Keep up to date with our newsletter
Today, we’re launching a NEW website and video for our 100 Days of Homelessness Campaign. It features real stories of real people that you’re helping. But there’s always more work to do. Give today and your donation will be matched! #100Days
We were proud to host the 1st Annual Inspirational Teacher Awards on January 23rd at REDCAT downtown, where we honored LAUSD’s exemplary educators. United Way’s Education Team and a panel of educators selected 25 teachers from hundreds of nominees. The winners were chosen for their exceptional leadership in ensuring that students are given every opportunity to achieve academic and extracurricular excellence.
Community and civic leaders including Mayor Garcetti, Superintendent Deasy and United Way CEO and President Elise Buik participated in the evening’s program. Each conveyed the impact a great teacher can have on a student’s life.
“As we are working to ensure that every child has a high-quality public education, we really know that teachers are the magic ingredient in making that happen,” said Elise.
United Way is pleased to honor these inspirational teachers as a kick off to a new initiative, as part of our goal of increasing the graduation rate in L.A. County to a minimum of 75%. Emphasizing excellence in teaching, United Way has launched a Teachers To Watch campaign that will recognize 50-100 teachers across L.A. County, broadly publicizing their success in the classroom and their impact on student achievement.
United Way will continue to celebrate teachers and school site staff in Los Angeles, as they are a cornerstone to enhancing the lives of the next generation of leaders. #EducateOurFuture
In partnership with Bank of America, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way was pleased to kick off the 2014 EITC campaign to offer working families access to free income tax assistance. Last year, volunteers provided free tax preparation services to over 42,000 families in Los Angeles County, helping them claim over $45 million in total tax returns.
Bank of America is a long-time sponsor of the EITC program in Greater Los Angeles and was recognized at this month’s kick-off press conference with Mayor Eric Garcetti. Raul Anaya, Bank of America’s Market President, spoke at the conference reiterating the bank’s commitment to increasing the financial stability of working families in our community.
We salute Bank of America for its continuing support of asset building and financial literacy programs that promote economic empowerment and growth for low-income families. For more information about free tax preparation services in Los Angeles County, please visit www.freetaxhelpla.org. #BuildYourNest
Thank you Transamerica!
Our friends at Transamerica Retirement Solutions recently hosted a national employee conference in San Diego, California and invited United Way of Greater Los Angeles to help coordinate their project to assemble over 250 ‘Basic Needs Kits’ for our veteran neighbors.
Support from our corporate partners, like TransAmerica, is crucial to United Way’s success to reduce veteran unemployment and homelessness and demonstrates a true commitment to creating pathways out of poverty for our most vulnerable neighbors.
Thank you Transamerica for supporting our work to help veterans!
MYTH: All homeless people are mentally unstable.
FACT: While mental illness is a serious issue for those living on our streets, only 30% of the homeless in LA County actually have a mental illness. This is only slightly more than the general population of America, where 1 in 5 confront some kind of mental health issue in their lifetime.
MYTH: Even if they don’t have a mental illness, they are all on drugs right?
FACT: No, in fact only 3 in 10 people experiencing homelessness actually have a substance abuse issue. Some of those within this group of users has also turned to drugs as a way to self medicate due to a larger, untreated mental health issue.
MYTH: When I see someone on the streets, I am afraid. People with mental illness are dangerous.
FACT: There is no reason to be unnaturally afraid when you see someone on the streets. Majority of people you see do not have a mental illness. Even those with mental illness are no more likely to cause you harm than the average person you pass. In fact, people with mental illness are 10 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime than to commit one.
Home For Good supports many organizations working to provide comprehensive services to those who need them and works closely with policymakers to ensure that those who need mental health services are reached. Below are just a few of Home For Good’s partners working to provide mental health services to those on our streets that need it:
COMING UP NEXT: Stay tuned the rest of our blog series on mental health! In the coming weeks, we will discuss the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act, spotlight the story of those with mental illness, and highlight the work of some of our great partners.
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: Transamerica Retirement Solutions
Our friends at Transamerica Retirement Solutions hosted a national employee conference in San Diego, California and continued their work for a better community! We were proud and honored to be a part of their special day and helped to coordinate the assembly of ‘Basic Needs Packets’ for Veterans.
We were astounded to see so many teams at Transamerica roll up their sleeves and use their muscles to assemble, audit, and count over 250 bags for our neighbor veterans. Things like shampoo, chap stick, deodorant, and soap are just a few of the items packed by our volunteers. Thank you Transamerica, Veterans Village of San Diego, and United Way of San Diego County! We are happy to bring so many together for this fantastic event to help our veterans!
Company: Trust Company of the West
We are so proud of our friends at Trust Company of the West who have gone above and beyond to exceed all campaign goals! You have made a difference in your workplace, your community, and in our hearts. Thank you TCW for all your support through this year’s campaign, your involvement at our record breaking HomeWalk 2013, and your dedication to improving the Los Angeles community by helping those in our communities who need you most!
My Experience & Reason…
By: Daniel Castilleja
Never judge a man till you have been in his shoes. You know that they are so quick to look away, because it’s the easy thing to do. This is what I live by today.
What I do now is volunteer for causes I believe in, and one of them is to end homelessness in L.A. and the rest of the World. When I was asked by S.R.O.to participate & represent them at the United Way HomeWalk, I was honored and excited. I raised about $700 on my own, and was told later that I was the top fundraiser for Team S.R.O. It was good to know, but that is not the reason why I asked for donations. It was to help United Way raise money to end homelessness in L.A.
I was homeless about 2 ½ years ago, due to losing my job. I slept in my Land Rover, and then eventually lost it due to not paying the tickets I would get for parking in places I could sleep at. After losing my vehicle, I found an apartment complex and slept in the stairwell with only the clothes I had on. Days went by without eating and showering. I remember how people would look at me with ugly looks and would say comments that would make me feel even lesser than I already did. A smile or a nice comment makes your day a lot better than a dirty look or bad comment.
I now live in a beautiful apartment complex called The James Woods Apartments in Skid row, owned by S.R.O. Housing. I see homeless people every day I step out of my building, and as always I smile and say good morning. I just want them to know that I’m not judging them and that I’m not like the people that don’t speak to them because they are homeless. I offer my help by doing little things like when I save my aluminum cans and pass them out, or when I have clothes, shoes or sometimes food and a little extra change, I can afford to give out.
If you knew me, then you would know I’m pretty ambitious and that I don’t give up that easily. So don’t be surprised if what I say now comes true…I believe one day everyone will have a place of their own, where they won’t have to sleep out on the street, and this makes me feel great inside!
Daniel generously dedicated his piece to everyone at United Way of Greater LA and S.R.O. Housing for their ongoing efforts to end homelessness in Los Angeles.
United Way of Greater Los Angeles has created the “Teachers to Watch” award to acknowledge the LAUSD educators who are wholly committed to their students and their school communities. We selected 25 educators across LAUSD, choosing nominees who demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond basic instruction, ensuring that their students are given every opportunity to achieve academic and extracurricular excellence.
We are thrilled to honor these Teachers to Watch at our First Annual Inspirational Teacher Awards. This special event with community and city leaders will highlight each educator’s creativity, leadership and work ethic. United Way will continue to celebrate teachers, school site staff and the teaching profession as a whole in Los Angeles as they are a cornerstone to enhancing the lives of the next generation of leaders.
A group of LAUSD teachers and educators worked with United Way to create the process for choosing this year’s recipients. This group helped create the selection process and narrowed down the list from hundreds of nominations to 25 outstanding educators. Along with the award, each educator will receive a number of prizes including a gift bag with gift certificates to Target, tickets to the LA Philharmonic and LACMA and a host of treats. The teachers will also be honored at a special event at the Disney Concert Hall this year.
Read more about the 25 Teachers to Watch below. For a full bio of each teacher, click here.Thomas Adams Sylmar High School English “Mr. Adams is currently working on establishing an after school Contemporary Writers Club that he hopes to develop into a college level course, and he is introducing the spoken word poetry of Get Lit into the school’s English Language Arts program.” Daniel Buccieri Venice High School History “Daniel was selected as an LAUSD Teacher of the Year for 2011-2012. His writing has appeared in publications such as the Still Points Arts Quarterly and the Twisted Vine Literary Journal.” Armida Delgado William Anton Early Education Center Preschool “Ms. Delgado’s greatest passion as an educator is utilizing her imagination and creativity to earn the trust, and develop the hearts and minds of her preschool students. It gives her great joy to witness the impact art and music has on a child’s learning experience.” Philip Gerlach Edwin Markham Middle School, Watts English “Mr. Gerlach is actively involved in MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement) Club. He has served on the Teacher Advisory Council for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and he served on the Teacher Advisory Board for Educators 4 Excellence.” Daniel Gettinger Huntington Park High School Instructional Coach “Mr. Gettinger graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Masters in Urban Education, where he was named the 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student in Urban Education. He was also was named one of LAUSD’s Teachers of the Year in 2013.” Mark Gozonsky Ramon C. Cortines High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, Downtown English “Mr. Gozonsky recently won first place in the California Association of Teachers of English professional writing contest and has published numerous essays and short stories, most recently “Emily Dickinson Thinks She Looks Like a Kangaroo” and “Nathaniel Hawthorne Has a Pet Monkey” in The Literary Review.” Emily Grijalva Hollenbeck Middle School, Boyle Heights English “Ms. Grijalva loves being in her colorful classroom but also believes in the importance of contributing to the school environment and professional development. She is active in Parent Engagement and contributes to school culture through various student activities, including their community garden.” Trebor Jacquez Santee Education Complex Computer Technology and Design “Mr. Jacquez has an enormous passion for improving student achievement. He is a leader in the APEX credit recovery program, which helped lead to a 12% increase in Santee’s 4-year graduation rate last year.” Adam Kuppersmith John Muir Middle School, South Los Angeles English “Mr. Kuppersmith has only taught at schools that are identified as ‘turnaround’ schools, working hard to try to equalize access to quality educational experiences in places where opportunities did not previously exist. He led the only “teacher led” team of educators to put a bid on a turnaround school in Public School Choice 2.0, standing up for students rights over his own career.” Michael Morgan Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School AP Chemistry “In addition to teaching his courses Mr. Morgan coaches over ten teams for academic events. He has coached 32 semifinalists in national Olympiads and a member of Team USA in Physics. At Bravo he is considered the guru of all things Nerdy.” Laurie Walters New Open World Academy, Korea Town First Grade “One of the biggest accomplishments in Dr. Walters’ career has been starting the New Open World Academy on the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools Campus.” Acacia Warren Educational Service Center East Common Core Teacher Expert “Ms. Warren’s number one objective is to enhance and accelerate teacher efficacy in pedagogy, curriculum planning, assessment, and reflection. She is enthusiastic about using her repertoire of strategies to equip and empower fellow educators.”
MarineYanikian-Sutton Carthay Center Elementary, Carathay Square Fourth/Fifth Grade Combination Class “During her four years at New Open World Academy, Ms. Yanikian-Sutton became an advocate for the gifted child, guiding their differentiation program as the GATE Coordinator. She facilitated Common Core Professional Developments across a K-12 span, and collaboratively wrote for $35,000 in grant funds that would empower them to implement a Balanced Reading Approach.”
What are you currently working on with Home For Good?
I have the opportunity to do the loveliest balancing act ever! I spend half of my time working on the budding Coordinated Entry Systems in and around Los Angeles County, and the other half working with the innovative Funders Collaborative.
Why are you interested in working to end chronic and Veteran homelessness in LA County?
The level of collaboration, research, and innovation around ending homelessness is not only exciting, but unprecedented in Los Angeles. I have stellar parents who instilled in us the responsibility to, however possible, help people in need. My mother began working in Skid Row when I was in high school, my sister currently is doing astounding work at Downtown Women’s Center, and on my first day in Skid Row working with the homeless population, I was not interested on focusing 50+ hours per week on anything else until homelessness was eradicated in Los Angeles. For me, it feels deeper than interest; I feel called to do this work.
What is your favorite food?
Yelp and I have a great relationship, so trying to pick a favorite food is like trying to pick a favorite Beatles song. It absolutely depends on the current season, mood or place I have just traveled. This month I have had killer cravings for vegetable green curry and grilled calamari.
What is your favorite movie or t.v. show?
My guilty pleasures are movies about the romance and gangsters of the 1940s, any well done Period Piece, and classic black & white films. But, I sheepishly will admit that my favorite will forever be Joe Wright’s version of Pride & Prejudice. The film score, cinematography, cast and most everything about that movie allows me to escape to a Jane Austen world.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
I would like to possess the power to slow down and speed up time by simply snapping my fingers. Especially in recent years, there were moments that made me want to lasso the moon and others that had me wishing I could give the sun a little push.
There are certain events that ripple through communities, changing minds and touching hearts. The 2011 death of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man in Fullerton, has become one of these flashpoints.
Kelly Thomas lived on the streets, mostly invisible to the community around him until the night he was killed and his name became a fixture in conversations and news stories across the Southland. The story of his death has been inextricably linked with his homelessness and his physical and mental health issues, which were at times sadly used by the defense in the officers’ case.
This past week, the trial came to an end with the acquittal of two officers, and with this unfortunate decision, Kelly Thomas’ story seemed to conclude…but NO! We must move forward with the memories of these individuals as our momentum. We must come together for those Kelly Thomas’ on our streets to link them to the permanent housing and support services they need to successfully move from street to home. We must ensure all of our systems are fully equipped to respond with compassion and understanding to individuals struggling with mental health problems on our streets
Kelly Thomas was seen too late to receive essential services, but there is still time to see and support the rest of our homeless neighbors. Please take a moment to reflect on the death of Kelly Thomas, but don’t stop there…join in the solution and help turn his ripples into waves!
The Coordinate Entry System, better known as CES is an accessible and innovative program by which persons experiencing homelessness and organizations providing housing find each other in a systematic and efficient manner. CES helps navigate people through the housing system faster and helps prevent new entries into homelessness. It improves data collection and provides accurate information on what type of assistance clients may need.
The goal is to create a system that guarantees individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County, rapid and accurate housing.
After two pilot rounds in Skid Row, the effort was scaled up into 7 other communities with a three-day kick-off event in early November. The following communities have since been working to create outreach systems, identify resources and assess as many individuals as possible to incorporate into the system:
As of early January, over 1700 surveys of the VI-SPDAT, the tool used to assess individuals and recommend the appropriate level of intervention, had been submitted through the CES system. Of those collected recently through the outreach efforts of the scale up communities, almost 35% were at the highest acuity levels leading to a recommendation for permanent supportive housing.
Though there are a total of eight teams on the ground level, there is one more team, the Systems team, which is working to clear barriers and maximize housing opportunities across the board. This team is working to orient new developers, encourage current providers to transition their waitlists, and identify funding and housing resources that can be folded into the CES System. At today’s meeting, two developers, A Community of Friends (ACOF) and LA Family Housing, shared about their current efforts to transition ALL of their current housing waitlists into the CES system in the next few months! An exciting promise that more and more developers are committing to, providing necessary vacancies for those in our system who are most in need.
The numbers are growing and the opportunities are expanding through CES.
We look forward to continuing to update you on the work of the CES teams and those that they are helping.
United Way of Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA) was recently awarded a grant from the James Irvine Foundation to become the “backbone organization” for LAUSD’s Linked Learning business and community engagement. UWGLA is the leading partner of the district in implementing the Linked Learning approach in local schools, giving students the opportunity to integrate rigorous academics with career-based learning and real-world workplace experiences. Linked Learning ignites high school students’ passions by creating meaningful learning experiences through career-oriented pathways in fields such as engineering, health care, performing arts, law, and more. When students love what they’re studying, they learn more, work harder, and dream bigger.
United Way of Greater Los Angeles is seeking corporate partners from a variety of industries and sectors to participate in the program and invest in their future workforce by providing students in Linked Learning pathways with high-quality work-based learning opportunities. Specifically, employers can offer students internships, mentorships, job shadowing, and field trips in addition to working closely with teachers and administrators to provide externships and insight into how the classroom experience can be better aligned to workforce expectations as they develop curricula.
For inquiries and to participate, please contact Amy Silverman, Education Program Officer, at 213-808-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trained, certified volunteers prepare taxes at no charge to families throughout Los Angeles County. Last year, volunteers provided free tax preparation service to 39,573 people, helping them claim over $43.8 million in total tax refunds.
United Way Corporate Leader, Target, celebrated this past holiday season by hosting the Best. Snowday. Ever. Over three days, Target transformed downtown’s LA Live into a winter wonderland featuring snow, music, sledding, and holiday tree lightings, for all Los Angeles residents to experience and enjoy. A long time United Way partner, Target enhanced the spirit of giving by hosting a public fundraiser featuring four local non-profits, including United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Residents donated to the charity of their choice and left their gift in large stockings placed at the event site. We salute Target for being an outstanding community hero during the holidays and throughout the year!