Mayor Eric Garcetti Joins Youth Policy Institute to Celebrate $30 Million Federal Grant

Los Angeles chosen alongside five other locations nationwide for Promise Neighborhood award to help communities launch, scale, and sustain educational supports and community-based services to meet the needs of children and families.

 

  —  Mayor Eric Garcetti today launched a campaign to provide low-to-moderate income households with free tax preparation services, and help taxpayers claim State and Federal tax credits.

Los Angeles elected officials, community leaders, parents and students gathered in the courtyard of Berendo Middle School/Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter Middle School Wednesday to announce the award of a $30 million Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood (LAPN) grant to Youth Policy Institute (YPI). This U.S. Department of Education grant is over five years starting January 2017.

“This Promise Neighborhood is more than an award—it’s a challenge that Los Angeles is proud to accept,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "From South LA to Pico-Union to Hollywood to Pacoima, place-based initiatives like the Promise Zones and the Promise Neighborhoods are expanding what we can achieve when federal, state and local governments join forces with schools, community-based organizations, philanthropists, and businesses to tell every family and every child that a zip code is not a destiny.”

The new Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood covers eight schools, comprising seven in Pico-Union and one in Hollywood, for a total of almost 4,000 students. In the LAPN, 71% of families live in poverty. 35% of residents were born outside the U.S.—a majority of them in Central America. An estimated 10% of students are unaccompanied minors.

“The children of working-class, chiefly Central American immigrants in Los Angeles face hurdles that a lot of Angelenos don’t have to think about,” said Councilmember Gil Cedillo. “The vision of the Promise Neighborhood is to break down the barriers between them and the resources they deserve that will let them participate fully in the fabric of our city and follow their own dreams.”

These demographic realities produce educational challenges: 63% of elementary students are not proficient in English Language Arts (ELA), and 74% of middle school students are not proficient in math. Only 41% currently graduate high school having met the requirements for the University of California and California State University systems.

“The Promise Neighborhood tells students growing up in the Pico-Union and Hollywood neighborhoods that there’s a village behind them,” said Steve Zimmer, President of the Los Angeles Unified School Board. “By bringing educational and social supports into schools, by creating links from students and their parents to community-serving organizations and the educational system, we can start to level the playing field and create the conditions for success.”

Under the auspices of the new Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood, YPI will coordinate 17 solutions with 52 services, spanning early learning through 12th grade and into post-secondary education. In addition to the federal funds, the LAPN requires a private funding match; $7 million has already been committed by local philanthropy.

“Our children thrive when community support outside of school is as strong as the support we provide inside of our schools. Los Angeles has increased collaboration across jurisdictions, agencies, and neighborhoods to make greater progress with less dollars,” said School Board Member Mónica García. “Because of amazing partners like YPI, we get closer every day to 100% graduation in Los Angeles. We thank every partner for your continued partnership to ensure that every child can read, write, think and believe.”

The Promise Neighborhood tells students growing up in the Pico-Union and Hollywood neighborhoods that there’s a village behind them.

YPI is the lead agency for the new Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood, as well as the first Promise Neighborhood that was awarded in December 2012. The program has already shown considerable student achievement gains: in the four years of its operation, graduation rates have increased by 6% across LAPN high schools in Pacoima and Hollywood. STEM Academy of Hollywood has increased their graduation rate by 25 percentage points over that time, to 93% last year. Across all the schools in the original Promise Neighborhood—traditional, charter, pilot, and partnership—students achieved an average 7% increase in English Language Arts proficiency and a 5% increase in math last year, exceeding the district and state averages, despite serving a high-poverty population with 90% eligible for free/reduced lunch. Flagship schools in the Promise Neighborhood had increases in proficiency as high as 38 percentage points in one year.

The Promise Neighborhood initiative was President Obama’s signature education and anti-poverty program, strategically developed to transform schools and communities into vibrant centers of opportunity and excellence. In collaboration with the City and County of Los Angeles and LAUSD, YPI and 63 partners will build a pipeline of much-needed wraparound services including early childhood development, social-emotional support, academic support, and college and career coaching to ensure pathways out of poverty for youth and their families.

The new Presidential administration raises concerns that Department of Education policies and programs are subject to change. However, the future of the federal Promise Neighborhoods program looks bright: Promise Neighborhoods became a standalone program and a permanent part of education law under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the rewrite of No Child Left Behind that was passed by a GOP-controlled Congress. The place-based approach central to Promise Neighborhoods has broad bipartisan support, and Promise Neighborhoods exist in rural locations with Republican representation such as those in Kentucky and Mississippi. 

Over the past several years, Los Angeles has stood out in its competitiveness for place-based federal and state support, with the federal government investing $277 million through 55 new grants spread across 15 agencies since 2013—not to mention other initiatives such as the SLATE-Z Promise Zone that extends from Downtown Los Angeles into South Los Angeles.

“The Promise Neighborhood approach is a commitment that goes from the highest levels of government to the schoolhouse door, telling students and their families that we won’t let you down,” said Dixon Slingerland, President & CEO of Youth Policy Institute. “We stand here today backed by a whole coalition, breaking down siloed agencies, linking them to partners in business, philanthropy, education and community, everyone working together to keep that promise.”

 

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About the Youth Policy Institute
Youth Policy Institute has been providing education and support services to low-income families in Los Angeles since 1996 and is the only agency in the country to have been awarded all four federal Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives: Promise Zones, Promise Neighborhoods, Choice Neighborhoods, and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program. Together, these initiatives form a place-based approach to fighting poverty, reducing crime, improving educational opportunities and creating access to jobs that builds on YPI’s decades of history helping youth and families. For more information, visit ypiusa.org.

Contact
Josh Joy Kamensky  |  323.326.7438
joshkamensky@gmail.com

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