Connecting for Success

submission by RobinManzer

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):

LA's BEST

Organization website:

www.lasbest.org

Organization Twitter handle:

@lasbest

Organization Facebook page:

facebook.com/lasbest

Organization Instagram:

LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program

Describe your organization (Check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization

Government

Individual

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.

:

LA’s BEST provides more than 28,000 Los Angeles children with out-of-school-time experiences that facilitate academic and social success.

Please describe yourself (Check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

:

LA's BEST aims to implement and scale a cutting-edge approach to the cultivation of empathy, neighborhood safety, and conflict resolution.

Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.

:

At @LAsBEST, we're aware of how violence can negatively affect our city, but have you thought about how this affects our children?

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)

No

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay

Westside

Other:

What is your idea/project in more detail?

:

LA’s BEST has developed Connecting for Success (CFS): A Guide for Building Healthy After School Communities, an innovative curriculum designed to connected youth to others by building skills in empathy, self-control and both social and emotional self-awareness. By taking students on journeys addressing basic problems of violence, food shortages and environmental degradation, the curriculum supports development of an understanding of the origins of these social issues along with development of age-appropriate social actions.

LA’s BEST aims to execute critical elements of a business plan designed to bring CFS to scale in Los Angeles and beyond, and create an alternative revenue stream in benefit of Los Angeles families in need.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

:

Connecting for Success is an innovative, original LA’s BEST program that promotes constructive approaches to conflict resolution, social self-consciousness and an understanding of one’s place in the world, as well as global and civic awareness. CFS provides LA’s BEST field staff with comprehensive training and tools to help upper grade elementary school students make healthy life decisions, especially when they are dealing with stress or other mental and emotional challenges, and to reduce tolerance for violence within their own neighborhoods, all while promoting global and civic consciousness. The original curriculum uses the devastating problem of landmines and their impact on children in countries where they exist—particularly in Colombia—as an entry point and catalyst to encourage students to think and talk about similarities and differences between their lives in urban Los Angeles communities and the lives of their counterparts in Colombia. For example, local gangs use guns, violence and intimidation to establish their territory in Los Angeles, while drug cartels in Colombia use landmines to secure their cocaine fields. Both scenarios create climates of fear, and harm the innocent. As a result, children and families are not able to function freely within their own community. The latest version of CFS curriculum also incorporates the global issues of food security and justice in Haiti and the environment in China, which further facilitate the expansion of participants’ perspective and empathy.

As an LA2050 grantee, LA’s BEST will train field staff and high school students to implement CFS in benefit of children at three Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elementary schools. Moreover, LA’s BEST will upgrade a learning environment at an LAUSD high school to make it more conducive to instruction. Finally, this project connects Los Angeles-area elementary school students, a Los Angeles high school, LA’s BEST field staff, LA’s BEST senior staff, as well as two other educational institutions through an online learning portal. The portal is a platform to train program workers to implement the Connecting for Success curriculum, which teaches children empathy, social awareness, global awareness, community connection, cross-generation connection, and demonstrates a clear path to a career in community service.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to play today? In 2050?

:

Through the proposed project, children will have access to after school enrichment programming and LA’s BEST will help people of all ages residing in Los Angeles feel safe while in their homes, neighborhoods, and places to play. As a result, residents will be more likely to access public spaces and develop an overall sense of community and love for their neighborhoods.

Connecting for Success teaches “the village” surrounding our children how to process complex emotions associated with violence, which is persistent in the neighborhoods we serve. Rather than seeing their community as a threat, children will see their community as a source of relief and empathy. By scaling this training, CFS increases the levels of empathy, safety and reassurance in children – replacing the fear that keeps them from accessing public play spaces in the first place. These children need to heal before we can expect them to want to play.

Internal surveys reveal that each LA’s BEST site that has implemented Connecting for Success has experienced significant positive outcomes for staff and students. CFS has given once-shy youth a chance to speak up and take leadership roles, increased a sense of community and improved quality of relationships among participants and staff, as well as broadened participants’ worldview. Students have acquired life and leadership skills, particularly in making healthy, constructive decisions. Field staff report better competencies in responding to student needs, developing programs and leading activities, as well as improved abilities in active listening, patience, and connecting with children so that they feel comfortable seeking guidance through difficult situations.

LA’s BEST anticipates these outcomes at the partner High School and the three elementary schools that will launch CFS as a direct result of the proposed project. Moreover, once CFS is available to a broader audience via the proposed training webinars, LA’s BEST expects other youth service providers, their constituents, and the communities surrounding them to experience the above-described benefits of Connecting for Success.

By capturing the training and distributing material via a digital portal, the potential to scale impact of the curriculum is immeasurable. Not only will the portal allow training to reach the entire 2,300 field staff of LA’s BEST, benefiting more than 28,000 children the organization serves daily, it also could easily be shared externally.

Whom will your project benefit? Please be specific.

:

Direct project beneficiaries include 20 local High School students, 60 children who attend three LAUSD elementary schools located in under-resourced communities, five LA’s BEST field staff, and one local high school counselor. Indirect project beneficiaries include the overall student body, staff, and faculty at local high school, as well as their families and the surrounding community, and the student bodies, staffs, and faculties at the three LAUSD elementary schools located in neighborhoods plagued by crime and poverty, as well as their families and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. With the Connecting for Success training webinars, the proposed project has potential for exponential impact with infinite beneficiaries in Los Angeles and beyond.

LA’s BEST is in the process of implementing Connecting for Success at all 194 after school program sites. Since 1988, LA’s BEST has grown from operating at 10 elementary school sites to 194, and now serves 28,000 children each day during the after school hours. Since the organization’s inception, LA’s BEST has provided more than 362,000 elementary students with out-of-school time learning experiences within safe, stable and stimulating environments to ensure short-term and long-term academic and social success. Further, since 1988, LA’s BEST has brought more than $300 million in public and private dollars to the City of Los Angeles, with a significant percentage used for salaries of youth development community staff hired from neighborhoods in which the children served by the organization reside.

All LA’s BEST sites—Los Angeles Unified School District elementary schools—are located in high-crime, low-income communities throughout Central, East and South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Eighty percent (80%) of children served by LA’s BEST are Latino, 12% are African American, and about 4% are Asian. On average, 90% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. While children from more affluent neighborhoods often spend out-of-school time partaking in activities that interest them, as well as help them to wholly learn and grow, like organized team sports, visual and performing arts, and digital learning experiences, children served by LA’s BEST generally lack these types of extracurricular opportunities within their homes, schools and communities.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

:

Connecting for Success was developed specifically for children served by LA’s BEST by Development Without Limits (DWL), an organization led by the former Director of Staff Development at LA’s BEST, in collaboration with LA’s BEST stakeholders, and in consultation with renowned psychiatrist Dr. Mark Goulston. For the proposed project, LA’s BEST will again collaborate with Development Without Limits.

LA’s BEST has a confirmed collaboration with SunnyEd on the proposed project. SunnyEdwill help LA’s BEST design the CFS portal and bring Connecting for Success to scale. In addition, support from the LA2050 grant will permit LA’s BEST to partner with SunnyEdto test the implementation of Connecting for Success by extending the training in several ways:
 We propose training an additional cadre of LA’s BEST staff members in the implementation of the CFS curriculum for 3 sites. Staff training will include an orientation session of 12 hours for 6 staff members and follow-on training of 3 sessions. Each follow-on session prepares staff to introduce and implement a specific journey with students.
 Implementation of CFS would be carried out in moderninzed learning space e.g. the Incubator Hub on the campus of Locke High School in South Los Angeles. Through this project, LA’s BEST would partner with a local high school to update and use this space for instruction and for community needs. The updates would benefit the high school long after the conclusion of this project.
 Through this grant, LA’s BEST in partnership with SunnyEd will extend the training to high school students at the high school in Los Angeles. These high school students will then form a mentoring group for the LA’s BEST elementary school students and would work alongside our staff in the implementation of CFS. Journeys would focus on those elements in the curriculum that foster positive connections and those that develop skills for facilitating conversations. The effort is aimed as much to connect younger and older youth as to extend the social action model to a new target (high school students). We propose to train 20 high school students in the CFS curriculum. Their work would support implementation of the program at each of three sites. High School youth would work with small groups of 4 to 5 LA’s BEST students and support the work of LA’s BEST staff debriefing experiences in small groups (checking for understanding, debriefing the journey).

How will your project impact the LA2050 "PLAY" metrics?

Access to open space and park facilities

Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs

Per capita crime rates

Percentage of residents that feel safe in their neighborhoods

Attendance at major league sporting events

Residents within 1⁄4 mile of a park (Dream Metric)

Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park (Dream Metric)

Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities (Dream Metric)

Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play (Dream Metric)

Other:

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

Youth who know how to connect to others, and have strategies for minimizing their social isolation and maximizing their sense of connection to others will be more likely to care for their community and advocate for services to improve the situation for all of them. LA’s BEST can measure youth levels of social isolation and levels of safety as much in school as in their communities. Also, we will track the types of social actions they engage in to promote safety in their communities. Finally, 80 youth will be involved in the proposed project through the after school programs at the elementary school and high school levels.

Please select which other LA2050 Goals are relevant to your project or organization (check all that apply):

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

:

For the proposed project, LA’s BEST will track:

1) The number of field staff and number of high school students trained to implement Connecting for Success.

2) Change in levels of perceived social isolation among elementary school and high school students engaged in the project.

3) Changes in levels of self-efficacy towards engaging in social action.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

:

Connecting for Success was developed specifically for children served by LA’s BEST by Development Without Limits (DWL), an organization led by the former Director of Staff Development at LA’s BEST, in collaboration with LA’s BEST stakeholders, and in consultation with renowned psychiatrist Dr. Mark Goulston. CFS provides LA’s BEST field staff with comprehensive training and tools to help upper grade elementary school students make healthy life decisions, especially when they are dealing with stress or other mental and emotional challenges, and to reduce tolerance for violence within their own neighborhoods, all while promoting global and civic consciousness. The original curriculum uses the devastating problem of landmines and their impact on children in countries where they exist—particularly in Colombia—as an entry point and catalyst to encourage students to think and talk about similarities and differences between their lives in urban Los Angeles communities and the lives of their counterparts in Colombia. For example, local gangs use guns, violence and intimidation to establish their territory in Los Angeles, while drug cartels in Colombia use landmines to secure their cocaine fields. Both scenarios create climates of fear, and harm the innocent. As a result, children and families are not able to function freely within their own community. The latest version of CFS curriculum also incorporates the global issues of food security and justice in Haiti and the environment in China, which further facilitate the expansion of participants’ perspective and empathy.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

:

LA’s BEST has experience in implementing not only this curriculum but others designed to foster socioemotional development in youth at the elementary school level. We have a cadre of trained staff ready to begin the work with this particular set of elementary schools. We have already begun to establish relationships with staff from the high school and are ready to begin talks to recruit high school participants. Thus, with experienced trainers, a curriculum in hand, sites for implementation, we believe that the goal is clearly achievable.

Overall, an LA2050 Initiative grant would allow for a five-week orientation, follow-on training, and implementation of the CFS program with 60 Los Angeles elementary school students. Training would include the following:
 3 four-hour training sessions for LA’s BEST staff; 1 six-hour monitoring session; and 1 four-hour reunion session.
 1 four-hour training session for high school students; 1 four-hour training in conjunction with LA’s BEST staff and high school students; 1 eight-hour joint training of all participants; and 1 four-hour reunion session and debrief. Stipends would be offered to the high school students during training. Their participation in the implementation would fulfill their community service requirement.
 Training of 1 high school counselor in the CFS curriculum for 1 four-hour session and compensation for the counselor for 2 hours per week to provide a resource to high school students to help them process the experience emotionally and psychologically; connect with the elementary school students; develop facilitation and mentoring skills; and reflect upon their own lives.
The training would be focus on team building, move to introducing the topics of the week including units exposing the children to the journeys related to the landmines in Colombia then end with a reunion session.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

:

Because Connecting for Success curriculum addresses serious global issues that are not generally discussed with children, LA’s BEST will combat perceptions that the program is too “heavy” for elementary school students. In addition, implementation of the proposed project will require dedication of significant internal resources, including staff time. Since LA’s BEST delivers a wide array of out-of-school-time education, enrichment, and recreation programming in benefit of more than 28,000 children in need each day, the organization faces challenges related to competing priorities. An LA2050 Initiative grant will help LA’s BEST overcome this challenge by allowing us to dedicate financial and human resources to effectively execute the proposed project.

What resources does your project need? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)

Education/training

Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

Discussion
41 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

Love the program!!!

by kimster85
over 1 year ago

Connecting for Success helps create global and civic awareness for children that are real for many in other countries. Such opportunities allow for children to connect to others by building a sense of empathy, and by identifying relevant barriers/patterns within their communities, in turn advocating for positive change. Through the power of play and a collaborative approach, such programs empower children to seek solutions and be active community members who not only dream of a better place, but help create the best place to play.

by PILIMC
over 1 year ago

Kids learning about empathy for each other through the joy of play is what will make this world a happier place.

by atrevino
over 1 year ago

LA's BEST and its Connecting for Success program helps children (and adults) build a greater understanding of themselves, their communities and the world they live in. It helps make Los Angeles better!

by nida.sanger
over 1 year ago

LA's BEST's Connecting for Success program is a hands-on way to bring the change to our communities that we all desire.

by maureenmclellan
over 1 year ago

Connecting for Success is a life-changing curriculum that teaches empathy and global citizenry through an interactive experience. It isn’t a game. It’s a game-changer for the children, the schools, the communities and the City of Los Angeles.
I love this program!!!

by mercedesC
over 1 year ago

LA's Best is an amazing organization that has the right focus at the right time. They are focused on ensuring that our future (the children) has the right learning opportunities throughout all of Los Angeles.

by amaniroberts
over 1 year ago

The power of play and learning empathy is transformative.

by debecoo
over 1 year ago

Private schools and charter schools from all over the country have expressed wanting to buy Connecting for Success developed by and for kids with the greatest needs and fewest resources. Why? Because it's relevant, it teaches through play, and it works.

by Evecar
over 1 year ago

Two of my kids have been participating in LA'S BEST. This program helps kids realize that theirs more to do after school. My kids love to play and learn in LA'S BEST

by maribet
over 1 year ago

LA's BEST is an incredible organization with exemplary programming. I have witnessed and experienced the positive effects that it has on the children!

by BHBH
over 1 year ago

My kids have been in four after school programs (two LA's Best, and two others), and LA's Best is the BEST!! I have paid a lot for private after school programs that are not nearly as organized and respective as LAs Best. We are there to stay!

by LA_Mom
over 1 year ago

What better way to bring not only the community you live in but all communities everywhere together as a nation.

by michelle.diggs
over 1 year ago

LA's BEST is a phenomenal program targeting the underserved children of Los Angeles. It is a nationally recognized program that has and continues to provide extended learning for children. I have seen first hand how much these children love the program. LA's BEST's track record and experience is indicative of the type of program that merits support.

by lcromerophd
over 1 year ago

LA's BEST is an amazing organization that helps kids prosper and broaden their future. Connecting for Success is a great program to help kids get involved in their communities.

by jcornejojr
over 1 year ago

i have been working with the program for over 10 years and i think this program is great

by nene2332
over 1 year ago

Connecting for Success provides children with a really powerful and valuable experience. This is a model that should be replicated in all schools, public and private alike.

by hectorace
over 1 year ago

Connecting For Success broadens the minds of our youth to reach beyond the invisible borders of their neighborhoods to include global connections through learning about and experiencing many cultures!

by pcc20
over 1 year ago

LA's best gives kids in LA a positive influence and a chance to learn while they play!

by emily.benowitz
over 1 year ago

LA's BEST has made a positive impact on youth development. I applaud every single staff member for making the after school a better place for children to learn while they play.

THANK YOU

LA's BEST

by wisk52
over 1 year ago

Through implementation of Connecting for Success, Los Angeles residents will develop empathy for one another, neighborhoods will experience increased overall safety, and LA will become the best place to PLAY. Please help LA's BEST realize this dream by voting for Connecting for Success. Thank you!

by RobinManzer
over 1 year ago

Connecting For Success is a wonderful way for kids to learn while playing and to play while learning. It spreads peace and puts smiles on the faces of children. It's the BEST!

by conniea2014
over 1 year ago

I've witnessed Connecting for Success in-person and can attest to the fact that it lives up to its name. Kids learn to connect to their own feelings, to their peers, and to the world at large. They learn because they are engaged. They are engaged because it's fun. It's fun because it's a form of play. I see this kind of program as the future of education and critical to the future of Los Angeles.

by charris
over 1 year ago

"Connecting for Success" is a wonderful tool for staff and children to use to discover their power within and to think outside of their comfort zones. The use of this program would really make LA A Cool Place to Play!

by francinedevett
over 1 year ago

"Connecting for Success" is a wonderful tool for staff and children to use to discover their power within and to think outside of their comfort zones. This use of this program would really make LA A Cool Place to Play!

by francinedevett
over 1 year ago

Connecting for Success is one of the best programs in Los Angeles schools. Kids appear to be playing, but they're really learning to care about each other and to understand their place in the world. It's a beautiful program.

by Syls
over 1 year ago

There's nothing more rewarding than seeing children develop empathy, a worldview, and human connections right before your eyes. That's the power of PLAY. Kids are learning because they're having fun.

by belmajohnson
over 1 year ago

Go LA's BEST!

by emily88
over 1 year ago

"Connecting for Success" is an excellent program that allows LA's BEST students to connect to eachother and their community through empathy. The program would definitely make LA a better place to PLAY!

by emmaruthroberts
over 1 year ago

Thank you!

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

Wow! Thank you PILIMC for sharing your thoughts about Connecting for Success. We want to share the power of PLAY with the world!

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

We hope that we can continue to make the world a happier place by focusing on the youth in our community.

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

We agree! Thank you for the support, Nida!

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

Thank you for the support, Maureen! We plan to continue to bring positive change into the LA community.

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

Thank you so much for your support and for powerful comments about Connecting for Success!

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

Thank you for your support, Amani!

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

We agree! Thank you for the support.

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

Thank you for your comment! We are so proud of Connecting for Success and happy to hear that others are just as proud of the program.

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

LA's BEST is so happy to hear that your kids love to learn and play in our program!

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

We are so happy to hear your kinds words! Thank you for your support!

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

Thank you so much for your comment! We are so happy that your kids enjoyed LA's BEST and that you think it is the BEST!

by LAsBEST
over 1 year ago

Pink ribbon award box icon 45b87e779c93f5099a48378c2aadc0fcd51184974daecf76e3f5c50034ea21fb
Award topvotedidea 5a5ae14e3d56a10363ea2a398cece46cf4df891213cbe68677c19d8903a1932a
$100,000
Circle 1 inactive e7784182a1bd5eace578987db27fc19ec6337f418c48c6c8732605b9043d50d0 Step1 title submission inactive cde083e53089b973e7c9dc80a44a038c1ce4cf3b2650aeb5549157d1ed58a2d9

Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Submission Ended
Thursday, July 31, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 2 inactive 74a43088831beb43fdbd7591ef5d50a5a7a26ff92c9e8ed489782459fa31a8d9 Step2 title voting inactive 96be722f53c417edddb5742ba9a6dc2fd403f7e4f6c19dbe883d50d20d93689d

Voting Began
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 3 83da7a9432aeea960e1a9e9ee93e7ea1221af6c8f42b27964f2e9999d94b2b8d Step3 title 3d9e2a65d6ea1ad301f8fc607f5f828bd96362932c71d81c0da5b1fd964422b0
75 School Gardens in Los Angeles Schools!
75 School Gardens in Los Angeles Schools!

Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014