2021 Grants Challenge

Building Highly Effective Educators For Students in High Need Areas

The Center builds the capacity of teachers and schools in high-need areas so they can better prepare student of color and low-income students to access rigorous education, opportunity pathways, and be college and/or career ready. By boosting social-emotional and culturally responsive practices, students realize their value, develop their strengths, and are prepared to fulfill their full post-secondary future. This whole-child approach is an essential step to building systemic educational equity in Los Angeles schools.


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

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

In LA, the number of low-income students and students of color are threatened by the lack of rigor and cultural insensitivities in public schools in high-poverty communities. Statistics demonstrate that these students have consistently faced systemic barriers and lacked the supports necessary to access higher education, opportunity pathways, and navigate successfully to a four-year degree. This marginalization is most evident in disparate rates of graduation, incarceration, and unemployment. Distance learning has significantly exacerbated learning loss among low-income, Black, and Hispanic students. In addition, the virus has disrupted many of the supports that help vulnerable youth stay in school. It is anticipated that these challenges will lead to an increase in high school dropout rates, academic performance gaps, socio-emotional challenges, and even more students leaving school unprepared for college and/or career, inhibiting their potential to achieve stable lives.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

The Center supports teachers’ efficacy to address barriers to student achievement and illuminate postsecondary opportunities, creating a clear path from high school to college/career success. To accomplish this, the Center collaborates with school administrators and instructional leadership teams to custom design and implement a combination of professional development, technical assistance, and assessment protocols. Our approach leverages best practices from applied research and collaborative partnerships in the public sector. We focus on improving the region’s lowest-performing schools to ensure 1) Teachers are equipped to meet the needs of each student in their classroom; 2) Students are well-known, valued, and challenged; 3) Curriculum is relevant and rigorous; and 4) Every student has the skills and knowledge that places them on a trajectory for college, career, and life success. The Center’s student support programs are critical components in transforming school systems’ ability to provide high-quality education. It is through these bespoke programs that students of color have access to opportunities to the social-emotional learning that will support them in overcoming barriers to future success, as well as to discover and explore college and career possibilities for their future. With this whole-child approach, students of color realize their value, develop their strengths, and imagine pathways that prepare them to fulfill their full post-secondary future.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 400

Indirect Impact: 11,500

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

An equitable community is one where everyone is included in the full benefits of society. In such a community, everyone is treated with fairness and justice and empowered to participate fully in social, cultural, and economic life. For Los Angeles youth, this means putting systems and supports in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success. That requires understanding the unique challenges and barriers faced by students of color and low-income students to help them overcome those barriers. While this in itself may not ensure equal outcomes, we all should strive to ensure that every child has equal opportunity for success. With the empowerment from equitable education benefits everyone in Los Angeles County through higher rates of economic stability, lower crime, healthier lifestyles, reduction in poverty, higher civic involvement, and a stronger sense of inclusiveness. This is the Los Angeles the Center envisions through its work.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Students of schools and districts that have participated in the Center’s professional development training have increased their performance across multiple college and career-readiness metrics, including: A-G completion, 11th grade English and math standardized test scores, attendance, graduation rates, and other California Department of Education data, including the College/Career Indicator. On average, students of schools and school districts whose teachers have participated in the Center’s training have a graduation rate of 84%, as compared to the 75% graduation rate of non-Center trained schools and districts. Over the past 18 years, the Center has helped improve the practice of more than 3,500 educators, helping more than 500,000 students in underserved communities attain the skills and outcomes that support them in successfully preparing for postsecondary educational and career opportunities.

Which of the LEARN metrics will you impact?​

High school graduation rates

Student proficiency in English & Language Arts

Proficiency in STEM

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

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