Nonprofit

Communities In Schools of Los Angeles

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3 Submitted Ideas

  • LEARN ·2015 Grants Challenge

    Getting LA students to graduate: educating the whole child

    CISLA’s goal is to improve educational outcomes for underserved students at 12 schools in Los Angeles Unified School District, leading to an increase in graduation rates. Through the use of one-on-one case management and school-wide or small group interventions, we will place passionate and trained social service professionals onto school campuses every day to identify the needs – academic and non-academic - of students and offer on-site programs and referrals services that address those needs.

  • 2013 Grants Challenge

    Youth for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization

    Low income communities of color are disproportionately impacted by cumulative sources of pollution and poor land use decisions. The only way these disparities can be seriously addressed is for well-informed community members to engage in the decision-making process. Our idea is to build a generation of civic leaders that will work with different stakeholders to transform their communities and their neighborhoods toward more sustainable and livable environments. In this project we propose to offer a wide range of leadership development and technical trainings related to civic engagement and environmental stewardship. These trainings will build the capacity of a dedicated group of youth activists, leaders and future decision-makers in Southeast Los Angeles County and in the Harbor area--which is host to some of the most polluted and vulnerable communities in the Los Angeles region. Here are the activities that CBE proposes: Leadership Development Trainings: Youth will complete an intensive 6-week, 18-hour summer training. Youth will learn how and why pollution disproportionately affects low-income communities of color (Session I); the locations of the most egregious polluting industries in their communities (Session 2); pollution’s detrimental effects on human health in their communities (Session 3); the environmental decision-making processes in their communities (Session 4); how community efforts can successfully stop or prevent pollution (Session 5); and how communities develop a vision for protecting and improving their environments (Session 6). Educational and team-building elements of the trainings will help youth build motivation to become leaders in community environmental stewardship. Mono Lake Trainings: Youth and adults will participate in intergenerational “Parent Night” workshops on water issues and Mono Lake. Youth, with CBE staff, will participate in 5-day, 4-night educational field trips and trainings at Mono Lake, hosted by the Mono Lake Committee. Youth will learn to analyze the relationship between Mono Lake and the Southern California water supply, how to gather and test water samples to assess the health of water, and uses for this data. By learning about water conservation practices and about the impact of Southern California water use on Mono Lake, they will develop motivation to conserve water on individual and household levels, for example by turning off the tap while showering or brushing teeth and by using water-efficient systems to water plants. LA River Stewardship Training: Youth will each attend 1.5-hour LA River Stewardship workshops and one of three, 2.5-hour LA River Stewardship kayaking field trips with CBE and LA River Expeditions staff. During the workshops, youth will learn about water pollution issues related to the LA River, the history of the revitalization of the upper portion of the river, and current community efforts to revitalize the lower portion. Youth will learn to analyze the relationships between mobile sources of pollution and river water quality, and between the future health of the lower portion of the river and planning for Highway I-710, which runs next to it. During the post-field trip workshop, all youth will gather to compare the upper and lower LA River, to analyze the impact of river pollution on human health, to problem-solve better solutions, and to conduct a visioning process for river stewardship. Stormwater Pollution Trainings: Youth will participate in one 1.5-hour stormwater pollution workshops and water sampling field trips with CBE and LA Waterkeeper staff. The workshops, co-led by CBE staff and LA Waterkeeper, will teach youth to think critically about industrial water pollution and how the Clean Water Act can be used to reduce it. During the field trips, youth will see and learn how industrial runoff contaminates ecological systems and affects the health of humans and other species and will gather water samples to be evaluated for pollution levels.

  • 2013 Grants Challenge

    Communities In Schools of Los Angeles: A Vision of 100% Graduation in LAUSD

    At Communities In Schools of Los Angeles, our vision is 100% high school graduation. The current graduation rate for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is 64.2%, and among Latino and African American students it’s just 60% and 57% respectively. As the LA2050 report highlights, more than 20,000 Angelenos are entering our economy every year without a high school diploma.

    Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation's leading high school dropout prevention organization. Working nationally with 1.25 million students in 27 states, CIS is the only organization proven to increase graduation rates and decrease dropout rates in the schools in which they serve. Since its founding in 2007, CIS of Los Angeles has grown to serve over 16,000 low-income and minority students and families at 12 traditional, Title 1 public schools across LAUSD, with 2,300 students receiving individual case management.

    A 2011 study by Robert Balfanz at Johns Hopkins University found that students who are most at-risk of dropping out of high school can be identified as early as 6th grade through three Early Warning Indicators (EWI’s): poor attendance, unsatisfactory behavior and course failure. These students have an 80% chance of dropping out and only a 10-20% chance of graduating from high school.

    CIS of Los Angeles places Site Coordinators, passionate and extensively trained social workers and counselors, directly into the district’s highest need middle and high schools to support both individual-student as well as school-wide needs. Site Coordinators act as case managers, using the above mentioned EWI’s to identify underserved students most at-risk of dropping out, and connecting them with strategic partners to provide interventions which specifically address those students' unmet needs. CIS then follows up to make sure those services are getting students back on track to an on-time graduation. CIS Site Coordinators work before, during and after school, in teams of two to four, case managing up to 33% of the student body population at a site.

    In addition to one-on-one case management, Site Coordinators work with school leadership to identify a school's biggest needs and develop a site plan outlining specific school-wide goals, including increasing overall attendance, reducing disciplinary incidents, or strengthening the college-going culture. Based on these goals, CIS Site Teams develop school-wide activities such as attendance initiatives, college & career fairs, behavior incentive programs and personal & professional development workshops. Parent engagement opportunities are also offered throughout the year, such as workshops about conducting effective parent-teacher conferences.

    Because 37.5% of drop-outs happen in 9th grade, CIS has developed targeted initiatives for students in their freshman year, such as workshops on study skills and time management during this time of transition. At many of our schools, CIS partners with City Year for report card conferencing, during which trained, volunteer adult mentors meet with every single 9th grader for one-on-one assistance reviewing their report cards. These adults provide students with encouragement and advice, in addition to practical tools for initiating effective conversations with their teachers and improving their grades.

    CIS’s work is guided by the Five Basics, a set of essentials every student needs and deserves: a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult; a safe place to learn and grow; a healthy start and a healthy future;, a marketable skill to use upon graduation; and a chance to give back to peers and community. This means that though CIS of Los Angeles will most directly impact LA2050’s Education indicator, our work also indirectly impacts the other indicators, including: Income & Employment, Health, Public Safety and Social Connectedness.

    As Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said, “The path to the middle class today runs straight through the classroom.” The healthy and prosperous future of Los Angeles depends on improving our city’s graduation rates until 100% of our students receive a high school diploma.

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