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2014 BMIA Festival

MIA FINAL release

In a silent protest organized by Communities for Los Angeles School Success (CLASS), the education advocacy coalition that United Way of Greater Los Angeles helps to lead, 375 desks lined Beaudry Ave in front of the Los Angeles Unified School District on the morning of April 8th.

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

These desks represented the 375 students who drop out of our schools each week. Many of these kids are low-income students, English learners and foster youth. That’s why we’ve been working on educating the public about how the extra $1 billion in state funding over the next seven years must go to help those students.

See below for coverage from CLASS’ silent protest.


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys



Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

United Way Program Director Ryan Smith explained the desks represented 375 students who drop out of LAUSD every week. In order to keep kids in school and learning, Smith believes individual facilities should have control of their budgets.

“We can’t prescribe the same solution for all schools,” Smith said. “So we think it’s important that the parents and teachers closest to students can determine what’s needed.” (Source: Los Angeles Daily News)


Photo Credit: United Way of Greater Los Angeles


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Calvin Alagot

Photo Credit: Calvin Alagot

“We’re glad the drivers are upset, because we’re upset about students dropping out,” said Elmer Roldan, education program officer with United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

“The most vulnerable students should benefit from the budget.” 

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

Student Voices Matter — Did You Hear Them?

Following the silent protest, over 300 LAUSD students, including our United Way Student Fellows, flocked to the district headquarters to push for a student advisory seat on the school board. These students believe they deserve a voice in the decisions that affect their education.

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Yesterday, the school board voted to pursue the idea of a student advisory board member and further examine how the role would work, so we look forward to helping our Student Fellows as their advocacy journey continues!

See below for coverage.

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys


Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Photo Credit: Aaron Humphreys

Communities for Los Angeles School Success (CLASS) is a coalition of more than 50 parent, student, educator, community-based and civil rights organizations who have been deeply involved for decades in organizing and advocating for improvements within LAUSD that make student achievement the priority of every school in the District. Collectively, our organizations serve over 150,000 thousand families, students and teachers in Los Angeles.

Silent Protest at LAUSD – April 8 – Media Advisory

With the help of our generous corporate leaders, we are building a better Los Angeles. We regularly highlight our top corporate leaders and salute them for helping us create pathways out of poverty. United Way of Greater Los Angeles extends a huge thanks to these leaders and corporations working with us to permanently break the cycle of poverty for our most vulnerable neighbors: families, children, veterans and the homeless.

Company: Enterprise Rent-A-Car

From Left to Right: Heather Alcala, Tracy Simmons, Dave Conti, Kevin Morrissey, Jonni Wood, Sheri Vande Ven, Elise Buik and Kelly Gibson

From Left to Right: Heather Alcala, Tracy Simmons, Dave Conti, Kevin Morrissey, Jonni Wood, Sheri Vande Ven, Elise Buik and Kelly Gibson

Elise Buik, the first female President and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, was invited to speak at Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s Women’s Leadership event on March 26.  This annual event celebrates the women of Enterprise from its Car Sales, Truck Rental, Fleet Management, and Rideshare divisions in recognition for their achievements and continued dedication.  In addition to uniting the women of Enterprise from their various business backgrounds, the event also brings together a wide range of individual perspectives, with the tenure of those present ranging from two to over twenty years with Enterpirse. 

These professional women serve as leaders not only in business but for their communities as well.  As part of the day’s festivities, this group of leaders collected a substantial stockpile of supplies to be donated to previously homeless veterans in our communities.  Thank you, Enterprise, for including United Way of Greater Los Angeles in this inspiring afternoon and for your continued support and compassion to breaking the cycle of poverty in Los Angeles!

bigversion_feature_eNewsApril2014 enewsletter_march_2014 


A Look Back at #100Days

“Even though we are on the street, you shouldn’t judge us. We’re not all bad – we’re just going through a rough time,” says Tim, a 44 year-old man who has been living on the streets for five years now, and wants get a job and finish school.













Over the span of 100 days, we launched a campaign to shine a light on stories like Tim’s and the 58,000 other homeless individuals in L.A. County who don’t have a place to call home. We asked you to volunteer hours to conduct transformative interviews, to donate in support of someone’s move-in costs and to advocate online for your homeless neighbors through our 100 Days of Homelessness campaign.

Thanks to you, we exceeded our engagement goal. Over 1,000 people participated in our work to end homelessness, and we were able to raise over $68,000 in support of our work to end chronic and veteran homelessness in LA. In fact, everyone’s dollar went twice as far thanks to a generous match.

But this campaign was especially important for people like Le’Vonna, a homeless youth. The journey to permanent supportive housing for people like Le’Vonna becomes real when someone like you believes in their potential.

 Our campaign may be over, but it doesn’t mean the work stops. Please check out our #100Days site and consider donating today to bring someone Home For Good.  #UnitedForHousing


Motivating Students for Success Through Reading

Last month, in partnership with the National Education Association’s “Read Across America” program, our United Way Success By 6 in the city of Wilmington celebrated literacy, reading and books in a BIG way. By organizing 25 assemblies at six different schools, we took Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham on a book tour and read to 4,688 children in the city of Wilmington!














In addition to the mobilization of this well-known children’s book, we also sponsored 5 author visits at 5 local community based organizations and bussed 500 students from Volunteers of America and local elementary schools to a special theatrical Dr. Seuss Production at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.  

March 3rd marks the date of this annual reading motivation and awareness program and calls for every child in every community to celebrate literacy on the birthday of beloved children’s author, Dr. Seuss.

Motivating children to read is an important factor in developing student achievement and creating lifelong success. Research has shown that children who are motivated to read succeed in school. #UnitedForEducation


Union Bank Supports Financial Literacy

April is National Financial Literacy Month and United Way of Greater Los Angeles is honoring our corporate partners who support financial education throughout the year. This week we are dedicating a special salute to Union Bank whose employees dedicated nearly 7,300 hours in 2013 to educate families and individuals in low- and moderate- income areas on the importance of financial literacy.

This April, Union Bank will partner with United Way and its agencies to offer financial education programs and help parents, student and communities achieve financial success. The goal is to encourage more than 300 bank volunteers to devote more than a combined total of 4,000 volunteer hours towards the initiative.

“Financial education benefits all involved – students, Union Bank and our employees, the community, the nation and ultimately the world at large,” says Rossina Gallegos, Vice President and Foundation and Community Outreach Officer at Union Bank.

We thank Union Bank for working with United Way to help achieve our goal to increase the financial stability of individuals and families throughout Los Angeles County! #UnitedForJobs #UnitedToEndPoverty






April is National Volunteer Month and United Way of Greater Los Angeles is excited to honor our donors, volunteers and partners who tirelessly share their time and talent to help us permanently break the cycle of poverty for our most vulnerable neighbors: families, children, veterans and the homeless. 

Recognizing volunteerism is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to take action and solve problems in our community. It’s about meeting our challenges not as isolated individuals, but as individuals working together to help others and make our city a better place for everyone to thrive.










National Volunteer Month also provides a great opportunity to reflect on how much volunteerism has changed since President Nixon created the first National Volunteer Week in 1974.

Did you know?

•    Since 1989, the number of people who volunteer has increased by 60 precent?

•    Older Americans from the Baby Boom generation are 40 percent more likely to volunteer than the same age groups were in 1989?

•    Scientists have proved that giving and volunteering makes people happy?

Your efforts as a member of our family are deeply appreciated by everyone at United Way. Thank you for being a donor, an advocate and a champion for those in need- but most of all, thank you for United to End Poverty!











“101” on LCFF for Journalists Press Release


Angela Rouse recently volunteered her time as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteer to help low-income families in Los Angeles with their taxes at Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC), a United Way non-profit partner. Read more about her experience and passion to our Greater Los Angeles Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Campaign, which helps working families save money by providing access to free income tax preparation, tax credits, and information about other free financial services. Click here to become a VITA volunteer. 

Angela_Rouse_PhotoTell us a little about yourself.

I graduated from Stanford University in 2011 with a degree in economics and a minor in modern languages. After graduation, I spent two years in management consulting at Bain & Company in Chicago and am currently working at Red Bull North America in Strategic Planning. I get really excited by two things: People and outcomes. I love working together with members of my organization or other organizations to help change the way something is done or accomplish a new project. As a VITA volunteer, I’m able to apply these skills in the broader LA community.

How and why did you become a VITA volunteer?

I became a VITA volunteer because VITA is a really tangible way to give back to the community. On top of that, I enjoy meeting new people and volunteering at VITA gives me the opportunity to help out while engaging with members of the community. It feels really rewarding to help someone navigate the complexities of filing taxes and, in most cases, get a refund they can use to help their families.

How was your volunteer experience?

I’ve had a very positive experience as a VITA volunteer. I volunteer at the Koreatown Youth and Community Center(KYCC), and the staff there is very supportive and helpful.

VITA has also given me a number of opportunities for me to develop professionally. Interacting with clients requires me to be a good listener to best address the client’s questions and concerns. It also requires me to be a good communicator to help the client understand the intricacies of tax law. I’ve found the most valuable skill I’ve learned is how to describe tax credits and deductions in a way that is most relevant to each client. Some clients prefer to understand every detail of the tax return, while others would rather have their return summarized. Listening to them allows me to get an understanding of their communication style and engage with them accordingly.

Why do you think it’s important to give back to your community?

Giving back to the community is important for two reasons. First, I’m very grateful for all those who have given of their time, talents, or resources to build the communities I’ve been a part of in my life so far, and for me it seems that the only way for such programs to perpetuate is to reciprocate. Volunteering is a way for me to say thank you.

Second, I think many volunteer programs encourage different groups within the community to engage, which fosters understanding and acceptance across the community. As a teenager, I remember volunteering in a nursing home and learning so much from the residents. Similarly, I now do a lot of volunteer work with children (through Junior Achievement and KIPP) and have similarly learned quite a bit from the youngest members of the community. An open and accepting community will always be a stronger community.

Screenshot 2014-03-19 15.47.27What would you tell others who might be interested in volunteering for VITA?

First, I would encourage others to consider VITA even if they do not have a background in accounting or tax law. VITA will provide you with the training you need to understand the tax needs of the clients we serve, and the coordinators on site will provide guidance on the more difficult tax situations.

Second, I would like potential volunteers to know that the program is flexible. The training sessions can be completed online if needed, and there are opportunities to volunteer all over the city on every day of the week from January through April. You can volunteer as much as you like and all of the scheduling is done online – great for busy or unpredictable schedules!

liann 3The 1200+ advocacy letters in support of SB 391-The California Homes and Jobs Act, that United Way collected at HomeWalk 2013 were delivered this month to assembly members and will soon be sent to Governor Jerry Brown. Currently, SB 391 sits in Assembly Appropriations and needs the mobilization of California constituents to apply pressure on their local assembly members to get this act passed.  There has not been movement since August 2013, which means SB 391 advocates are working on a “6 Weeks of Action”  which includes getting petitions signed and calling, emailing and snail mailing your local assembly persons to let them know how much we want affordable homes and jobs in California.

The act, will impose a small $75 fee on real estate transactions (excluding home sales) and will help to generate upwards of $500 million dollars to help with our housing crisis in California. This funding stream will also generate 29,000 new jobs in the construction sector as well. More homes and jobs through the California Homes and Jobs Act means less tax payer dollars towards preventing and managing homelessness at a higher cost further down the road

Thank you to all 1200+ HomeWalkers who signed the letter in support of SB 391

Didn’t get a chance to sign the advocacy letterSign this petition to make homes and jobs a priority in 2014

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CLASS LCFF Rally March 18th

Pictured: Donors and advocates gathered to enjoy and exclusive screening of the groundbreaking documentary @home.

Pictured: Donors and advocates gathered to enjoy an exclusive screening of the groundbreaking documentary @home.






Documentary Screening @Home Builds Awareness, Raises Funds

@HomeScreeningPhoto2forWebIt was a first for United Way and the LA Area Chamber of Commerce’s  Home for Good Initiative – The premier of the acclaimed documentary @home at the ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood. Showcasing the hard truths of living on the streets through the personal stories of people experiencing homelessness across the nation, @home delivered the clear message that ending homelessness can and should be a reality.

Not only did @home deliver a voice for the 58,000 homeless individuals in our county, but its emotional impact helped raise almost $10,000, including a generous match from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation,  that will help support permanent housing solutions for those in need.  Over 100 donors and advocates were in attendance and were able to hear from the film’s once homeless subject, Mark Horvath, and other panel members, including, United Way supporter and volunteer Marti McFall, and Home For Good Business Leaders Task Force Co-Chair, Jerry Neuman.

The event was one of many ongoing programs to support United Way’s goal to end chronic and veteran homelessness by 2016. Thank you to all of our donors who have contributed to our work. With your continued support, we can get closer to reaching our goal. To donate, please click here.





Advocating for Student Education Needs



As part of our goal to reach a minimum graduation rate of 75% in L.A. County, United Way and seven premiere organizations have founded the Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS).  CLASS is a broad-based coalition of over fifty civil rights, parent, teacher, community-based and education organizations dedicated to ensuring that all students receive an equitable education.

CLASS  launched its first campaign that advocates that California’s new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) will directly benefit LAUSD students who have been at a structural and educational disadvantage for years: low income students, foster youth and English language learners.  United Way with CLASS believes that the additional $1.1 billion that is coming to LAUSD because of the large population of high needs students must go directly to the schools with the highest concentrations of need. When the money intended to support these high needs students goes directly to their schools, we can begin to close the staggering achievement gap across the district and ensure that all children receive an equitable, quality education.

United Way and our community partners have organized a grassroots movement around LCFF. Through a series of  town hall meetings in all seven board districts of LAUSD, we have led a massive outreach effort to almost 1,000 teachers, parents, students, community members, and faith-based leaders. In addition, we are driving a petition that has gained over 3,500 signatures from supporters.

Please Join the Movement!

A press conference and rally will be held on March 18th outside of the LAUSD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. More than 150 advocates from across the district will demand that the Superintendent and Board prioritize the students that need the most help when making budget decisions!


Email for more information on LCFF  and the upcoming events. You can also check out the new CLASS Facebook page for photos and updates!




Reaching the Unbanked and Underserved Across America 

TriAnnualPhotoforWebIn partnership with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation  (FDIC) and the Los Angeles Alliance for Economic Inclusion (AEI),  United Way hosted a convening of 60 AEI members, including  major banks, city, county, state agencies,  and United Way partner organizations.  As part of a national initiative to establish broad-based coalitions of financial institutions, community-based organizations and other partners in several markets across the country, the convening helped drive the mission to bring all unbanked and underserved populations into the financial mainstream by expanding basic retail financial services, including savings accounts, affordable remittance products, small-dollar loan programs, targeted financial education programs, and other asset-building programs, for underserved populations.

Currently,  15% of L.A. County’s population lives in poverty, meaning individuals and families often have to choose between paying the rent, buying food or seeking medical care. Helping these individuals overcome economic barriers, such as lack of liquidity to carry account balances and lack of basic banking knowledge, can help maintain the financial viability of low-income populations across the county.  By accessing the mainstream financial system, these households can build savings and improve their credit-risk profiles in order to lower their cost of payment services, eliminate a common source of personal stress, and gain access to basic financial services that promote asset accumulation.

As part of our overall mission to permanently break the cycle of poverty for our most vulnerable neighbors, United Way is a proud participant in the Alliance for Economic Inclusion. We would also like to recognize our corporate partner, Bank of America, for their support of the initiative, helping us achieve a mutual goal to strengthen the financial stability of low-income families and veterans in Los Angeles County.

For more information, please call:  213-808-6282 or email:






It’s no secret that with the right ingredients, campaign kick-off events will be a huge success!  We would like to recognize our friends at O’Melveny & Myers for being an outstanding United Way community supporter.  All you need is a little food, great people, a heartfelt message, and a fun theme to support the important work United Way does to create pathways out of poverty for our most vulnerable neighbors!  Members of the O’Melveny & Myers Los Angeles office brought their campaign to life by empowering the real ‘Super Heroes’ of our community, our donors. 

Thank you O’Melveny! With the help of generous corporate leaders, like you, we are building a better Los Angeles!