LOS ANGELES – Mayor Jim Hahn today celebrated the 16th anniversary of LA’s BEST by announcing the expansion of the after school program into seven more schools to serve 1,000 additional students.
“After school programs like LA’s BEST truly make a difference in children’s lives,” Mayor Hahn said. “Studies show that LA’s BEST students get higher grades, and neighborhoods that get after school programs see the crime rate plummet during after school hours. LA’s BEST is a win for kids, and it’s a win for communities.”
LA’s BEST will now serve more than 21,000 students in 130 schools across Los Angeles. The program was started by Mayor Tom Bradley and expanded to 52 schools and 6,400 children by Mayor Hahn. The LA’s BEST program will be launched at the following additional schools: Buckingham Elementary (Highland Park), 42nd Street Elementary (Crenshaw District), Gledhill Elementary (Van Nuys), Osceola Elementary (Sylmar), Rio Vista Elementary (North Hollywood), Toland Way Elementary (Highland Park) and Wilshire Crest Elementary (Mid-Los Angeles).
“In 1988, LA’s BEST created unprecedented long-term partnerships with the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the private sector to create an after school program to provide students with education, enrichment and recreation,” said California Secretary for Education Richard J. Riordan. “We’ve proven that together we can make a difference in the lives of our state’s most precious asset – our children.”
LA’s BEST ensures that children with the greatest needs and fewest resources in the city remain engaged and connected to their schools and their communities. The program provides students with experiences and tools upon which to build more successful futures.
LA’s BEST sites provide homework assistance, nutritious snacks and a variety of programs including arts, drill team and dance, reading and literacy activities, science club, and field trips, all at no cost to parents. Each site builds a tailored program to meet the needs of the students and community it serves.
“What started as a small after school program has become a national model of excellence,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Wendy Greuel, who helped establish LA’s BEST when she was an assistant to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.
“LA’s BEST continues to deliver high quality activities and meaningful interactions after school throughout its ever expanding roster of sites,” said LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer.
The UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation has validated the impact that LA’s BEST has had on students in several independent studies. These reports show that LA’s BEST children like school more, show significant improvement in grades, demonstrate positive behavior changes and report feeling safer. Additional research revealed that LA’s BEST children have higher school attendance and improved performance on standardized tests in mathematics, reading and language arts in middle and high school.
Children who participate in the after school program report feeling significantly safer in the LA’s BEST program than they do in their neighborhoods.
“LA’s BEST creates a safe haven for children after school, keeping them off the streets and out of gangs,” said Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton.
“Not only has our work made a difference to the children and families of Los Angeles, but after school programs throughout the United States are discovering many direct benefits from lessons learned through the partnerships that LA’s BEST has been able to sustain over the years,” said Carla Sanger, LA’s BEST President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to be at the forefront of the movement for high quality after school enrichment both locally and nationally.”
Sanger, a former public school teacher, has dedicated more than 35 years to improving the lives of children. She worked with Mayor Bradley’s Education Council to formulate a plan to approach children as resources to be developed rather than problems to be solved. From this perspective, LA’s BEST was started.
“While it has been an amazing 16 years, our work is just beginning. We are committed to continuing to grow the program so every eligible school in Los Angeles can benefit,” Sanger added.
During today’s celebration, the LA’s BEST Singers, a group of 30 students from 68th Street Elementary School, performed two songs and a special rendition of “Happy Birthday” to LA’s BEST. Donations in excess of $1.4 million in the form of birthday gifts were presented by a number of supporters including The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, The Broad Foundation, The Stuart Foundation, The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Pan American Underwriters Inc., The Mark Hughes Foundation, Target Stores and others.
LA’s BEST is pleased to announce the award of a $765,000 grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The grant, which will be paid over three years, funds expanded enrollment at several LA’s BEST sites, and provides the required private sector match for the 7 new sites set to open this school year with funds from the State of California.
Based in Austin, Texas, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation was established in 1999 by the Dell family to help underserved children achieve their dreams and reach their full potential. The Foundation funds programs that foster active minds, healthy bodies and a safe environment where children can thrive. With an endowment of more than $1 billion, the foundation has provided more than $57 million to children’s and community initiatives to date.
ABOUT LA’s BEST
LA’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow) was Created in 1988 as a unique public-private partnership including the Office of the Mayor, the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the private sector, LA’s BEST continues to address the growing need for high quality after school programs for thousands of children with the greatest needs and fewest resources. At no cost to parents, LA’s BEST offers homework assistance, academic support and fun enrichment and recreation activities in a safe, supervised, and nurturing environment each day after school. LA’s BEST currently serves more than 20,000 children, ages 5 to 12, at 123 elementary schools throughout the City of Los Angeles. Since its inception, LA’s BEST has been a continuing source of pride and hope for the City of Los Angeles. For additional information on LA’s BEST, please visit www.lasbest.org.