Garcetti Joins YPI, LAUSD Board and Nonprofits to Announce $78 Million for LA Kids’ College Dreams

Garcetti Joins YPI, LAUSD Board and Nonprofits to Announce $78 Million for LA Kids’ College Dreams

December 12, 2018
Sonia Torres



$18 million grant to YPI/Bright Star will boost thousands of kids from middle school into college

(LOS ANGELES)—Mayor Eric Garcetti joined middle school and college students, along with LAUSD Board Members and local education leaders to announce nearly $78 million in Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grants for Los Angeles.

“A child’s ZIP code should never be a barrier to the dream of a college education, and GEAR UP helps put that goal in reach for thousands of young Angelenos,” said Mayor Garcetti. “With this year’s record-breaking grants, students across our City will receive the guidance and support they need to get into college, earn their degrees, and chart their course into the middle class.”

The grants will offer free tutoring, college and career counseling, financial aid advice, and other college readiness services to more than 14,000 students. The program is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Thirty official partners—including 9 Southern California universities—secured $78 million to boost the chances that over 14,000 vulnerable middle school students, supported over seven years, will earn college degrees.

“Thanks to this grant, over 14,000 students will benefit from direct support that will help them navigate the process of applying for college and preparing for success once they enroll,” said L.A. Unified Board Representative Kelly Gonez. “At L.A. Unified, we know that it’s not enough to get our students to the high school graduation stage — we need to ensure our students are prepared to succeed in college and careers.”

The Youth Policy Institute in partnership with Bright Star Schools will oversee $18 million to support students in 32 schools. This grant represents YPI’s third cohort of GEAR UP schools.

“Reach students where they are, treat their schools as extensions of their communities, offer them the tools to succeed and they will shine,” said Dixon Slingerland, President & CEO of the Youth Policy Institute, which together with Bright Star will provide college counseling services and other academic supports through the GEAR UP grant, in addition to administering the grant overall. “From the Eastside to the Valley, students in GEAR UP classes consistently demonstrate dramatic test score gains. With this grant, we’re proud to add another college-bound cohort to the thousands of kids who know that when they see obstacles on the path to success, there are helping hands to clear the way.”

GEAR UP provides a site coordinator at each school, who will follow a class from sixth through 12th grade, offering trips to college campuses, financial aid information, one-on-one mentoring, individualized tutoring, personal career exploration, and additional direct services that will help them prepare for college and apply to postsecondary programs.

“GEAR UP is a group that teaches you there is no challenge you cannot get through,” said Brittany Lupercio, a 7thgrade student at Vaughn M.I.T. charter school and GEAR UP participant. “I have always struggled to face my challenges, but by joining GEAR UP, I have acquired many skills that have helped me face them.”

Each GEAR UP collaborative is comprised of a formal partnership with at least one middle school, one high school, a higher education institution, the school board, and at least two community-based organizations. Partners implement grant activities and ensure that the momentum of college access work continues beyond the seven-year grant.

The effects have been visible across YPI’s two existing GEAR UP cohorts, the classes of 2020 and 2021, who have shown rising grade point averages and substantial proficiency gains in math and English language arts.

This is the largest GEAR UP grant awarded in Los Angeles since the GEAR UP initiative began in 1999. In addition to YPI’s award, the remainder of the $78 million will be administered by the GEAR UP 4 LA working group inside the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Through the YPI grant, GEAR UP will expand to 11 new schools, and will add a class cohort in four more. Those include, respectively, Berendo Middle School, Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School, Rise Kohyang Middle and High Schools, Valor Middle School and High Schools, and five of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, including the Ambassador School of Global Leadership, the Los Angeles High School of the Arts, the School for the Visual Arts and Humanities, and the UCLA Community School. It will add a class cohort at four schools, Vista Middle School, Sepulveda Middle School, Monroe High School and Panorama High School.

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For over 30 years, Youth Policy Institute (YPI) has been breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. YPI reaches more than 115,000 youth and adults annually at 137 program sites in Los Angeles. YPI is the only agency in the country to have been awarded all three signature White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives: Promise Neighborhoods, Choice Neighborhoods, and Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation; and is the lead implementation partner for the Los Angeles Promise Zone. Together, these initiatives form a place-based approach to fighting poverty, reducing crime, improving educational opportunities, and creating access to jobs that builds on YPI’s decades of history helping youth and families. . For more information, visit

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