learn / 2021

The Urban Warehouse

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Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by The Urban Warehouse

Mentoring inner-city youth to value a higher education mindset through our after-school program. Utilizing skateboarding as an incentive to meet their education goals including an increased proficiency in reading and math and increased GPAs. Coming full circle when these same participants return to our program as mentors to younger participants and continue to engage in community service.


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

  • East LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

The program’s primary goal is to reduce the inequality in education in the historically disadvantaged community of East LA. School funding has consistently fallen behind the LAUSD average & as community advocates, we feel compelled to help create & develop the resources our students lack. Providing our participants with both group & one-on-one tutoring has proven to be a catalyst in helping each participant increase their reading & math proficiency &, as a result, an increase of their overall GPA. Our program focuses on engaging high risk youth in the community including foster youth. The need became especially acute during the on-line learning environment. Prior to the switch, our youth consistently increased their grade point averages. However, with the switch to an on-line learning environment, many had none or limited access to wi-fi & were unable to keep pace with their courses. For those that had wi-fi, we found they lacked the structure that our learning model provided.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Our existing program provides a structured learning model that includes both group and one-on-one tutoring. Most importantly, a group that supports and encourages our youth to believe that they can achieve more. While most past participants have come back to mentor the others, they are unable to stay on as volunteers. As adult members of their households, they are expected to contribute to the family’s living expenses and are forced to take on paying jobs. This grant would help our program provide these tutors with a living wage so that they can continue to work with us. Our current student to tutor ratio is 10 to 1. With additional tutors, we can reduce the ratio and focus on more one-on-one tutoring, where we see the most improvement. Our need became more critical in the current on-line learning environment for two reasons. First, it is more challenging to engage participants when they are in a group setting online. Secondly, many of our students lacked consistent wi-fi access.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

2,000
Direct impact
10,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our measure of success is to increase our current high school rate of graduation among participants from 79% to 100% with the help of additional mentors/tutors. Of those who graduate from our program, we expect to continue to have them move into higher education via the community college and CalState and UC systems but we are also working to develop our reach into local trade and vocation programs. In addition to the educational aspect of our mentoring program, we also require that each participant volunteer in the community via trash pick up and graffiti removal events and our Food Bank Fridays and daily food pantry, which feed an approximate 500+ families. Our program aims to generate a generation of education-focused, business-minded and community-based young men and women. An “All for One and One for All” mindset.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Initial acceptance into the program requires that each participant submit their most recent GPA & test scores; both verified by their school counselor. Each quarter they are required to submit their grades. Different levels of improvement are rewarded via the skateboarding program points system. For example, if their GPA increases to a C-average, where previously they were failing, they are awarded a certain number of points. They can redeem their points for small items (i.e., t-shirt or hat) or they can accumulate a larger number of points to redeem towards larger items like a skateboard deck or fees to enter a skateboarding competition. We also reward A-graded individual school projects & increased test scores. Our current high school graduation rate is approx 79% with the majority of our participants enrolling in community colleges, Cal State or UC schools. During the current on-line learning environment, we increased initial participation by 200% & have a 100% retention rate.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • Arts education
  • High school graduation rates
  • Opportunity youth (“Disengaged youth” 16-24 not working or in school)

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to PLAY