2022 Grants Challenge

Very Important Performers(VIP) Expanded Enrichment Program

The Assistance League of Pasadena (ALP) is seeking funds to support an expanded education initiative for middle school students in Pasadena. ALP is in the process of restructuring its Very Important Performers (VIP) Program with the goal of providing enrichment opportunities to PUSD students at the middle school level who have made significant improvements in the areas of behavior, academics, or attendance. The ALP is currently working with the Pasadena Unified School District to identify areas of greatest need at its six middle schools.


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?

San Gabriel Valley

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

Research (initial work to identify and understand the problem)

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

ALP has worked for many years with PUSD to recognize students who have made a significant improvement in behavior, academics, or attendance. ALP’s VIP program was designed to encourage marginalized students to re-engage in their education. We work with middle school counselors and principals to identify students in need of positive reinforcement to engage more in academia. Until COVID, we were able to provide these children with a celebration and gift in the hope of reinforcing positive movement in the child’s life. Offering access to an enrichment activity of the student’s choice would provide an additional benefit to assist in continuing to progress both socially and academically. Our current program involves six middle schools and recognizes three students each semester at each school. Selected students are recognized as VIPs in a ceremony each semester and receive a gift card. We seek to spark curiosity and intellectual passion with expanded educational opportunities.

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

The Assistance League of Pasadena is restructuring the existing Very Important Performers (VIP) Program. We currently work closely with the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) with a number or programs. VIP is specifically targeted at middle school children within PUSD. The program was scaled back during COVID. Recognition of middle school students is currently limited to remote awards presentations. In addition to the bi-annual recognition of students, the Assistance League wants to provide summer enrichment opportunities to students to allow them to continue success. We believe that a student who gets to select what he or she wants to do (be it learn to be a chef or a coder) helps a student with self-reliance, a chosen skill set, and most importantly motivation. The benefit of allowing a student to select an enrichment opportunity is that a student can taking responsibility for a part of his/her life. We are currently in discussions with PUSD to determine the optimal way to provide enrichment. This may be in the form of a scholarship to specific local programs or support of a new program designed in partnership with PUSD to best serve the needs of the middle school student. We will attempt to seek additional matching funds to further the impact of any grant we may receive.

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

It is expected that the expansion and reimagining of the VIP program would lead to improved academic and social success for the selected middle school students. The goal is to spark passion and creativity as a means of promoting continued positive development for underserved middle school students.

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 Assistance League of Pasadena works closely with the Pasadena Unified School District. Contact is made at the school level and nominations for the VIP Program come directly from staff at the district’s middle schools. We use surveys at each location to obtain feedback concerning the program and areas of success and recommendations for improvement.

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

Direct Impact: 60

Indirect Impact: 300