Children in many neighborhoods of South Los Angeles face an uphill battle. These areas consistently rank among the top 10 for violent crime in the LA area. Of the 450+ schools in California’s bottom 5%, more than 50 are located in South LA. At many local public schools, fewer than 27% of students score “proficient” or above on standardized tests.
In this environment, children need extra support to succeed academically and grow into responsible adults. Strive LA is dedicated to providing that help, and the Friese Foundation is proud to support their work.
Strive LA is an academic after-school program dedicated to serving the children of South LA by prioritizing the following goals:
- Teach students the meaning of the word “strive” and how they can strive toward their goals through study and hard work.
- Stress that healthy behaviors and willing attitudes must come first, before academics.
- Help students reach at least grade-level proficiency.
- Support families in raising children who are educated, independent, and well-mannered.
Strive LA teaches kids to believe in themselves, rather than see themselves as victims. With the right choices, they have the power to determine the course of their futures.
Strive believes that a strong character is paramount for any kind of success at school and beyond. For this reason, Strive teaches kids to have a sense of responsibility for their actions, high expectations of themselves, and a strong work ethic. English literacy, math proficiency, public speaking, and computer literacy are the program’s academic building blocks.
Students take an English language arts and mathematics exam based on California standards at the beginning of each school year. This exam focuses on the knowledge and skills each student should have by the end of the school year. At the end of each semester, students take another exam and teachers measure their progress.
Strive LA tracks students’ grades to assess the impact of its programs. Teachers provide progress reports, participation records, and comments on students. This data helps Strive measure the effectiveness of their guidance and mentorship programs. Students who have shown exemplary progress are included in the Strive Honor Roll.
Responding to the Pandemic
The pandemic hit Strive LA students and their families hard. With schools resorting to distance learning, many children were stuck at home, but their parents still had to work. Strive offered a safe haven by holding all-day classes, with kids attending their virtual schooling at the Strive campus, supervised by staff. Many also remained for the after-school program until their parents finished work.
In effect, Strive provided all-day childcare for these families, complete with two meals and a healthy snack every day. This support was also critical because it helped the kids avoid falling further behind in their schoolwork, as so many youth did last year.
In lower-income communities, kids often live in apartments without access to a yard or safe place to play. Parents may be wary of letting their kids play outdoors due to crime and gun violence. And of course, these days, children everywhere spend much of their time in front of screens.
Seeing this unmet need for an outdoor place to play, Strive recently finished construction on a private park and garden on an adjacent property. This new outdoor space provides a safe haven where kids can exercise, get fresh air, and just have fun.
This is only a sample of Strive LA’s programs and resources. The organization also operates the Strive Kitchen, hosts a yearly trip to Yosemite, and will be launching a private academy in 2022. To learn more, see https://strive-la.org/.