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New Support for English Learners In Boyle Heights

Promesa Boyle Heights/Proyecto Pastoral Selected as GradNation Acceleration Grant Recipient to Improve High School Graduation Rate in Los Angeles, CA

AT&T continues its investment in the GradNation campaign with support of local efforts to improve high school graduation rates and student outcomes

America’s Promise Alliance, with generous support from AT&T, recently announced that Promesa Boyle Heights/ Proyecto Pastoral has been awarded a GradNation Acceleration Grant, as part of the GradNation campaign to raise the high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020. Promesa Boyle Heights/ Proyecto Pastoral is one of five state and community grant recipients around the country that are poised to accelerate progress for more young people to high school graduation and post-secondary success.

Once known as a struggling community, Boyle Heights is becoming a model for how schools, families, and communities can unite to address critical issues in their community. Over the past decade, the community has pressed for, and won, important battles, working together to improve graduation rates in schools to 82 percent. We celebrate this community’s progress and are proud of Promesa Boyle Heights’ collaborative role in increasing academic achievement for youth.

However, these gains hide a deeper story. A closer look at student data in local schools reveals a persistent achievement gap for English Learners (EL), representing nearly one in three K-12 students in Boyle Heights. When looking at graduation rates between 2010-2011 and 2015-2016, ELs were 30 percentage points less likely to graduate on-time than their non-EL peers. Closing the achievement gap for ELs is critical to continue to make progress in graduation rates and to ensure that all youth are college ready.

Totaling $800,000 across all five grantees, Promesa Boyle Heights/ Proyecto Pastoral will receive $100,000 over two years to fund an expansion of community school efforts that will deepen supports for English Learners at Mendez and Roosevelt High School, and, expand support to English Learners at the alternative campus, Boyle Heights High School. These supports will focus on strengthening academic and social emotional supports for Long-Term English Learners (LTELs), and Newcomer English Learners. Promesa Boyle Heights aims to strengthen school, family, and community capacity to address EL needs and develop student and parent advocacy skills.

Support from this grant will help the Promesa Boyle Heights collaborative reach 60 additional students through intensive academic and social emotional support while also building leadership and capacity of educators, and families to encourage and support EL students, and to advocate for increased district commitments for different English Learner subgroups.

“We envision a community where every child feels valued and connected to the network of supports that they need to help them thrive,” said Deycy Hernandez, Promesa Boyle Heights Director. “The GradNation Acceleration grant represents an important commitment to ensuring equity and opportunity for English Learners. We look forward to leveraging this grant as an opportunity to accelerate change in our community and the broader Los Angeles region.”

Applications for the grant were submitted from 10 priority states that would have a measurable impact on improving the national graduation rate and closing equity gaps. In total, there were more than 100 applicants– all committed to improving graduation rate outcomes for a specific student groups using strategies aligned to the GradNation Action Platform. The platform identifies six areas that every community should act on to accelerate the high school graduation rate.

“We know that the most significant improvements in the national high school graduation rate will happen on the local level – in districts and communities working each day to meet the individual needs of young people,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of America’s Promise. “The final grantees were selected because they demonstrated a deep understanding of the specific student populations needing additional support and have a track record for maximizing the resources and partnerships to meet those student needs.”

“The GradNation campaign continues to demonstrate progress at increasing our nation’s high school graduation rate while also helping students pursue high quality, post-secondary degrees. Both of which are critical steps to creating a skilled and diverse workforce,” said Nicole Anderson, assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility and president of the AT&T Foundation. “It is important that we continue to invest in work that helps move students across the high school graduation stage and gets them ready for the next phase of life.”

This work of the GradNation campaign is a continuation of a decade-long undertaking. During that time, the national graduation rate has increased from 73 percent to its current all-time high of 84.1 percent. That 10 percent increase represents the more than 2 million additional young people who were able to graduate from high school with their class over the past decade.

The intended outcomes for this work include: an increase to the graduation rate, shared learning for adoption and replication in other states and communities, and strengthened local capacity to improve outcomes for young people based on their needs and strengths.

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