learn / 2015

IHADLA: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty by Educating and Empowering Youth.

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by "I Have a Dream" Foundation - Los Angeles (IHADLA)

Working in Boyle Heights, Watts, & Inglewood, IHADLA strives to break the cycle of poverty by sponsoring entire grade levels of 3rd graders from under-performing schools in low-income areas, providing them with the only long-term, comprehensive program of its kind in Los Angeles. For 10 years, “Dreamers” attend our in-school, after-school & summer programs that prepare them for academic & emotional success; each student is eligible for an $8,000 scholarship from us upon completing high school.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD
  • Sunrise Elementary School in Boyle Heights, 99th Street Elementary and Animo James B. Taylor in Watts, and multiple high schools in Inglewood

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • District-wide graduation rates
  • HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math
  • Academic Performance Index* scores
  • College matriculation rates
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher ed
  • Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

Currently working with 65 third graders in Boyle Heights, 70 sixth graders in Watts, 120 ninth and tenth graders in Inglewood, and continuing to provide scholarships for 114 recent college graduates in Boyle Heights, IHADLA specifically chooses different program sites throughout Los Angeles so that we make the most impact possible across the county. By providing IHADLA’s unique programming to those children with the greatest needs, we are dramatically increasing their opportunity to succeed. Our Dreamers already contend with substandard living conditions, nutrition, and educational facilities, and IHADLA aims to fill these gaps and beyond with the understanding that a better life for these children means a better life for us all. It is our hope that, with the support of our comprehensive long-term program, our Dreamers will be able to raise not only themselves, but also their families, out of the cycle of poverty in which they have been living.

High school dropouts are found to be four times more likely to be unemployed, three and a half times more likely to be arrested, and more than eight times as likely to go to prison as their peers who complete their education. The higher graduation rates, increased opportunities and healthier lifestyles that IHADLA is working to provide these young people mean that they are less likely to dropout and rely upon the public welfare system. By beginning to work with a group of at-risk young people when they are in the third grade, and staying with those same students all the way through high school graduation and into college, IHADLA has a profound impact as they foster a college-going mind-set and a desire to dream big from a young age. This impact is evidenced by the fact that our most recent graduates, high school class of 2013, had graduation rates a full 25% higher than their LAUSD peers!

Most of all, by supporting IHADLA, citizens of Los Angeles are making an investment in the future of Los Angeles county. The future innovators of science, technology, social science, etc. are standing before us in Boyle Heights, Watts, and Inglewood. They have extraordinary potential. However, most of their parents never finished high school, and even fewer still know what it’s like to earn above the poverty line. Who, if not IHADLA, will lead these children towards their dreams? To turn our backs on them would be to turn our backs on our own community, our economy, and a better future for all Los Angelinos.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

To ensure we are providing the most valuable support to our Dreamers, we employ a professional outside evaluator, Dr. Beth Manke of CSU Long Beach, to conduct evaluations every year, with a major evaluation every two to three years. These evaluations track statistics on our Dreamers’ grades, attendance, involvement in crime and drugs, pregnancies, mental health and familial discord.

Our Program Coordinators (PC’s) also play a vital role in evaluation, as they continuously monitor academic performance through report cards, assignment completion, test scores, and teacher relationships. All Program Coordinators also complete Monthly Reports that detail activities of the previous month, tracking achievements and areas of needed improvement to ensure the effectiveness of the program. Each summer, Program Coordinators also conduct a home visit with each Dreamer and their family to assess any needs or concerns, using a case management approach to ensure Dreamers are always fully supported.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support