Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Awards $1 Million in Grants to Advance Education Equity

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) today announced it has awarded a record $1 million to seven local nonprofits that address issues related to education equity.

The funding supports community-led organizations that connect students with strong mentors, focus on the specific needs of young people of color, increase access to health services for students of color and their families, and empower students to advocate for their educational needs.

The distributions are part of the institution’s General Community Grants which focus on high-priority social issues locally. In recent years, these grants have addressed homelessness, overcoming barriers to employment, human trafficking, as well as sexual and domestic violence. This new round of awards also builds upon The Foundation’s Racial Equity Grants given last year.

The recipients of this year’s awards – a new record-high for General Community Grants and a 66 percent increase from 2019 – are Antelope Valley Boys & Girls Club; Bridge Builders Foundation; EmpowHer Institute; Girls Club of Los Angeles; Heart of Los Angeles Youth Inc.; Social Justice Learning Institute; and Special Needs Network.

Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Marvin I. Schotland stated: “The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities in our education system that disproportionately affect students of color who lack the resources to successfully learn remotely. This only widens an already-existing education gap which will result in a significant learning loss that will take years to address.”

He continued: “The Foundation selected these outstanding programs recognizing that those closest to the communities they serve are best able to understand and respond to their needs. All of these recipient organizations are based in communities of color with demonstrated track records of service, and strong, impressive leadership.”

Beyond grant funding, The Foundation works closely with grant recipients to offer additional support including professional development, technical support, and referrals to other funders in its network. “We believe that money alone will not solve the pressing issues facing our communities,” said Mr. Schotland. “That’s why we proudly invest much time and energy engaging with our grant recipients and providing resources to help them strengthen their organizations and reach their goals.”

As part of its process to identify the recipients, The Foundation consulted with leading funders and experts in the field. This included the participation of Kaci Patterson, who leads the Black Equity Collective and who helped guide the review of prospective organizations.

About the Grant Recipients

Antelope Valley Boys & Girls Club helps young people ages 6-18 years old to reach their full potential through youth development programs that emphasize career and academic preparedness, healthy lifestyles, character, and good citizenship. Grant funds will expand Project Learn – the Club’s education and enrichment programming – increasing program hours and reducing staff-to-youth ratios at its two main program sites.

Bridge Builders Foundation (South Los Angeles) is a primarily volunteer-led nonprofit that provides educational and socio-emotional support to youth of color, particularly Black young men and boys, through its strong mentoring network, tutoring, scholarships, and focus on STEM education. Grant funding will support the growth of its Thriving Under the Influence mentoring program from three to five school site partners, expand staffing, and provide for mentor training, program supplies, and field trips.

EmpowHer Institute (Inglewood, South LA, and Gardena) provides academic support, training, and mentorship to enable girls and young women in marginalized communities to become confident, to break the cycle of poverty, and to be prepared for college and careers. Grant funding will support the expansion of EmpowHer Girls Academy and EmpowHer Leaders Academy, doubling its reach.

Girls Club of Los Angeles is an established community center that enriches the lives of underserved, at-risk boys and girls, youth and families through early education, youth development, and community outreach. Grant funds will expand the number of children served, support developing and implementing trauma-informed practices into its curriculum and, in turn, train educators at 14 early childcare centers in its Early Learning Alliance Network who serve about 3,000 children.

Heart of Los Angeles Youth Inc. is one of the premier community centers providing underserved youth in the MacArthur Park/Rampart District with high quality afterschool programs in academics, arts, athletics, and family resources. Grant funds will support program growth at a new Lafayette Park location with the capacity to nearly double the number of youth and families served each year.

Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) is dedicated to improving the education, health, and well-being of youth and communities of color. SJLI works with schools to offer its evidence-based Urban Scholars program, which supports and empowers young men of color to succeed in school and advocate for change in their communities. Grant funds will be used to support the expansion of the Urban Scholars to new sites across Los Angeles.

Special Needs Network addresses the needs of underserved youth and families of color in South Los Angeles struggling to raise a child with developmental disabilities. Grant funds will support expanded outreach, engagement, early intervention and parent/caretaker training as it launches its new Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital campus) and, through a partnership with the L.A. Unified School District, improve access to disability services for South L.A. children, students and families of color.

About The Jewish Community Foundation

Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles manages charitable assets of more than $1.4 billion entrusted to it by over 1,300 families and ranks among the 10 largest Los Angeles foundations. It partners with donors to shape meaningful philanthropic strategies, magnify the impact of their giving, and build enduring charitable legacies. In 2020, The Foundation and its donors distributed $116 million to 2,700 nonprofits with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving. Over the past 12 years, it has distributed more than $1 billion to thousands of nonprofits across a diverse spectrum.