Closing the Achievement Gap for Children in Poverty
What We Do
Para Los Niños is transforming lives by closing the achievement gap for children in poverty. Our early education centers and schools build on a child’s innate strengths and resilience, preparing them to be critical thinkers, creators and innovators. Each early education center and school is a family and community resource, providing a progressive, whole child approach to education supported by a range of critical social services including mental health, parent engagement, guidance in securing food and shelter and specialized programs to help families in crisis. Our mission is to ensure our children and families have the tools and supports they need to succeed in school and in life. Para Los Niños serves more than 7,000 children and their families each year.
The first day of school is always exciting– bustling carpool traffic rushing to beat the school bell, teachers adding final touches to their seating charts, and students across the city anxiously wondering how much homework they’d be assigned. However, this year, the summer sun had some company when greeting our students– a fleet of FOX employees flocked to our campuses and surprised each child with backpacks stocked with school supplies.
The opening day give-a-way distributed over 750 school bags to every student to make sure they kicked-off the academic year with the supplies they need to learn. Brimming with pencils, crayons, washable markers, notebooks and binders, the donation sent waves of children through the hallways beaming with smiles and tears of joy.
“We’re honored to partner with Para Los Niños. Its track record of transforming lives echoes our commitment of supporting LA’s neediest communities and most heartfelt causes,” said Mike Bayless, Vice President of Employee Communications & Activities.
Now, while the coolness factor of homework is always up for debate among our students, one thing that is certain is that thanks to FOX, the new supplies will make the load a little easier to handle.
As the new school year begins, the state of the arts is once again thriving across our campuses with the help of our DreamWorks Animation Artist-in-Residence, an innovative professional development program that provides PLN schools with an on-site artist to help teachers and students.
Claire Joseph, our continuing artist-in-residence, is preparing students to express themselves by pairing their curriculum-based knowledge with the visual tools to help them creatively flourish. “It is really about giving the kids a lot of autonomy to learn and work together, while encouraging them to take what they’ve learned and share it with their peers and as a group,” said Joseph. “They are smart and their talent is immense. It is interesting that the more you leave them to it, the better the results.”
In collaboration with the faculty, Claire is exploring Art History as a broader unit of study to boost creativity and curricular goals. “Previously, our teachers had imaginative ideas but just not enough classroom time to realize them,” added Claire. “This year, we’ll use P.D. time to outline innovative lesson plans and final projects further in advance.”
Claire has worked on educational projects at the Royal Academy of Arts in London; the Otis School of Fashion Design and the Museum of Contemporary Art, among others. Thanks to the DreamWorks Animation Charitable Foundation, PLN students get an Arts infusion like no other.
Thanks to the Los Angeles Dodger Foundation and The Jackie Robinson Foundation, Para Los Niños Middle School students spent a day at legendary Dodgers Stadium. PLN students worked with Jackie Robinson Foundation mentors and received a special tour of the stadium for an exclusive “behind the scenes” look at the ball club.
“These outings inspire our students to work hard and smart toward their futures,” said After School Programs Director Cecilia Hernandez. “The exposure they gain not only enhances their life skills but reminds us all that dreams can be achieved when determination is coupled with unrelenting discipline.”
Adding to the “true blue” experience, Dodgers President Stan Kasten shared with our students his journey to becoming the the team’s leader– and what helped get him there. Students walked away inspired knowing that anything is possible when education is made a priority.
This past summer, Ford Motor Co. gave our Charter Middle School students a challenge: construct a functioning concept truck modeled after theFord F-150– but it had to be able to travel at least 25 yards, and transport students in the process.
Forty students divided into five teams with each designing the mechanics and aesthetics of their respective vehicles. After days of revising sketches, and with the help of mentors from Ford, each of the teams built trucks that supported a driver’s weight and were able to traverse the central courtyard of the Charter Middle School campus.
“I like the fact that we get to use our brains and be physical at the same time” said Ashley, an eighth grader.”It’s rewarding to see our imagination at work– and have what began as a sketch then come to life,” a shared sentiment among all the students who participated in the project.
“It is part of Ford’s DNA – to volunteer and contribute to the community. We want to make sure that students have the opportunity to build a love for learning and grow inspired to become innovators” said Debra Hotaling, Communications Manager at Ford.
Project materials were provided by the non-profit organization T4T, which recycles discarded industrial parts for use in the classroom.