Imagine you had the funds and the wherewithal to help lift a child out of poverty and change the trajectory of their future in a positive way. That’s just what the Friese Foundation is doing with its recent donation to Strive LA.
The Friese Foundation’s mission is to partner with various communities and organizations to make a significant difference for veterans, first responders, orphanages, mental health services, churches, hospitals, schools, and animal welfare organizations.
By providing financial resources to help bridge funding gaps where the need is great, the Friese Foundation aims to provide hope and promote healing and wellness. Its support is helping several nonprofits, charities, and service-based organizations grow and sustain their critical work.
An anti-poverty powerhouse
At its core, Strive LA is a charity that gives children living in the underprivileged Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles the tools and resources necessary for a successful life. By focusing on what it means to strive—to work hard on academics and to adopt healthy behaviors—Strive LA nurtures lifelong learners with the drive and confidence to achieve all that they can.
The organization offers after-school programs in academics and the arts. Working closely with children and their families, Strive LA staff offer guidance and encouragement to boost academic performance. The aim is to help young people participating in the program to reach grade-level proficiency in the schools they attend, which includes more than 25 charter, public, and private religious schools. This is no small feat: in 2019, the organization’s pre-assessment of incoming students revealed that only 1% of them began the school year at grade-level proficiency.
Strive LA focuses on improving students’ English literacy, math proficiency, computer skills, and public speaking. Homework tutoring is available one-to-one and in small groups. Guest speakers provide insightful personal stories of how hard work and persistence pay off.
Other programs include a financial literacy elective class, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, Teen Nights for middle and high schoolers, a collaborative project with Youth Entrepreneurs, student staff volunteer initiatives, theater arts, and even a board game group.
Events and programs like these are where young people are able to improve their communication abilities, exercise their creativity, and gain other important life skills that will serve them well into adulthood. The organization mentors kids in building self-reliance, resilience, independence, and ethical personal values. Children learn to think for themselves and understand that they have choices that can powerfully influence the course of their lives.
In addition to its academic and extracurricular programs, Strive LA also has a positive impact on children’s lives simply because it provides a safe space. Strive LA serves as a sanctuary for many children and youth from the challenging situations they often encounter in their neighborhoods, at school, and even at home. Out of more than 270 neighborhoods in the LA area, the Green Meadows-Watts neighborhoods where Strive students live consistently rank among the top 10 for violent crimes.
Strive LA seeks to continuously assess its effectiveness and adjust direction where necessary. For example, every student completes a California Standards-based English Language Arts and Mathematics entrance exam to assess their competency level. They are then matched to one of six classrooms that can provide remedial and advanced lessons.
Each semester ends with a retest to see what the student has accomplished over the course of the year. Not only is this standardized approach crucial to assess each student’s progress, but it provides valuable information that can be used to alter and strengthen teaching methods and lesson plans.
With a slim operating and program budget just over $1 million, every dollar counts for this non-profit. Every child that is able to learn, grow, and simply be a kid in a safe space supervised by caring adults is one less youth in the criminal justice system.
In addition, every individual success story is one more community member who will inspire others to achieve their potential. While the financial need is high, the rewards are significant. These are just a few reasons why the Friese Foundation is proud to support Strive LA.