But LA’s BEST has also been providing something more to young children at a critical point in their lives: Through our deliberately developed programming and staff, we build the kind of deep intellectual, creative, physical and social engagement in children that drives their development as motivated learners and active contributors to their education, schools and communities. This is reflected in concrete measures such as school attendance and graduation rates, and in equally critical measures of self-confidence, curiosity and wonder, and enhanced senses of purpose, drive and self-worth.
- Our role is to create environments where young people can discover their own interests and talents, learn skills that help them successfully navigate today’s world and grow into their true, whole selves.
- Engaging activities are vehicles for sparking curiosity and wonder, creating values, building a love of learning and new skills, and strengthening peer, adult and community relationships.
- Children have the right to make meaningful choices about and within the activities they engage in, in the overall program environment and in their lives.
- When we listen for understanding, everyone learns—children and adults alike.
- Nothing we do is as important as the effect it has on a child.
Multiple independent evaluations by UCLA’s Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) over the last two decades have consistently shown positive short- and long-term outcomes as a result of students’ participation in LA’s BEST.
LA’s BEST participants:
- Are 20% less likely to drop out of high school
- Are 30% less likely to commit a juvenile crime
- Have better attendance and demonstrate higher grades in middle school
- Show bigger gains in math, language arts, science and history in middle school the longer they are in LA’s BEST in elementary school
LA’s BEST strengthens students’ self-esteem and self-efficacy. Our students feel important, cared about, supported and encouraged, and develop relationships that can make a difference for their entire lives. (Sources: UCLA/CRESST, 2005 • 2007 • 2011)
And our positive, quantifiable impact doesn’t end with our 25,000 kids. Our impact extends into the greater Los Angeles community. The families we support – families that gain the ability to hold needed jobs or extra hours of work, and go to work with the critical knowledge that their children are safe and well-cared for after school – and the neighborhoods enriched and strengthened through our community-based staff hiring and development.
Real, sustainable impact, citywide.