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Los Angeles magazine
Los Angeles magazine is the leading authority and indispensable guide for the affluent and influential population of Southern California, illuminating and chronicling one of the most important regions of the world.
A Better LA
Hundreds of thousands of families in Los Angeles live in fear from the moment their children leave the door for school in the morning — that they may not return safely. It is unacceptable. Street violence impacts every facet of our communities. Children avoid school or cannot focus on it, they do not feel safe playing in a park or traveling to any activity, businesses refuse to set up shop leading to a lack of economic opportunity, and thousands suffer from trauma at levels comparable to war zones.
A Better LA is at the forefront of a new approach to solving the challenge of violence, its root causes and its domino impact in the inner-city. We fund, train and empower outreach workers, many of whom are former gang members who have turned their lives around, to be at the schools, in the parks and on the streets to keep our kids safe. We also integrate these outreach workers with a diverse team of police officers (the LAPD and Sheriff’s Department are close partners), community leaders, psychologists, teachers – the entire community, with the understanding that it takes a team to keep our kids safe. This team is able to connect with our hardest-to-reach kids and engage them with services to give them positive alternatives to gangs, and to give them hope.
We have brought together people who used to be mortal enemies under our umbrella as colleagues. Homicides are at record lows in Los Angeles and down in every area that A Better LA focuses on. In addition, we have engaged hundreds of young people in social services and positive activities, and met needs like food, clothes and holiday toys, for tens of thousands of residents. Just a few of our results:
Reduced Violence: Homicides in four target areas dropped 91%, 55%, 77% and 20% since we started in 2007-2008. Dozens of lives have been saved, creating a sense of normalcy and safety.
Building a Network of Peacekeepers: We have trained over 350 workers from 92 neighborhoods around LA. Many were mortal enemies for decades, now working together as colleagues under our umbrella. Sustainable peace looks more realistic all of the time.
Mentoring and Connecting Youth: Over 3,500 youth each year are impacted, through direct programs like youth football, soccer and baseball, a homework club, field trips, safe passages to school, informal mentoring and referrals to social services.
Events and Basic Needs: Over 30,000 people per year are impacted through park events and food and/or toy hand-outs.
We support 50 outreach workers and service providers who provide life skills, sports activities, tutoring and field trips, a training institute and centralized structure for the workers, two community centers, a community collaborative task force, dozens of community events and food handouts.
Our goal is to create a model for transforming inner-cities in a comprehensive manner. We believe that the problems of inner-cities are similar around the nation and even the world, and that the solutions are also extraordinarily similar. One of the biggest mistakes of the past in the world of social services has been to isolate groups of people who struggle with violence. Our strategy is to engage and empower empower them. If they were the problem, then they also need to be the solution.