learn / 2016

Supporting LA's foster youth by creating a dependable community built on trust and consistency.

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by The Academy Project

The Academy Project prepares LA foster youth to succeed in high school, through an innovative summer camp & after school program, with a guaranteed spot in a stable & supportive community

Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?


Please describe your project proposal.

50% of the 28,000 foster youth in LA end up homeless, in gangs, institutionalized or in jail. Over 42% of foster youth drop out of high school and only 3% graduate from college. Starting in Grade 7, TAP will build an exclusive & consistent community for at-risk foster youth, building on the success of our summer program to include an afterschool program to launch in April providing the necessary support & motivation needed year-round.

Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • College matriculation rates
  • District-wide graduation rates
  • Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math
  • Student education pipeline
  • Suspension and expulsion rates
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools

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

  • Central LA
  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • South & Central LA have largest population of FY

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?

TAP will make LA the best place to learn by supporting foster youth so they have the foundation needed to succeed in and graduate from high school, college & career ready. Many foster youth fail during middle school and without support, dropout of high school. Some don’t make it to high school at all. TAP will provide intensive support to our youth through middle school with summer and afterschool programs, so they are ‘high school ready’, performing at or above grade level, while being emotionally & behaviourally prepared when matriculating into high school.

The Academy will pilot its afterschool program, The Co-Op in April of 2017, before launching full time in September of 2017, building on the continuing success of our summer program, Camp Xavier, extending its reach and effect. Camp Xavier is a 2 week summer program held the last two weeks of July, focused on building trust & community within a day camp & sleep away camp. It will be followed by The Co-Op, an exclusive after school program for the same 20 foster youth, providing enrichment, remediation, & a safe place to belong. Supports will continue to be available to our members throughout high school. By maintaining connected services, we will support the Student Education Pipeline, following the youth from middle to high school and beyond.

Research has shown that keeping school as the point of stability in a foster youth’s life, is essential in lowering dropout rates & increasing proficiency & interest in academics. Unfortunately, foster youth attend an average of 7-10 schools & can change placements 20+ times. With the systems set up as silos, it is nearly impossible to guarantee a foster youth continued enrollment in school. As we work to change this, TAP has taken another approach. TAP members are guaranteed a continuous, tuition free placement within The Academy Project, regardless of placement changes, through to the completion of high school. Because of the support & security TAP offers, youth can look forward to going to school and are freed to invest in their education, lowering truancy rates. Although this is a difficult promise to keep, we will do whatever it takes to keep our youth engaged with the group they belong to. We will work with the school & foster placements as soon as an issue arises so we can prevent placement changes in the first place. There will also be events & field trips throughout the year where transportation is provided to all of our youth, regardless of distance of placement. By increasing academic proficiency & making high school graduation a reality for our most vulnerable population, suspension, expulsion and dropout rates will decrease and graduation & college matriculation rates will rise. The Academy Project will provide the necessary support & motivation to give our youth the chance to own their own narratives & future successes.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

TAP aims to improve outcomes for both the individual foster youth and the foster youth community. Although that can take many different forms, we will evaluate and monitor our progress by tracking the following metrics: Individual: Number of youth participating in TAP Number of youth applying to TAP Daily Attendance Baseline metrics established via evaluations (academic, physical, mental) given upon joining The Co-Op and monitored throughout Academic proficiency and general well being We will conduct monthly review interviews and survey our youth and staff before, during and after selected milestones to measure satisfaction with program. As an example: With the guidance of The Department of Social Welfare at UCLA we evaluated the success of Camp Xavier 2016 with surveys given to campers on the first & last day of day camp & the last day of sleep-away camp. Community: Several studies (The Invisible Achievement Gap) have provided baseline metrics for LA’s foster youth. TAP will work with Partner Schools to establish & track key performance indicators like:
Student attendance Transfer rates to alternative schools Suspension & expulsion rates CST scores and participation Drop-out rates High school graduation rates College attendance rates
We intend to continue to work with UCLA to create and execute a thorough and detailed evaluation of TAP. We intend to continue to track life outcomes ( housing, addiction, employment) as our youth leave the system

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

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Network/relationship support