Communities Schools of Los Angeles Honors

Launched in 2007, Community in Schools of Los Angeles (http://www.cislosangeles.org) aims to do all that it can to improve the lives of underserved, low-income youth, empowering them to stay in school and go to college.

Present in 12 high schools in Los Angeles, ranging from Mark Twain Middle School in Venice to South Los Angeles’ Jefferson High School, Communities in Schools of Los Angeles, a local branch of the nationwide org Community in Schools Inc., provides myriad services for students and their families, including tutoring, anger-management classes, counseling and field trips to colleges and post-secondary institutions in order to encourage them to apply and enroll. Communities in Schools of Los Angeles also offers support against bullying, pizza parties and places site coordinators at schools to organize local services for those in need.

“Eighty percent of students in L.A. Unified (School District) are living below the poverty line,” says executive director Deborah Marcus. “That’s something that people don’t realize.”

“It is incumbent upon all of us to make sure all kids thrive,” says Michelle Kydd Lee, founder of CAA Foundation, Communities in Schools of Los Angeles’ largest corporate sponsor and supporter.

On April 29, Communities in Schools of Los Angeles will honor the philanthropic achievements of Lee, Donna Weiss, founding board chair of Communities in Schools in Los Angeles, and Dana Henry, program director of the org, at a fete held at the home of CAA president Richard Lovett. The event, presented by CAA and Entertainment Industry Foundation, counts Nancy Moonves, J.J. Abrams and PR exec wife Katie McGrath among those on its host committee.

A graduating student from the inaugural class will also be in attendance at the event. (Thanks to its diligent work, 96% of seniors graduated in 2013, compared to the district’s 64% graduation rate.)

“Our job is to surround students with a community of support which is to empower them with information so they can be successful in life,” Marcus says. “I get most excited when kids take the information and become advocates for that and their community.”

Lee says that bearing witness to students’ success stories is an immeasurably gratifying experience.

“We are the luckiest people in the world,” she declares.

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