2023 Grants Challenge

Uplifting System-Impacted Students to Achieve Academic Success

Crete Academy is a nonprofit charter school in South Central Los Angeles serving students experiencing homelessness and poverty. We aspire to provide children with the education and wellness resources they need to become impactful leaders. The LA2050 grant funds will directly serve our students by providing transportation through Hop Skip Drive and counseling through our MSW internship program. With these essential wellness services, Crete ensures system impacted youth receive an equitable education.


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

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

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?

The vision for Crete Academy came after our founder, Dr. Hattie Mitchell, witnessed a child crawling through the streets of Skid Row with their disconnected mother beside them. Dr. Mitchell was heartbroken by this harsh reality and dedicated her life to creating a school to support children and families living in hardship. Crete Academy was established in 2016 to interrupt the cycle of poverty through education and wellness services. Of the total amount of unhoused people in Los Angeles County, one of the highest concentrations is in the South Central region. Today, 30% of the student population at Crete is experiencing active homelessness, and 95% of students live at or below the poverty line. Homelessness impacts a young person's academic performance, physical health, mental well-being, and ability to achieve upward economic mobility. Students systemically affected by poverty, housing instability, and family instability are more likely to be truant and fall behind academically.

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

At Crete Academy, ensuring a child's success goes beyond assisting students academically. This grant will go directly to funding our existing Wellness Program. Based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the Crete Model and our Wellness Program are designed to provide services to both children and caregivers to disrupt the cycle of poverty through holistic care and resources. The specific services that this grant will support are counseling services for system-impacted students and daily school transportation. Our Wellness Program also provides students with resources such as character workshops, group therapy, and individualized care to address student-specific needs. A portion of this grant will also give us the capacity to renew contracts and expand our mental health services by onboarding an additional licensed clinical social worker at Crete. The grant will also fund transportation through Crete's partner Hop Skip Drive. Crete Academy has 6.8% of students chronically absent in 2021/22 compared to 30% of students reported chronically absent in the state. Many families that use transportation in Crete are experiencing houselessness, and it is their student's only way to get to school. In LAUSD, almost 70% of homeless students and almost 60% of students in foster care were chronically absent in 2021/22. Crete Academy's Wellness Program directly benefits system impacted youth by providing transportation and counseling services so students receive an equitable education.

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

Every child, despite their circumstances, has the potential to become a prominent leader in Los Angeles and the greater United States. Crete not only supports youth break the cycle of poverty but also equips students with the character, education, and network to be the next generation of effective change makers. When successful, we see uplifted families, low absentee rates, and high graduation rates for system impacted youth. Two thirds of the homeless youth in LA County are in the City of LA. While we primarily serve students living in South Central, the ultimate goal is eliminating childhood homelessness in the City of LA and the rest of LA County. Every child deserves a quality education and the ability to learn in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment. Children are our future, and when organizations like Crete Academy lay the foundation for homelessness prevention, LA County is closer to establishing long-term solutions to today's crises.

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 Wellness Program offered at Crete Academy directly impacts the students and families we serve. We have seen success in our programs for years, and our key metrics include 100% graduation rate and a low chronic absentee rate of 6.8%. The primary means for measuring the success of transportation services is by monitoring the absentee rate for students using Hop Skip Drive and the school overall. For measuring the impact of the counseling services, we rely on the end of the year surveys from MSWs, LCSWs, and parents. We also track wellness outcomes through student profiles, which include their grades, disciplinary reports, and overall behavior check ins with teachers and the deans. Since enrolling in our school community, families experiencing housing instability and system impacted youth have been connected to services to provide safe living accommodations and transportation when needed.

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

Direct Impact: 120

Indirect Impact: 500