Two University of Southern California students have launched an Indiegogo campaign in hopes of raising $10,000 by Aug. 10 so Los Angeles Community High School will be able to reopen for the 2012-13 school year and continue to serve its 35 students.
Located in Watts -- an area that ranks among the worst in California in school dropout rate, crime and poverty -- L.A. Community High School is a private credentialed alternative school for teens that have been kicked out or have dropped out of high school. It was founded in 1995 by Kimi Lent, a former kindergarten teacher-turned-gang expert, and Fred Smith, who grew up in the projects of Watts.
According to the campaign’s description, Lent and Smith take a holistic approach to education -- focusing not just on academics, but also social, moral and physical health. They write letters to courts on behalf of their students, and work directly with probation officers in an effort to assist with rehabilitation.
As students at nearby University of Southern California, Eric Johnson and Hunter Kubryk say they “often turn a blind eye to the constant struggle of our neighbors.” In addition to setting up an Indiegogo page, Johnson and Kubryk released a corresponding video that showcases the positive impact LACHS has had on the lives of its students.
According to the video, 38.4 percent of students did not graduate high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2012. By comparison, L.A. Community High boasts a 93 percent graduation rate, with nearly all of these students being first-generation high school graduates. Of its graduates who were once involved in the criminal justice system, 79 percent are now employed, in job training or attending college. To date, the alternative school has graduated 641 teens and adults with high school diplomas.
LACHS is registered with the State of California’s Board of Education in collaboration with the Los Angeles Computer Science Academy, and is part of the non-profit Community Restoration Services. The school has run out of funding, however, and must close its doors for the upcoming school year unless the appropriate funds are raised. $10,000 is necessary by Aug. 10 in order to prepare for a Sept. 4 opening day, with an additional $20,000 required by the first of October, December and March to keep L.A. Community High School operating through 2012-13.
Thus far the campaign has raised nearly $600 and will remain open through Aug. 17.