News « United Way of Greater Los Angeles

At the end of this year, current Superintendent of LAUSD schools, Ramon Cortines, is retiring. The LAUSD school board is already in the process of finding his replacement. The superintendent plays a critical role in driving the academic success of the students of Los Angeles. This individual must be a champion for high-needs children and their families.

CLASS is hopeful that the Board, as public servants to the communities they serve, will select someone who is collaborative, solution-driven and student focused. We also request that the Board does not make their decision in isolation, and they uphold all opportunities to engage with other leaders and stakeholders when weighing the candidates.

Read the Full Letter Here

Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) is a coalition of parent, student, educator, community-based and civil rights organizations that, since its inception, is dedicated to ensuring all students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) receive an equitable, high-quality public education. The coalition, through its ten core organizations and over 60 network partners, represents over 150,000 constituents. For more information, visit and access the press release here.












Photo by LA Times

Statement from Elise Buik, President & CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Re: State of Emergency on Homelessness in Los Angeles

Since United Way began our efforts to end homelessness in 2007, we have, along with our non-profit partners, been working with elected officials, public sector, philanthropic and business leaders, to build a collaborative public-private partnership to address this crisis. Over the past four years, our community partners have successfully housed 23,399 chronic and veteran homeless. This work clearly demonstrates that homelessness is a solvable problem, if we make the right strategic investments, specifically in permanent housing. We have also seen unprecedented levels of political will, through the leadership of Mayor Garcetti, key members of City Council, and Supervisors Kuehl & Ridley-Thomas, and their colleagues on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. United Way applauds the significant commitment that the City of Los Angeles made yesterday of over $100 million in new funding. We are extremely encouraged and optimistic about this announcement, as it comes at a time of tremendous political leadership at both the City and County. County leadership has dedicated millions of dollars of County resources to end homelessness, through programs like their Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, and they are in the process of exploring additional strategies and resources that could also be dedicated to the effort. United Way is working collaboratively with the City, County, LAHSA, and Home For Good partners to identify specific and concrete action steps, resources, and policies at both the City and County levels. We look forward to partnering with our elected leaders in the coming months to finalize these integrated strategies to help bring a true end to homelessness for all Angelenos.

Press Release
Media Contact:
Lotta Rao

New study finds that LAUSD has shifted towards more equitable spending for high-need students, but improvements still need to be made to Local Control Funding Formula

LOS ANGELES, September 17th 2015 – Two years ago, Governor Jerry Brown drastically changed the way California schools receive state funding for high-need students. The new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) recognized that students in foster care, English-Language Learners and those living in poverty, required additional funds. The passing of LCFF represented a historic opportunity in the state of California to improve the public education system for the highest-needs students.

“After years of inequitable funding, LCFF gave us an immense sense of hope that our highest need students would have the resources needed to meaningfully engage in their education. Along with our parent and student leaders on the Eastside, we were ready to support LAUSD in investing these additional dollars in a community that has long dealt with inadequate public investments,” said Maria Brenes, Executive Director, InnerCity Struggle.

Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) is a coalition of parent, student, educator, community-based and civil rights organizations that is dedicated to ensuring all students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) receive an equitable, high-quality public education. The coalition, through its ten core organizations and over 60 network partners, represents over 150,000 constituents.

During the 2014-2015 school year, LCFF generated $820 million of new funds. In this current school year, LCFF will generate close to $1.1 billion additional funds. CLASS published its first LCFF Community Report Card to analyze and report on how LAUSD actually invested the additional $820 million of LCFF funding during the 2014-2015 school year. The report card can be downloaded here:

The report finds that LAUSD has taken valuable steps in holding true to the spirit of LCFF, but the researchers found a lack of an effective strategy to improve the outcomes of high-needs students. Investments such as instructional aides for English Learners, the funding of new programs dedicated to aiding children in foster care, and dedicated funding for restorative justice programs are examples of direct investments that provide new or enhanced services for the students prioritized by LCFF.

The report’s other finding was that LAUSD could have done a better job investing LCFF funds to support high-poverty students and responding to community demands for targeted, equitable investments. Specifically, the report found that:

  • Only 18% ($145 million) of the LCFF’s $820 million additional funding was set aside for specific investment in high needs students. This $145 million represents only 3% of the overall LAUSD budget for the 2014-2015 school year– $6.4 billion dollars.
  • The District prioritized re-staffing positions cut during the recession, rather than positions benefitting high-needs students.
  • Principals, teachers, parents, and students remain unclear about the intention of LCFF dollars.

“For the last two years, I have fought for the District to keep the promise of LCFF—we collected thousands of petitions in support of the Equity is Justice Resolution, and we won. I am glad they applied it to some of the funding, but I want to see it applied to all of the dollars that myself and other high-needs students brought in,” said Jathan Melendez, student at Manual Arts High School.

Although the report highlighted some incremental progress that has been made by LAUSD, community groups are calling upon the District to focus funding on closing the access and opportunity gaps that English Learners, students living in poverty, and those in the child welfare system have persistently faced in this district, specifically that District leadership consider:

  • That the $1.1 billion dollars that high-needs students generate for the coming year go to directly support those students;
  • That this direct support is distributed to schools through a formula (known as the Student Needs Index) that takes into account the number of high-needs students at each school site and their rates of academic success; and
  • Train principals and administrators to use their flexible LCFF dollars strategically; understand expectations on amount and use of all LCFF funds; and proactively engages parents, students, and teachers in the decision-making process.

“We are committed to working with LAUSD to ensure the dollars that high-needs students generate are invested back into their education. Governor Brown’s measure was intended to create pathways out of poverty for our high-needs students, and we are working with our partners throughout the District and community to make sure that happens,” said Elise Buik, President & CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

The report was commissioned by CLASS and conducted by the University of California, Berkeley and funded by the California Endowment, California Community Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund and United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

LCFF Y2 Report Card

LCFF Y2 Executive Summary

About Communities for Los Angeles Student Success
Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) is a coalition of parent, student, educator, community-based and civil rights organizations that, since its inception, is dedicated to ensuring all students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) receive an equitable, high-quality public education. The coalition, through its ten core organizations including United Way of Greater Los Angeles and over 60 network partners, represents over 150,000 constituents. For more information, visit

About United Way of Greater Los Angeles
United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty by helping homeless people move into housing, providing students with the support they need to graduate high school prepared for college and the workforce, and helping hard-working families become financially stable. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change. For more information, visit


On Wednesday, September 9th, Workplace Ambassadors from 40 companies gathered at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles Headquarters to gear up for the campaign season!

To kick off the event, Chris Carey, CFO and Vice President of City National Bank, discussed why he supports United Way. He highlighted his passion for ending homelessness and called upon leaders in the business community to continue giving back.



Led by the Development Staff, our Workplace Ambassadors held a discussion about why they care about Los Angeles County and why they are ambassadors for United Way.



The Vice President of Development at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Mario Marin acknowledged this group of passionate individuals and thanked them for going above and beyond to support their United Way community.



Four company experts were invited to speak on best practices that have made their campaigns successful.


Michelle Benner, Campaign Chair and Digital Associate Brand Manager at Neutrogena discussed strategies she has used to gear up before the campaign begins:



Elaine Vilchez, Campaign Chair, Emerging Leader, and Shipping and Receiving Supervisor at Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc. shared best practices to utilize during the campaign:



Lupe Viramontes, Former Campaign Chair, Emerging Leader, Senior Buyer/Planner at Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc. discussed tips and tricks to use after the campaign ends:



Sarah Hardin, Vice Chair of the Emerging Leader Cabinet and Corporate Citizenship Manager at Deloitte, shared strategies for engaging employees year-round:



Workplace Ambassador Trainer, Charlotte Nguyen, gave the audience a foundation to build their pitch and delivered a session on tips to making a successful “ask.”



Participants had the opportunity to review their results from last year’s campaign with the Development Operations Officer, Claire Kitayama, while Nuka Solomon, Director of Major Gifts, discussed exciting opportunities for involvement with United Way’s Affinity Groups!



“You are the center of our work!”


The afternoon ended with Zondre Johnson, a CSH “Speak Up” Advocate and formerly homeless neighbor, who shared a personal testimony that moved the audience to tears. Having been homeless since the age of 14, Zondre never thought she would ever have a place to call home. Now 53, she is a resident of a permanent supportive housing development and works with CSH, a funded partner of United Way, to share her story and inspire others to take action. She opened up to the audience, saying, “this building is not big enough for the people who can say ‘thank you,’ so I’ll say it for them: thank you for being here. Thank you for being an ambassador. Thank you for taking it back to your office and making a difference.



“My voice matters, my story matters, my life matters. People matter.”




Zondre’s testimony ended with continuous applause and a standing ovation.

Thank you to all who participated in this enlightening day and for your tireless commitment to ending poverty in Los Angeles County!

On Thursday, July 23rd, we celebrated our Leadership donors creating pathways out of poverty for the past 10 years!

During the event, Julia Vincock, a proud US Army Veteran, shared her story of overcoming homelessness.  In 2012, Julia was evicted from her apartment of 17 years and lost all her belongings.  When she came across Union Station Homeless Services, a United Way of Greater Los Angeles partner, she shared, “On that day, I regained my hope completely. I felt it was possible for me to have a home again.”

Julia Vincock_sharegraphic_FINAL

Since then, she obtained a housing voucher, got approved for permanent housing and received the funding to cover her security deposit.

On any given night in LA, 4,362 veterans do not have a safe place to call home.  Our Leadership donors are not only bringing an end to veteran homelessness in LA County, but are also restoring hope for all vets.


Learn about JC Whitney’s Centennial Sweepstakes! Proceeds will support our work in creating pathways out of poverty for veterans in need.


On Tuesday, June 23rd, 40 Emerging Leaders of Los Angeles County gathered for a night of networking at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles headquarters to learn how an innovative executive advanced in his career by pursuing his passions.

Caitlin Crosby, Founder and CEO of The Giving Keys, hosted the event and interviewed the 2015 CEO Spotlight headliner, Brad Schwartz, President of Pop TV Network. Brad spoke about his start as Lorne Michael’s assistant on SNL before being asked to start MTV Canada from scratch. By taking risks and always aiming to do the extraordinary, at the age of 43, Brad became President of Pop, his sixth network to re-brand or launch.

“Work hard. Impress your boss. Be nice to people. Learn how to follow before wanting to lead. You can’t Google how to be a CEO.”

— Brad Schwartz

By the end of the night, there were 68 attendees, who learned about bringing passion into their careers and becoming true leaders in Los Angeles County.

Ben Lewis, Area Sales Manager of the Southern CA District of UPS and Chair of the Emerging Leaders Cabinet, acknowledged this young group of professionals who give a minimum of $1,000 annually to United Way’s Creating Pathways out of Poverty fund.




On Thursday, June 18th, United Way of Greater Los Angeles Student Leader, Miriam Antonio, a senior at Fairfax High School, was featured as a Cool Kid on ABC 7. Hear why and how she is creating change within the community:

Get to know some of our other Student Leaders here!

On June 9, 2015, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board voted unanimously for the Equity on A-G Resolution; a recommitment – co-sponsored by board members Monica Garcia, Steve Zimmer and George McKenna. The A-G college sequence is a series of 15 courses that students must pass in order to receive a high school diploma and meet requirements for the CSU/UC college systems.

Ten years ago, the LAUSD made a promise to provide all students access to courses that would enable them to attend a four-year university or pursue a technical career. Now the District is one step closer to aligning its high school graduation and college entrance requirements, and we celebrate this hard-won victory for students.

The United Way Student Leaders and nearly four hundred coalition members gathered outside the LAUSD headquarters in support of the resolution.


A new recommitment to A-G coursework means that students will continue to have access to A-G on their high school campus. It also means that the District is now tasked with monitoring student A-G progress and researching which high school A-G programs work. Student success will largely require that the District provide needed student and teacher supports and interventions in order to ensure that student’s successfully complete the coursework. Thanks to the unwavering work of this coalition of more than 51 grassroots organizations, students who are “off track” for A-G, will get the services that they require – such as counselors, credit recovery programs and online courses – in order to pass these classes.

We expect that the LAUSD will soon lift the standards to the “C” grade or better requirement. This will ensure that all students have access to the highest quality education and receive a meaningful diploma.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released the results of the 2015 Homeless Count.  This information, together with data from Long Beach, Pasadena, and Glendale, gives us a snapshot of the current homelessness landscape in LA County.

Numbers at a Glance


This data marks a pivotal point in our work to end homelessness in LA County and, more specifically, end veteran homelessness in 2015.

Since launching the Home for Good Action Plan in 2011 we have permanently housed 12,818 veterans. However, the data shows that we simply need to work harder and faster.  In order to meet our goal to end veteran homelessness by the end of the year, we need to more than double the rate we have been housing veterans so far this year. With your support, we know we can do this.

Our valued donors, partners, and community members are the key to ensuring that we can reach our goal in this homestretch and we thank you for the progress we have made so far. We cannot stop there.

We see bright spots in our county, with cities like Pasadena and Long Beach reducing veteran homelessness by over 50% in the last two years. Let’s rally to work together for our brave service women and men.

Take Action

Give: We have a funding gap of $1 million. Vets have rental vouchers, but not the funding they need to pay for a security deposit and other move in costs.  Click here to donate.

Advocate: Work with your local communities to advocate for permanent housing in your neighborhoods.  Send a letter in support of an Act that will increase affordable housing resources in California. Click here to learn more.

Volunteer: Your time to help spread the word has more of an impact than you think. Share this with your social networks. You may also find local teams working to find homes for those who are eligible. To learn more, please click here.

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