South LA recreation programs receive $12 million donation

South LA nonprofit youth organizations focusing on art, music, and sports have been chosen to receive grants totaling $12 million over the next five years.

The grants, courtesy of an anonymous donor and led by the California Community Foundation’s (CCF) “Preparing Achievers for Tomorrow” (PAT) Initiative, invited only a select group of nonprofits to apply for the funds.


HeArt Project students stay in rhythm with the beat.

The seven nonprofit organizations that will benefit from this donation are A Place called Home, A World Fit for Kids, Heart of Los Angeles, Kids in Sports, Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, The HeArt Project, and Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club.

Nike Irvin, Vice-President of Programs at California Community Foundation, said that “PAT nonprofit partners are selected based on four criteria: a proven track record of providing music, sports and/or recreational programs for undeserved youth in South L.A., existing partnerships with high schools in South L.A., sustainability, and leadership.”

One South LA group in particular that will benefit from this donation is The HeArt Project – a nonprofit that provides long term, sequential arts programs in order to inspire young students to stay in school.

imageHeArt Project students learn how to screen print art.

Liliane Ribeiro, Development and Communications Director of The HeArt Project, explained that this group will be “receiving a two-year grant of $100,000, totaling $50,000 every year.” Ribeiro thought that being one of the elite nonprofits to benefit from this donation was very fitting, since this year The HeArt Project is celebrating its 20th anniversary. “It’s a great time for us to go through this process,” Ribeiro said.

Research has shown that students who are involved with some kind of artistic or athletic extracurricular activity are more than likely to stay in school. As a result, Ribeiro said that it’s “critical” that these kinds of programs are funded for South LA schools.

“In L.A. alone, the high school dropout estimate is at about 35 percent. Almost one out three students is dropping out school.” Ribeiro said that the “number one reason for these dropouts is boredom. Through our 20 years of experience, we’ve come to find that arts is a key engager.”

imageA HeArt Project student proudly poses with her work of art.

Irvin further explains California Community Foundation’s decision to continue serving the South LA community, “We know from research that creative, social and recreational activities improve motivation, engagement and development of social competencies in youth,” she said. “We also know that youth in South L.A. lack basic access to quality after-school programs.”

With the help of these substantial grants, these nonprofits can be sure that their futures are bright and welcoming for future artists, musicians, and athletes.


A HeArt Project student sees his dream of attending UCLA’s art school becoming a reality.

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