2022 Grants Challenge

Transforming Lives Through Performing Arts

Pullum Center provides free performing arts instruction to 1,200 underserved students, ages 5-20 who reside within a five-mile radius of 43rd Street and Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles. Our big idea is to use performing arts as a catalyst to promote academic success and develop mature adults who impact their communities as positive role models. Since its inception in 2011, nearly all Pullum Center high school seniors have graduated high school and gone on to higher education or a professional career in the performing arts.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

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

South LA

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Pullum Center is located in South Los Angeles, one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city. The six high schools and eight middle schools located in the Pullum Center service area offer little or no performing arts education. Performing arts education in our local public schools has been steadily cut over the past several decades due to funding shortfalls and changing academic priorities. The Coronavirus pandemic has further isolated students and the community from performing arts. Approximately 70% of our students are African American, and 30% are Hispanic, and they live in and attend schools in low-income, underserved neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Pullum Center partners with local schools that lack educational programs for the performing arts. Sadly, that is the case in most of South Los Angeles. We also strive to represent diversity, equity, and inclusiveness as a practice that furthers our mission.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Founded in 2011, Pullum Center provides free performing arts instruction to 1,200 students. Pullum Center offers 24 areas of study including drums, guitar, brass & woodwind instruments, jazz, choir, music recording/tech, piano, drama, theater, and dance. 136 classes per week are held at the main location in Leimert Park and partner schools. Pullum Center’s curriculum far exceeds state educational standards. Most students take three classes each day. Students commit to 12 hours a week for 19 weeks each semester. During the summer program, students have 6 hours of classes, 4-days-a-week, and a field trip. More than a performing arts center, Pullum Center helps students improve their lives, thereby transforming the community. Developing outstanding young people and role models requires the students and the Pullum Center to build a deep relationship over several years. Many students join the Pullum Center program at a young age and stay until they graduate from high school. Several students have returned to the Pullum Center as teachers after completing their undergraduate studies. Pullum Center focuses on the character of students graduating from the program, rather than the number of enrollments. Pullum Center establishes academic goals for students. To teach responsibility and community awareness, Pullum center requires students to serve meals to the homeless and perform at senior centers monthly.

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

Pullum Center uses music as a catalyst to promote academic success, break down systemic barriers, and develop artists and leaders who give back to their communities. For the young people in our community, Pullum Center is a place where they can create a new vision of their future. Pullum Center is honored to be a member of the Berklee City Music Network, a network of over 40 community organizations in the United States, Canada, and Latin America that collectively benefit over 46,000 students each year. We are part of a consortium of arts education providers in Leimert Park, the cultural heart of South Los Angeles. For decades, Leimert Park Village has served as a hub of African-American art and culture in Los Angeles and has been compared to both Harlem and Greenwich Village. Pullum Center is deeply rooted in and committed to serving this community and has become a haven for creative youth to mature and grow.

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

The FPCAC programs strive for the following outcomes: - Increase students’ appreciation for the performing arts and how participation can improve their lives. - Reinforce students’ commitment to their schoolwork. - Increase students’ desire to contribute to their local community. - Develop students’ self-esteem and leadership skills, impart a sense of belonging, and reduce self-destructive behavior. - Over 90% of the high school students who stay with the program graduate. - Over 90% of those who graduate from high school are accepted into college and universities. Since its inception in 2011, nearly all Pullum Center high school seniors have graduated high school and gone on to higher education or a professional career in the performing arts. Nearly a 100% graduation rate is a remarkable achievement since the local graduation rates for Black and Latino students are around 73%.

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

Direct Impact: 1,200

Indirect Impact: 100,000