students, and provided a four-day residential Peer College Ambassador summer program on campus at UCLA, training students in the college admissions process so that they could build leadership skills while helping their peers through that same process.

“These students shattered expectations, and they did it by helping each other,” said Dixon Slingerland, President & CEO, Youth Policy Institute. “This is what the new War on Poverty looks like: smart wraparound services, deployed in place-based initiatives, giving rise to a new generation of leaders.”

STEM Academy is a public Los Angeles Unified School District pilot high school, housed inside Helen Bernstein High School. Its “linked learning” approach builds career pathways in biomedical and engineering fields. The federal designation of the Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood in 2013 brought intensive tutoring and wraparound services as part of the Promise Neighborhood’s community school model, ensuring students had the academic and social emotional support they needed to see themselves as college-bound. Junior assessments began at the school last spring, and eligible students were given training and support for SAT/ACT testing. They were also provided financial aid information and guidance on personal statements. 

These students shattered expectations, and they did it by helping each other. This is what the new War on Poverty looks like: smart wraparound services, deployed in place-based initiatives, giving rise to a new generation of leaders.

The Promise Zone originated in the Obama White House’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative. It was created to provide low-income students in an area stretching from Pico-Union through Hollywood with opportunities to break the cycle of generational poverty. The 15 students’ backgrounds—Filipino, Mongolian, Bengali, Latino and Korean—reflect the incredible diversity of those communities. The Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood was also awarded through the NRI, and was recently enshrined into federal law with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Youth Policy Institute is the lead implementation partner on the Promise Zone, and the lead agency for the Promise Neighborhood.




About Youth Policy Institute
For over 30 years, YPI has been breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. YPI reaches more than 115,000 youth and adults annually at 137 program sites in Los Angeles. YPI is the only agency in the country to have been awarded all three signature White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives: Promise Neighborhoods, Choice Neighborhoods, and Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation; and is the lead implementation partner for the Los Angeles Promise Zone. Together, these initiatives form a place-based approach to fighting poverty, reducing crime, improving educational opportunities and creating access to jobs.

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