2019 Grants Challenge

City Year Los Angeles - Whole School Whole Child

City Year Los Angeles unites young leaders of all backgrounds, known as AmeriCorps members, for a year of full-time service to help students succeed and stay on-track to graduate. AmeriCorps members monitor attendance, guide students through their social-emotional development and provide students with data-driven, individualized interventions in math and English. AmeriCorps members also help schools establish a positive culture and climate where students are encouraged to reach their potential.


Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

When Esmeralda was in the 8th grade at Markham Middle School in Watts, she was moved from pre-Algebra to an Algebra I class. “I struggled with new concepts and dreaded going to class,” she says. “In a class with 30 students, my teacher was too busy to give me individual support.” Esmerelda felt she could only depend on one person to get the extra help she needed in that class — her City Year AmeriCorps member, Ms. Erin. She appreciated the fact that Ms. Erin was young and could relate to her. “I didn’t know much about why she was there. I just knew she wore a bright yellow jacket and Timberland boots and she was the only person I could rely on for help with algebra.” With Ms. Erin’s help, Esmerelda passed Algebra I and culminated from middle school on time, thus entering high school set up to graduate on time.

But this is not where the story ends. Ten years later, Esmerelda, now a college graduate from Cal State Northridge, attended a career fair where she saw a familiar yellow jacket hanging in one of the booths. She was instantly reminded of the impact that Ms. Erin left on her and approached the booth to learn more about City Year. “I learned that City Year AmeriCorps members are sent into schools to help kids like me realize their full potential; to be that role model we needed in our lives to gain the confidence we needed to pass our classes.”

Now Esmerelda serves as a City Year Los Angeles AmeriCorps member at Santee Education Complex, not too far from Markham. “I know I am making a difference when I see my student, Hector, go from telling me not to waste my time with him because he’s ‘just going to fail’, to now opening up to me and finishing his assignments on time.” She is proud to wear the yellow jacket and be that friendly face her students rely on, like she had when she was in their shoes. “It doesn’t take a miracle to help students — it takes a caring adult who knows where they come from.”

Which of the LEARN metrics will your submission impact?​​

District-wide graduation rates

Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math

Student education pipeline

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​


How will your project make LA the best place to LEARN?

City Year helps close the gap in schools by providing additional care and academic support to students who are off track from graduating. Through our Whole School Whole Child program (WSWC), each City Year Los Angeles AmeriCorps member works with a focus list of students who most need individualized support, as determined through classroom observations, teacher collaboration and start-of-year assessments. We use this data to customize our services to provide each student with the support they need. These interventions are based on the three “Early Warning Indicators” of not graduating:

- Attendance — AmeriCorps members monitor attendance of their focus list students, call home when students are absent, and have conversations with students to give them the support they need to arrive at school every day.

- Behavior — Based on behavior records, teacher recommendations, and an assessment administered at the start of the year, each AmeriCorps member identifies a cohort of students who need additional social-emotional support, which includes goal-setting and self-reflection exercises.

- Course Performance — Our AmeriCorps members provide students with individualized, one-to-one academic support, providing students with the high-quality, data-driven interventions in English and math.

City Year Los Angeles currently serves students in grades 3 to 9, ranging in age from 8-15 years old, living in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Westlake/Koreatown, South L.A and Watts. Twenty-five percent are English-Language Learners and 99% percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. This year we will provide individualized intervention to more than 2,600 students, whole class support to more than 12,000 students, and whole school support to more than 25,000 students.

From June to August, our cohort of AmeriCorps members attend trainings and prepare for service. At the start of the school year, our AmeriCorps members are deployed in teams to schools across Los Angeles. Between September and October, our AmeriCorps members administer start-of-year assessments to students and their focus list students are determined. From that point, throughout the year, AmeriCorps members design and implement the individualized interventions in math and English, which are customized for their focus list students based on their assessment results. In May, students take their last round of inventories to assess their growth.

City Year Los Angeles intends to continue to grow our program by ultimately making our WSWC program available to more schools within LAUSD. It has been proven that the more contact a student has with City Year throughout their academic career, the more of an impact we will have on their academic success. This year, City Year is present in 32 schools in Los Angeles — the highest number of school we have served in a single year since beginning in 2007.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

City Year Los Angeles will define and measure success through the following goals and objectives:

1) Providing individualized support from AmeriCorps members to a minimum of 2,500 “focus list” students with approximately 15 hours of one-to-one targeted intervention per student

2) 50% of focus list students that City Year AmeriCorps members work with in social emotional development demonstrate improvement in at least three of the Deveraux Student Strengths Assessment metrics

3) 50% of focus list students the City Year AmeriCorps members work with in math and English improve failing grades, maintain passing grades, or meet/exceed their expected growth on the math and English Inventories assessment; and

4) At least 85% of teachers will report that City Year AmeriCorps members a) improve the academic performance of the students they tutor, b) improve the confidence of the students they tutor, and c) foster a positive environment for learning.