2020 Grants Challenge

Camp Skyhook

The Skyhook Foundation would like support for its project Camp Skyhook. Camp Skyhook at Clear Creek Outdoor Education Center is operated by LAUSD in collaboration with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Skyhook Foundation. Camp Skyhook is an immersive, hands-on experience that brings together learning and the outdoors for 4th and 5th graders to inspire them towards a future in STEM fields. Founded in 1926, the site is located in the Angeles National Forest where nature becomes a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory experience in nature.


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

Central LA

East LA

San Fernando Valley

South LA


LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Our partner LAUSD-Office of Outdoor& Environmental Education has a tremendous role in the project. The grounds of the campsite at Clear Creek Outdoor Education Center are leased by the LAUSD from the U.S. National Forest. This means that the staff maintains the grounds entirely. Additionally, the camp is staffed by LAUSD employees who have been rigorously vetted according to the LAUSD standards to work with children. Curriculum and the instructional focus are created in alignment with the LAUSD science program adopted at all elementary schools. Additional attention is given to the needs of special populations within the district including homeless youth, foster youth, English Language Learners and a large population (80%) living in poverty.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Quite frankly, science is not a priority in most elementary schools. By the time children reach middle school, they are not prepared to embark in studies related to STEM content areas. The results of the 2019 California State Science Assessment demonstrated that only 1/3 of students scored at or above grade level for science content knowledge. In response to this need, Camp Skyhook programs take science a dimension further. If you read about a subject, you’ve got the written word. A second dimension is that you hear about it. But real 3-dimensional learning allows us the touch, the feel, the weight of the equipment and standing on the site. Students have much more of an understanding and personal connection. We want students to build upon their experience at Camp Skyhook and gain a deeper understanding of STEM and learning creatively while exploring the outdoors.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

This project is important to us as is it provides an equal opportunity for an overnight residential program to all students free of cost. In collaboration with LAUSD-Office of Outdoor and Environmental Education (OOEE), Camp Skyhook provides expert instruction and support for high-risk populations such as foster youth, homeless youth, English Language Learners and children living in poverty.

We are uniquely suited to take on this because our partner, LAUSD, ensures that their staff receives sustained professional development from UCLA, NASA and other experts in the field of neuroscience, social emotional learning, and risk assessment. The majority of staff has many years of experience and often contributes to the improvement of curriculum. Often times, we think of education as limited to a formal classroom setting. However, there are types of learning that can best be facilitated outdoors. Where all the senses are enlivened.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 2,640

Indirect Impact: 10,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

The heart of Camp Skyhook’s work involves connecting youth to STEM content and nature by eliminating barriers, providing resources, and promoting outdoor programming as essential for aspiring to be change leaders, building healthy lives and inspiring future stewards of the planet. The outdoors serves as an entry point that is relatable to all and serves to level the playing field. We want to fundamentally change approaches to teaching and learning. We are advocating for teaching the way kids learn. A focus on project-based teaching and more interactive instruction in the outdoors is the key to transformational experiences at Camp Skyhook. The outdoors provides multi-sensory options for students to learn in their own learning modality.

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

Success is being measured by way of a two-year longitudinal study conducted by Occidental College. This research, a 56-school case study, is considered one of the most extensive and largest in the U.S. A review of pre/post evaluations as well as data derived from district records will evaluate science proficiency/content retention, social emotional learning as well as track attitudes about STEM. A treatment group will be compared to a control group from each school site in order to determine a relationship between improvement in participants versus non-participants of Camp Skyhook. Preliminary data demonstrates a 28% increase in science and engineering content retention vs the control group.

Which of the LEARN metrics will your submission impact?​

Proficiency in STEM

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff

Strategy assistance and implementation