LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Friends Literacy Center Program

The Literacy Center is an important part of Friends' mission to encourage academic achievement, community involvement, and awareness of opportunities within and beyond Watts. The Literacy Center gives the children of Watts the chance to live to their fullest potential.


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?

Research indicates that children from low-socioeconomic communities like Watts develop academic skills more slowly compared to children from higher socioeconomic groups. Many of these youth come from homes where low literacy environments and chronic stress negatively affect their academic skills. 1:1 instruction outside of the classroom is valuable and gives these students an opportunity to work specifically on skills they need to improve academically. Since an alarmingly low 3.2% of young adults in South Los Angeles hold a college degree, Children and teens involved with our programs are beating these low expectations. The tutors we hire from the Watts neighborhood and make them the best role models for the younger students because they have experienced the same academic and social challenges our younger students are presented with. They encourage the children they tutor to improve their reading so that they too can get a good education and grow to lead productive lives.

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

Friends Literacy Center is an afterschool program operating a total of 30 weeks per year. The tutors provide personalized motivation that inspires confidence in the individual students so that the children can learn the material at their own pace. 1:1 tutoring also reduces competition among students, thus reducing their frustration of not being able to keep up, giving them a chance to feel successful as they progress. It serves the purpose of targeting specific needs for the individual child to maximize instructional time. Friends believe that education is the best intervention to break the cycle of poverty. Education is the great equalizer and a lever against systemic barriers. Students who learn to read by the 4th grade greatly increase their chance of graduating high school; putting them on a path toward a more sustainable prosperous lifestyle. Friends Mentoring Program's goal of helping the Watts teen tutors and scholarship recipients get into college not only increases their economic prospects in life, it also broadens their world view.

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

Friends vision has a "win-win" for the academic success of the student and the economic/social success for the tutors. Friends has been successful in providing a useful after school space for students to be productive in. At the Literacy Center, not only are the children gaining much needed help with improving their reading skills, their high school and college aged tutors/mentors are being given an opportunity to give back to their own community while gaining job and leadership skills. Friends Literacy and Mentoring Program anticipates outcomes from the program: - 85% of students achieve an advance in reading levels; - 30% of students achieve grade equivalency as shown by the STAR tests; - Friends professionally trains 25-30 youth from the community in literacy techniques and will assist them in understanding the role of commitment and responsibility in preparation for college helping 95% of the graduating tutors go on to college

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

Friends Literacy Center is committed to ensuring that all students gain the critical reading skills they need to prepare them for academic success. At the core of our program model is the use of multiple data sources to monitor student progress and program success. The Literacy Center systematically collects, analyzes and uses data to generate knowledge on each individual child by assessing student reading skills three times a year with STAR testing and administering a Windsor Learning/Sonday System Pre-Test in September, and Post Test in June. Both these assessments enable the Executive Director and Program Coordinator to determine students' reading levels at the start of the school year, modify instruction with the tutors during the year, and report gains at the end of the year.

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

Direct Impact: 30

Indirect Impact: 100