learn / 2015

School is Cool initiative

School is Cool initiative

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Thinking about Tomorrow

Our "School is Cool" initiative is designed to help our community receive all they need to create a base of knowledge, a love of education, and adopt the tools needed to thrive in and out of the classroom. We make attendance at school a priority and promote academic excellence to all students. By teaching students to value the importance of education, we aim to increase their overall interest while helping to bridge the gap between the educational inequities that currently exist.

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

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

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

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program

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

  • Percentage of children enrolled in early education programs
  • Percent of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment
  • 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)
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)
  • Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)

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

Our “School is Cool” initiative is a prime example of how to positively influence and encourage at-risk students to value education! Along with our programs targeted to motivate ALL students to achieve academic success, we reach out to the entire community promoting the importance of building a positive school environment. This, in turn, promotes academic achievement with the end result of high school graduation, college and career readiness.

So far, our program has demonstrated significant improvements in Proficient/Advanced attendance rates at the school wide, K-12, level including both gender and ethnicity. Involving families and members of the community helps to create an overall excitement and buzz among the students and their schools! In the past, we’ve been able to donate laptops to students graduating from high school who pursue a college education and we have currently added a reward for perfect attendance with wireless tablets that are PERFECT for continued learning while away from school. Creating the desire to learn by providing opportunities for at-risk students to win cool prizes motivates our students to work hard and earn their reward with respect and dignity!

Thinking about Tomorrow is an organization committed to excellence and holding true to a clear vision and passion for delivering outstanding results with every effort we undertake. Over the years, we have proven the effectiveness of youth leadership development. Our community led programs, developed and managed by a community for a community, make a striking impact on our students. We believe in alternative education and youth leadership development, especially for those from underrepresented minority communities.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Working directly with LAUSD’s schools, counselors, and teachers allows us to maintain record of any given student’s attendance in any school! We track progress daily, weekly, monthly and annually as students’ attendance rates progressively increase. Tying this metric of measurement to the students that receive backpacks with school supplies provides further proof of our program’s success.

It is only through the collaboration of many, that the relationships we’ve built with the schools, students and their families will have the most impact. We want to make school a fun and safe place, not a place that our students dread. We strive to provide a place that feels like “home away from home.” TaT aims to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. The more students attend school regularly, the easier their transitions will become between elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, and high school into college and eventually into a career!

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

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support