The Gloria B. Lee Endowment provides a small cohort of talented, at-risk youth who have lived in poverty with financial and academic support to obtain an undergraduate degree in STEM related or education fields.

Who is eligible and how are students selected?

Students who are recent graduates or are seniors in the Learning Works program or LA’s Promise are eligible for consideration. Students are then selected based on:

  • Leadership qualities
  • Ability to work as a team player
  • Academic accomplishments
  • Having a goal to achieve a STEM related degree or an education degree
  • Having a serious commitment to improving their life
  • The ability and willingness to work hard and make sacrifices to change their life
  • A commitment to receiving support from others and offering support to others
  • An understanding and belief that we are “better together”

Students must complete a self-reflective assessment to help determine what barriers are present that may prevent attaining a post-secondary degree so that they may be addressed head-on in the program if they are selected.

What does the program provide?

Students who are granted a place in this program are provided:

  • Financial support to supplement available grants and scholarships to cover 100% of actual costs by reimbursement for:
  • Transportation such as bus passes
  • Tuition
  • Textbooks
  • Exposure to experiences outside the student’s community, positive adults
  • Hands-on opportunities to transition to post-secondary education while working towards a career when possible

How does the community benefit from this program?

This program provides important baseline input for future research on how best to help talented, at-risk youth complete college, while functioning together within a supportive community.  The experiences gained over the course of the program will also help to evaluate to what degree such a community may improve the academic outcomes of the entire group.

How are students expected to behave towards each other?

Students in the cohort will be the first line of defense, support, and accountability for each other, whether those supports are academic, financial, social or emotional.

What is a mentor/leader?

The program includes a mentor / leader who will be available to set the cultural tone, define goals and expectations. He or she will make sure students are on track, help resolve common issues and provide funding and access to external resources where needed.

Where do students start?

The initial entry point for students in the cohort will be the community college system. Additional support from a mentor and other students is essential for success since community colleges do not have the culture that supports student success in the same way a four-year university might.

Much of the non-financial support for this program will come through Homeboy Industries which already offers a number of programs that are critical to student success including employment services, anger management, personal development, health, and substance abuse programs.

Learning Works also offers a number of critical supports that the scholarship program can take advantage of, including tutoring, financial aid and academic counseling to facilitate on-track progression through college.

What does Learning Works do?

Learning Works turns high school dropouts into graduates. Our mission is to provide a personalized, rigorous academic program and relevant life skills to traditionally underserved students in grades 7-12 who have withdrawn or are in danger of withdrawing from mainstream education without attaining a high school diploma. To clarify, the youth we serve would inaccurately be called “at-risk.” They are, in fact, “in crisis” or have already demonstrated a behavior or condition that exceeds “at-risk” such as becoming pregnant or dropping out of school or entering the juvenile delinquency system.

Our target population is in-school and out-of-school dropouts, probation youth who are credit deficient, students who are expelled from school, and pregnant teens/teen mother students. Seventy-one percent of our students are Hispanic, 22% African American, 4% White and 3% Other. Our students are 20% English Learners (EL), 13% Special Education, and 99% eligible for National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Our school is 47% male and 53% female with 23% of the female students pregnant or raising a child. We accept expelled students (5%) and probation youth (31%).

Our school enrolls 400 students who are 14-20 years old who have been re-engaged and are working toward a high school diploma. All of our students come to us extremely credit deficient.

What is LA Promise?

Working through a network of high-performing, community-based schools and a portfolio of programs that reach students throughout LA County, the LA Promise Fund creates vibrant community hubs and partnerships that foster motivated, engaged, and directed students poised for academic, professional, and personal success.

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