2021 Grants Challenge

City Year Los Angeles Whole School Whole Child Program

City Year believes all children can succeed. Every day, our AmeriCorps members serve as student success coaches, helping students build on their strengths and cultivate social, emotional and academic skills - from mastering fractions to learning to work in teams. City Year partners with schools in under-resourced communities to create learning environments where all students have the tools to grow and fully engage in their education.


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

Central LA

East LA

South LA

Other:: Inglewood

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Students in the communities we serve often don’t have access to educational opportunities and tend to face systemic obstacles that can further drain their capacity to learn. Students in these circumstances graduate high school at rates that are nearly 22 percentage points lower than their middle- and upper-income peers. This inequity is due in part to a lack of access to educational opportunities and individualized supports that are designed to meet the intensity of student need. Current school closures and distance learning undoubtedly create more barriers that can compromise students’ academic and life outcomes. According to the NWEA, students will likely see learning loss similar to that of other disruptive crises or to the “summer slide” crises. This learning loss is likely to be exacerbated by the additional aspects of trauma students are experiencing, particularly the students we serve who come from households impacted the most economically.

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

As Los Angeles and Inglewood Unified Schools Districts operate via remote virtual learning, our AmeriCorps members continue to serve as student success coaches in a virtual capacity. We focus on the three types of interventions known as “Early Warning Indicators” of being off-track from graduation for students – attendance, behavior, and course performance. We have pivoted our service to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our schools and students. City Year Los Angeles has developed a variety of options to implement our course performance and social-emotional development interventions virtually or in a hybrid remote/in-person capacity, when the time comes. Our AmeriCorps members lead breakout rooms to review specific academic concepts with small groups of students, call home to promote attendance or assist with technological issues, host virtual afterschool spaces where they can help with homework and class material, set goals with students around social-emotional competencies, and perform regular check-ins with students to monitor their growth in those areas, among a myriad of other supports. AmeriCorps members’ invaluable presence in virtual classrooms will help to mitigate learning loss. This grant award will help us maintain a strong cohort of AmeriCorps members who work hard to decrease the potentially widening skill gaps of our students, help create differentiation in the virtual and in person environments, and to assist teachers in virtual settings.

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

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

Direct Impact: 13,000

Indirect Impact: 25,000

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

If our work is successful, our students will be better equipped academically and social-emotionally to return to in-person learning. Prior to the pandemic, City Year was the subject of a study with the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University to explore whether there is a connection between social-emotional and academic outcomes and understand whether there is a correlation between time with an AmeriCorps member (ACM) and student outcomes. The study found a strong connection between social-emotional development and academic outcomes. According to the study, improving in just one area of social-emotional development is equivalent to gaining a year of schooling. This analysis validated City Year’s holistic approach by revealing that we support improvements in academic outcomes through the direct effect of English Language Arts or math tutoring time with an ACM, and through social-emotional support from an ACM, which correlated with stronger academic outcomes.

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

We will continue to evaluate our impact via qualitative feedback from our partner schools. We elicit this feedback from our partner teachers and principals regarding our impact on students via mid-year and end of year surveys. Through the surveys, teachers and principals can assess their satisfaction with City Year and evaluate the impact of our service on students and school culture. This year, we have our highest ever approval ratings from our partner teachers! 95% believe that CYLA AmeriCorps members are having a positive impact with students. During a typical school year, we would measure our academic impact by using the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) Inventory exams and the Deveraux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) to measure students’ academic and social-emotional development. This year, we will not administer the HMH inventory or DESSA, as those tests have not been built for the virtual space and as AmeriCorps members must be physically present when the tests are taken.

Which of the LEARN metrics will you impact?​

Enrollment in afterschool programs

Student proficiency in English & Language Arts

Proficiency in STEM