Two nonprofit educational organizations have announced plans to merge in an effort to expand on both programs, which currently operate mainly in the Los Angeles Unified school district, to more districts across the county.
The two groups, LA's Promise and the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, said the new organization would be called the LA Promise Fund for Public Schools, and would offer the current programs of the two nonprofits to the 80 school districts located within Los Angeles County, the most populated county in California. The goal of the partnership is to increase academic and career prospects available to students through enrichment programs, writes Howard Blume for The Los Angeles Times.
"Today is day one," said Veronica Melvin, the CEO of LA's Promise, who will lead the new organization. "Our approach will be to engage one-on-one with superintendents or board members across the county to let them know how we can help them grow."
The announcement is not the first made by private organizations looking to help students around Los Angeles. One of the first such partnerships, Great Public Schools Now, sought out successful programs within LA Unified as it worked to replicate them in high-poverty neighborhoods throughout the district with the help of financial grants.
While the two projects are not connected, they show the effort made by outside organizations to help public school districts while they are dealing with an increase in demand for high quality education while also facing budgetary restraints. Despite a $7.6 billion budget having been approved by the LA Unified board for the coming school year, district officials still believe the district will face a deficit by 2018-19.
Three schools in southern Los Angeles previously operated by LA's Promise since 2006 will now be run by the new organization. The schools were part of a deal struck with the district, stating that the schools are separate from traditional LA Unified schools, and are run with a focus on improving academic performance. While the schools have more flexibility to make decisions pertaining to budget, curriculum, instruction, schedule, and staffing, all employees are members of the union, writes Michael Janofsky for EdSource.
Meanwhile, several in-school programs have been run by the LA Fund throughout Los Angeles County, including Girls Build LA, an empowerment program that has served over 7,000 girls to date. In addition, the group is responsible for the launch of the Intern Project, which offers paid internship opportunities to high school students with companies like SpaceX and Participant Media, as well as #ArtsMatter, which advocates for arts and creativity to be integrated into the core curriculum, and Grants HQ, which gives personalized training to teachers who are looking for additional classroom resources.
According to Melvin, the following three months will be spent seeking out specific goals in addition to strategies for implanting them. Fundraising is also a pressing concern, and each merging organization will have a budget of $3 million.
"Over the past several years, LA's Promise and the LA Fund have both compiled impressive track records with programs that empower students both inside and outside the classroom," Megan Chernin, who serves on the boards of both merging organizations, said in a statement. "The new enterprise formed by the combination of these two extraordinary organizations will be in a unique position to seed great programs that can then be developed and rolled out across the county."