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Education / 2013

Educating LAs Youth for a Better Future

Educating LAs Youth for a Better Future

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Neighborhood Youth Association (NYA)

“By furthering my education, I will be able to give back to the community I grew up in.” –NYA Alumna now attending Marymount College Neighborhood Youth Association (NYA) believes that education has the power to transform lives, families and communities; that when we invest in educating our youth, we are investing in a better future for all of us. NYA is building that better future, one life at a time. One in four LAUSD students will not graduate from high school; only 48% score as proficient in English on standardized tests; and only 46% score as proficient in math. At NYA, 80% of NYA students significantly improve their math and English skills each year and 100% of high school seniors graduate on time and go on to college! Most are the first in their families to go to college. NYA’s Personal Best program picks up where schools leave off, providing low income and at-risk youth with rigorous, individualized academic and social support during the afterschool hours. Beyond high school, NYA provides a range of support services designed to ensure that disadvantaged and first generation college students complete their degrees. Youth can start with NYA as early as first grade and continue all the way through college. Of the nearly 200 young people currently served by NYA, 99% are Latino, 1% are African American, 92% do not speak English at home, 98% are being raised by a parent or parents who did not attend college, and all are low income. Despite these challenges, NYA’s students and alumni remain committed to their education. Some travel as many as three hours each way by bus to attend a university. These young people know that they are building a better future for themselves and for their families. “I have to set the example and by going to college I can show my siblings that it is possible to accomplish their goals if they strive towards them and put in the effort.” – NYA high school senior NYA has developed, tested and tracked a highly successful proprietary curriculum. NYA’s Personal Best curriculum stresses the development of strong math and English skills, STEM literacy, college planning and preparation, critical thinking, and leadership. Each student undergoes an extensive academic and social assessment. Targeted interventions such as one-on-one tutoring or counseling are integrated into each student’s “afterschool day” along with activities such as project-based learning, group activities, competitions, peer mentoring and learning games. Students’ progress toward academic goals is evaluated as often as every week and adjustments are made as needed to ensure that each student receives the support they need to achieve success. “Whether it may be academically or personally, NYA is a place where knowledge is cultivated and encouraged to flourish. Being a part of the program has been very impactful to me, and I will take everything I learned at NYA with me, because it has shaped me into a better person”. – NYA high school senior


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

In June of 2012 for the fifth year in a row, 100% of NYA’s seniors graduated high school on time and went on to college! Most are among the first in their families to attend college! In addition to California State Universities and Universities of California campuses, NYA Alumni currently attend Macalester, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mount Holyoke, and many other prestigious colleges in California and throughout the country. Three of NYA’s students have been recognized by the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, including one winner and two finalists.

Each year, NYA awards college scholarship funds of between $500 to $2,500 to its best performing students and Alumni based on their academic achievements, participation in extra-curricular activities, communication skills and demonstrated ability to overcome personal challenges. At the most recent annual Scholarship and Community Service Awards Dinner in March of 2013, NYA awarded scholarships to 23 students – more than in any other year! Over the last thirty years, NYA has awarded over 175 college scholarships to its students.

Additionally, as many as half of NYA’s alumni who remain in the Los Angeles area after high school, return to the program as volunteers. Alumni volunteers set an example for younger students and help guide the way for the next generation of youth to graduate from high school, succeed in college and transition into meaningful careers.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

NYA augments both program delivery and staff training through key partnerships with schools, businesses and other nonprofit organizations as well as participation in professional associations. Some of these community partners include the City Scholars Foundation, Jumpstart, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Mar Vista Farmers Market, Pepperdine Business School, Revolution Prep, St. John’s Child and Family Development Center, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California (USC) and Westside Children’s Center. These are in addition to NYA’s partnerships with affordable housing developers (Century Housing and Meta Housing Corporation).

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success? NYA will evaluate the success of its program on students with the metrics below:
-Over 80% of NYA students in grades 1-12 will demonstrate improved math and/or English skills; -100% of NYA’s high school seniors will graduate from high school on time; -100% of NYA’s high school graduates will pursue post-secondary education at a four-year university. -Over 95% of NYA’s college students will make significant progress toward achievement of a baccalaureate degree.

NYA will measure the success of its expansion by the number of affordable housing sites at which the program is established. NYA will establish two additional sites in 2013 and three more in 2014.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

“My dream is to contribute to the work NYA does and pave a way for underprivileged students to go to college….” Carol, NYA Alumna & Sophomore, Macalaster College

Youth who do not complete high school will earn less over their course of their lives; are more dependent upon welfare programs; experience higher risk of serious illness and increased rates of drug use and violent crime. When a young person drops out of school, the long term negative effects are borne not just by the student but by the entire community.

The strength and success of NYA’s Personal Best program has been proven. Los Angeles’ high dropout rate demonstrates the massive need for this level of individualized academic support. NYA’s Mar Vista/Venice program facility can only accommodate 100 students, yet there are thousands of youth throughout Los Angeles who need the Personal Best program. To expand students’ access to this support, NYA entered into an innovative partnership with affordable housing developers, who are required to provide specific services on site for their residents. Through this partnership, NYA has established three satellite program sites on the campuses of affordable housing developments in some of Los Angeles poorest and most underserved neighborhoods in Downtown, Mid-City and South Los Angeles. In March of 2013, NYA awarded its first college scholarships to satellite site students. Now entering year four of this pilot partnership, NYA has proven the replicability of the program and is ready to expand even further and help more youth in more neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles.

Working with current affordable housing partners, NYA has identified over 350 affordable housing developments targeting over 20,000 low and moderate income families throughout the greater Los Angeles Area. In 2013, NYA will bring the program to two new satellite sites and three more in 2014. Each year, NYA will continue to add more satellite sites throughout Los Angeles. In this way, NYA will continue to expand, helping hundreds and eventually thousands of youth make their college dreams come true.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

NYA envisions a future in which every young person has access to the individualized academic support they need to succeed in school, from elementary school through high school and beyond. Success in 2050 would mean that every student, regardless of their socioeconomic status, their neighborhood or their parents’ highest level of schooling, finishes high school and is able to complete a baccalaureate degree.

Education is the surest pathway out of poverty. With increased academic achievement comes increased employability as well as increased income and financial stability. These positive impacts will ripple out from the individual to the community, making Los Angeles a healthier and more prosperous place for everyone.