Storm disrupts power in South LA + Clippers donate $3 million to City Year

Los Angeles neighborhoods suffered power loss after a record storm. (Caitlyn Hynes / Intersections South LA)

Los Angeles neighborhoods suffered power loss after a record storm. (Caitlyn Hynes / Intersections South LA)

Storm Knocks Out Power To 8,200 LADWP Customers: Rain and wind caused power outages across Los Angeles. South LA was especially hard hit with 1,636 customers in the dark, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. (CBS Los Angeles)

Donors raise nearly $40k for brothers stabbed to death in South LA: Donations poured in to a family grieving the loss of three brothers after police say they were killed by their father last week. A relative’s GoFundMe campaign successfully raised enough money for the funerals and to move the boys’ mother’s grave to be near theirs. (Daily News)

Clippers’ $3 million gift helping City Year’s work in 26 LAUSD schools: South Los Angeles schools that host AmeriCorps City Year teams will benefit from a generous gift from the Los Angeles Clippers. The $3 million gift to the nonprofit will allow the Los Angeles chapter to hire more staff to serve students in under-performing schools. (LA School Report)

City Year hopes to improve education in South LA

Over 200,000 South LA residents do not have a high school diploma according to the 2000 census. City Year, a non-profit organization that partners with public schools to help students succeed, hopes to change this.

Maya Itah volunteers for City Year at Normandie Avenue Elementary School. She understands the importance of providing a quality education to students at all grade levels.

“I’ve been to schools that haven’t been so great and I know how that affected my learning,” Itah said. “I wouldn’t want that to happen to anyone else.”

imageMural at Belmont High painted by students and City Year corps members.

As a City Year corps member, Maya works with a specific group of students where she gives them individual attention and forms a bond with them.

She has already started to see improvement in her students.

One student who was struggling with math, named Mary, would not even talk to Itah at first. Gradually, Mary began to trust Itah. This allowed Itah to better assess Mary’s strengths and weaknesses to assist her in math.

“When you have a good relationship with a student, they are more likely to believe you and trust you,” Itah said.

Students take tests to sporadically measure their performance, and Mary improved 20% from her first test to her second. However, these test scores only indicate to a certain degree how much of a difference Itah is making.

“Obviously test scores are important,” Itah said. “But at the end of the day what’s important to me is that they take charge of their learning.”

City Year volunteers form a mentorship relationship with the students they serve. On top of extra help in the classroom during the school day, volunteers also greet students in the morning, organize lunchtime activities, and host after-school tutoring.

“Any time that we can give students an opportunity with an adult who is working with them to give them additional skills, teaching them about resiliency and giving them hope, it is always a good thing,” said Darline Robles, USC Professor of Clinical Education and former superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education,

Since beginning in 1988, City Year has grown to include 6000 corps members throughout the country and internationally.

City Year serves 23 schools in Los Angeles. It has 24 US locations and two international sites. Corps members usually serve for one school year before continuing to their chosen career path.

“City Year is a great launching pad for any sector,” said Audrey Kim, corps member and team leader at Belmont High School.

Corps members often attend graduate school or enter the work force after their year of service. However, corps members often remain involved in education after their year of service ends.

Kevin Price, corps member at Belmont High School, values his time with City Year because it provided him the opportunity to be in the classroom even though he doesn’t want to be a teacher. He is currently applying to business schools.

“City Year is an opportunity where I can do something I’m passionate about, which is educational equality in a way that helps me to build my skills, but also puts me [in the classroom] in a more effective way,” he said.

City Year offers corps members like Kevin to impact these students through a dynamic different from the traditional teacher to student relationship. These “near peers” form unique relationships with students that encourage their learning experience.

“They’ve built really deep meaningful relationships with a lot of these kids,” said Kristen McGregor, principal at Los Angeles Academy of Medical and Public Service, one of Belmont High’s learning communities. “They have the older brother or sister relationship and the kids really look up to them.”

Itah thinks one of City Year’s strengths lies in the one-on-one attention corps members can provide. Itah was surprised that students at just age 10 already believed they could not succeed in school. She wants to change their attitude by offering the support and encouragement they need.

“We can never give up on kids,” said Robles. “They have the potential to be whatever they want if given the opportunities that so many others of privilege have.”

City Year’s fifth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

City Year’s fifth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service took place this Monday, January 16 from 9am – 2pm in South Los Angeles at Los Angeles Academy Middle School.

The day featured over 1,000 volunteers from community organizations, the local business community, and local schools – including 100 students and teachers from Los Angeles Academy – in service to beautify the campus of Los Angeles Academy.

Edison Middle School receives facelift during day of service

imageAn estimated 1,000 volunteers gathered at Thomas A. Edison Middle School to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in City Year Los Angeles’ day of service.

The hallways of Thomas A. Edison Middle School were lined with volunteers wearing white t-shirts and singing and laughing as they worked. Each person was hard at work with paintbrushes in one hand and paint buckets in another, paying meticulous attention to painting inside the lines.

“I’m here to make a difference,” Jamie Cabrera, a student volunteer said. “You hear it a lot, but I really do want to help. Painting a couple of things doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m sure the people at this school are going to be thankful for it. When they painted my school, I thought it was cool because I thought people really do care.”

Similar scenes could be seen across the school’s campus.

Volunteers were broken up into about thirty teams and were responsible for painting different scenes in different areas throughout the school. The largest indoor project was the painting of the portraits of all the United States presidents on both sides of the halls. Student volunteers were hard at work painting college logos to be put up around campus. Teams of outdoor volunteers painted different murals of musical notes, geometric shapes, sports symbols, and Thomas A. Edison Middle School’s logo.

Watch a slideshow of photographs from the event:

City Year corps members said it was extra-memorable serving on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

City Year’s Los Angeles branch launched in 2007 and has recorded 552,500 hours of service to the Los Angeles community. It is the fourth year City Year Los Angeles is participating in Martin Luther King Jr. Day of service.

“The significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, particularly for our organization, is something we really cherish, said Daniel Foley,the Program Manager at Gompers Middle School in Watts/South LA.

“Our organization is based solely on the diversity of young people coming together from different backgrounds and different places and on Martin Luther King Day, the day that celebrates our country coming together and trying to unify itself as one, its very clear to us why we serve.”

City Year is a non-profit organization devoted to service in schools and around the community. It seeks to help students stay in school and stay on track to graduate.

imageThe bigger message is that of “community.” Building, creating, and connecting a community, a message that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also preached.

“He spoke a lot about creating the beloved community,” Sarah Bouchereau, a City Year corps member said, “and the idea that everyone can serve.

“And everyone can be great because they can serve. So we do this on this day on all of our sites across the country to commemorate his word. It means a lot, I feel like I’m part of something larger.”

Monday’s event also marked the beginning of City Year Los Angeles’ Heroes Program. One hundred middle school and 100 high school students kicked off their six-month participation in service to the community.

“It’s special for us to have our opening day on Martin Luther King Day,” Alexis Hernandez, a student volunteer said. “Because we are his dream that he had, we’re fulfilling his dream.”

Many of the City Year corps members were inspired by the turn out at this year’s service day. They hope that their program will make a difference in rallying a community behind its youth to increase the high school graduation rate.

“I grew up in similar communities,” Mario Fedelin, Program Director of City Year Los Angeles said. “And I know and understand what it’s like to go to a school that doesn’t have. I know what it’s like to be in a community where everyone isn’t connected.

“I think for me, personally, to be a part of a group like this keeps me going. It gives me hope that our young people are part of the solution not always part of the problem.”