The 2015-16 program year was full of adventure! Thanks to our family of supporters, boards and dedicated staff led by our Chief Operating Officer Debe Loxton, we were able to invest new energies into programs that included teaching skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), financial literacy, and social-emotional learning. I invite you to learn more about our impact as you peruse our 2015-16 annual report (be sure to click on the to read more).
I’m also eager to tell you about our renewed focus on one of LA’s BEST core principles, Kids’ Voice & Choice, which involves listening to students and helping them to discover new interests, while nurturing their confidence and growth. Last year, our staff trainings emphasized how to ask students “What are your interests?” and how to create activities that respond to students’ interests and needs. We can see the impact! Our kids are more engaged and well positioned to thrive because they feel more included in directing their own learning. Through this process I was inspired…
…I was inspired by how LA’s BEST responds to the economic challenges our families face. Most of our families don’t have the resources to enroll their children in activities that they love – activities that will help them do better in middle school, graduate high school and flourish in adulthood. It’s not for lack of desire. We know this because parents tell us how thankful they are that LA’s BEST listens to their children and responds with programs that match their needs. They see the future getting brighter for their children.
Your support continues to help us embrace Kids’ Voice & Choice during this critical time of child development – starting in elementary school is not too soon! Kids’ Voice & Choice is an investment in our students’ future and the future of Los Angeles. I’m proud that LA’s BEST can empower students to be the designers of their own lives.
On behalf of the children we serve, thank you for supporting LA’s BEST.
Eric Gurna, President & CEO
LA’s BEST is a partnership of the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the private sector that provides a safe and supervised after school education, enrichment and recreation program for children ages 5 to 12 living in economically-distressed neighborhoods throughout the City of Los Angeles.
School Sites in LA
Children Served Daily
Supports One Child for a Year
Thanks to our family of supporters, LA’s BEST was busy making strides in all our core areas of support.
2015-16 25,000 kids received a nutritious supper for every 180 days of school and 5,873 students received supper for 30 days during the Summer Program.
“If it wasn’t for our supper program, some of our kids simply wouldn’t get three proper meals every day.”
-Monica De La Cruz, Site Coordinator at Westminster, 22 years with LA’s BEST
Supper can be the most nutrient-rich and substantial meal some students receive until they return to school the next morning.
2015-16 72.8% of LA’s BEST students agree that they do better in school when they get help with their homework.
“I don’t have time to help my son do homework, so if he didn’t do it at LA’s BEST, it would not get done and the extra attention is really wonderful.” -Lydia, Jordan’s mother
By scheduling time every day for all students to receive help with their homework from their peers and staff, we ease the pressure on families and help them to enjoy the precious few moments they have together at home.
Sports & Recreation
2015-16 750 basketball, 700 soccer, 625 flag football and 700 softball games played (a total of 2,775 games!).
“LA’s BEST made it possible for me to compete in numerous sports, including my very first track meet. I’m so grateful for the program that sparked my love for competition and started me off on a very rewarding journey…” -Barbara Nwaba, 2015 USA Heptathlon Champion, Olympian, Track & Field, Rio 2016
Sports and recreational games harness the power of coaching to develop character and values. Our Coaches focus on sportsmanship, gender equality and building every child’s self-esteem. Including the core sports, LA’s BEST Coaches allow time for active play and organize adventure and team building games. We stand by “it’s not if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game!”
“After school programs play a key role in closing the opportunity gap for underserved youth. Providing after school programs sends the message to these students that we believe in them enough to invest in their future.”
-Chris Paul, Clippers Basketball Player and Renata Simril, President & CEO of the LA84 Foundation (Los Angeles Daily News, May 24, 2016)
LA’s BEST programming reflects the interests and needs of the children we serve. Activities and clubs fuel curiosity, teach skills, enrich students’ lives and expand horizons. Program Areas include:
- Health & Nutrition Helps kids understand the impact of healthy choices for themselves and their environment, the value of physical fitness, and the importance of wellness to individuals and community
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Promotes inquiry, problem solving and discovery through fun and interactive experiences
- Social-Emotional Learning Nurtures students’ ability to connect with others, understand their feelings and navigate diverse relationships and situations
- Arts Activates young people’s creative power, self expression and cultural vitality
- Literacy Cultivates students’ love of reading, writing and critical thinking
2015-16 Successfully piloted the LEGO Robotics program at 4 school sites and laid the foundation to expand the program in Boyle Heights – with support from LEGO Education and the i.am.angel Foundation. Thanks to Sanford Harmony at National University, all 193 sites received the Sanford Harmony social-emotional learning curriculum and staff received professional development training and ongoing support.
2015-16 Over 6,000 students participated in Citywide Community Events
“The Celebrate Science Fair was another great example of both the impression that LA’s BEST leaves on students and the impression that the students leave on us… It epitomized the learning that occurs from the top down and from the bottom up” -Justin Fredericks, BEST Friends Board Vice Chair
These signature events bring together LA’s BEST families, supporters and city officials to highlight children’s accomplishments throughout the year. Each year, students participate in the Family Health Festival, Community Jam for Peace, Celebrate Science Fair and the Dance & Drill Team Showcase. We invite you to join us for a Citywide event! Email email@example.com for dates and details.
2015-16 LA’s BEST students went on field trips to more than 50 unique locations throughout LA.
“My favorite field trip was going to the Skirball. I had never been to a museum and it was so much fun! I want to learn how to make a sculpture.” -Michelle, 2nd Grade
Thanks to private donations, LA’s BEST is able to organize exciting field trips that have the power to inspire lifelong goals. Recent field trips include Chicano art exhibit at Cal State LA, Sparks Games, City Hall to see the Black History Month exhibit, the Grammy Museum and Santa Monica Bay Aquarium.
2015-16 5,873 students at 69 sites participated in LA’s BEST summer programming
“If I wasn’t at LA’s BEST, I’d be bored over the summer. I’d probably just stay home watching TV, but at LA’s BEST, I get to see my friends and do fun things.” -Jeremiah, 3rd grade
LA’s BEST summer programs keep kids learning, engaged and active while school is out, helping to prevent summer learning loss, which disproportionately affects children from low income families . Our summer programs have a camp-like feeling, with even more opportunities for experiential learning.
2015-16 was non-stop! We provided 25,000 students with enriching opportunities every school day and successfully piloted new programs which we hope to scale.
Our success in 2015-16 was possible thanks to collaboration with our partners, valuable resources from generous donors and dedicated staff and government officials.
Kids' Voice & Choice
2015-16 Staff reported that students expressed strongest interest in soccer, dance and computers.
“I feel like my Coach cares about me when he asks me about my interests. I think it’s cool to learn new things at LA’s BEST!” -Jessika, 4th grade
Staff are trained the best ways to ask students what and how they want to learn. Empowered with this knowledge, staff develop programs that truly reflect the needs and interests of our students and also challenge them to expand their horizons.
2015-16 Over 2000 staff employed. 57% of LA’s BEST staff plan to continue working in education or human services.
“LA’s BEST teaches me skills like time management, how to engage troubled kids and the importance of listening to parents’ needs. I love helping our students’ minds grow. Seeing them give back to our community as volunteers is something I know they learned while at LA’s BEST.” -Irene Maldonado, South LA Traveling Program Supervisor, 11 years with LA’s BEST
Staff receive quality training in child development, social-emotional learning and leadership. Our staff teach students conflict resolution, provide stability and serve as role models. Staff reflect the culture and community of the kids themselves and are deeply rooted in the communities we serve, reflecting our commitment to community development.
City of LA & LAUSD
2015-16 Eric Gurna connected with all 15 Los Angeles City Council Members and met regularly with LAUSD leadership.
“LA’s BEST is a nationally recognized, community-based organization that works with the LAUSD and the city of Los Angeles to ensure our most under-served students have equal opportunities to achieve their full potential.” -Steve Zimmer, LAUSD Board President, (Los Angeles Daily News, March 11, 2016)
In 1988, Mayor Tom Bradley created LA’s BEST as a partnership of the City of LA, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell Branch and the private sector. LA’s BEST has been instrumental in helping create after school support systems locally, statewide and nationally. LA’s BEST has enjoyed the bipartisan support of every Los Angeles City mayor and six LAUSD superintendents.
After School Advocacy
2015-16 Eric Gurna met with state legislative leadership regularly. LA’s BEST helped to lead the statewide after school advocacy coalition and was mentioned in 10 articles in seven publications – and on TV!
“I see LA’s BEST making a real difference in our neighborhoods, helping kids reach their potential and providing safety and security for working parents. I advocate for high quality after school programs like LA’s BEST because they improve our communities now and for the future of Los Angeles.” -David Ryu, Los Angeles City Council
LA City Council passed a resolution in support of increased state funding, and we held a rally at City Hall featuring representatives from all levels of government, many partner organizations, parents and families. Eric Gurna and LAUSD Board President Zimmer co-authored an op-ed advocating for increased state support, and traveled together to Sacramento to meet with state leaders. Although we have not yet achieved the goal of increased public support, we had many champions to increase funding from Councilmember David Ryu to Chris Paul, who also published a supportive op-ed, co-authored by Renata Simril, CEO of the LA84 Foundation, our biggest private supporter.
Supporters & Events
2015-16 New corporate supporters include La Opinión, AECOM and LEGO Education. We welcomed seven new members to our Board of Directors and seven new BEST Friends Board Members and had over 10,000 followers active on social media.
“The Albertsons Companies Foundation and The Vons Foundation are proud to support LA’s BEST programming. We have seen firsthand the impact LA’s BEST makes in the life of a child and the community. By combining employee engagement with improving the lives of our youth, together, we are able to empower our communities toward a better tomorrow.” -Jenna Watkinson, spokesperson, The Albertsons Companies Foundation and The Vons Foundation
Partnerships help expand children’s horizons and can include opportunities such as grantmaking, volunteering, sponsoring fundraising and Citywide events and funding field trips.
We honored will.i.am, LEGO Education and the CyberCode Twins at the annual Family Brunch on May 22nd and Sanford Harmony at National University was our Presenting Sponsor which helped us raise almost $435,000. UnWINEdLA on October 10th was a great success raising close to $200,000 thanks to the Presenting Sponsor Guggenheim Partners and our 500 guests. For the first time, LA’s BEST partnered with Harold Robinson Foundation’s Pedal On The Pier event on June 5th, which raised $85,000 for LA’s BEST and close to $1,000,000 overall.
2015-16 35 companies and organizations and 742 individuals volunteered with LA’s BEST.
“Once a week, we sent 2 people from our team to volunteer with the students. It was a great opportunity to connect with the community. We loved helping the kids and could tell we brightened their days — as they did ours!” -Angelic Mercer, Casting Manager, Critical Content
Volunteers help students feel important, assist with homework and share their talents – which the students love and appreciate. Staff value the enthusiasm and dedication that volunteers have for LA’s BEST.
A summary of LA’s BEST revenue, support and expenses for 2015-16.