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100 Million Meals Provided By LAUSD During Pandemic

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LAUSD Meals (1)
Photo Courtesy of the LAUSD

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced that as of Monday, it has provided 100 million meals to students and community members in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today we are providing our 100 millionth meal to students and families in the communities we serve,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “It’s impossible to overstate the significance of that milestone. We knew the need would be great and we stepped up to do what we can to help.”

Beutner visited the Grab & Go Food Center at Garfield High School to mark what the district called “the somber milestone.”

According to the LAUSD, 80% of its students come from families who live in poverty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately caused job losses among them.

When the pandemic began, the district began providing meals to any student or community member in need. It also distributed 19 million supplies, including diapers, personal care items, athletic equipment and computers.

Sixty-three Grab & Go Food Centers across Los Angeles provide three meals per person between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. On Fridays, meals are provided for Saturday and Sunday.

Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, called the Grab & Go program “a serious lifeline to so many students and families in need during these very difficult times.”

“The 100 million meal milestone represents a truly extraordinary effort by Los Angeles Unified and it’s important that this program carries on for the duration of this crisis so that no student in Los Angeles goes hungry,” she said. “It wouldn’t be possible without the hard-working food
service workers who are putting these millions of meals together.”

The program was funded with $32 million in donations to L.A. Students Most in Need, a charitable fund that Beutner created as a safety net for the school community.

“Fortunately, Los Angeles Unified has been joined in this effort by businesses, individuals and philanthropic organizations who understand the need,” he said. “This nation-leading effort is a great reminder of what can be accomplished when we all work together to help those who need it most.”

The district will continue providing food to families and students until classrooms reopen.

LAUSD officials compared the 100 million meal milestone to giving a meal to every person in Germany and Switzerland combined, or the number of people that visit Disneyland in five years.

“While 100 million meals is a testament to the efforts of thousands of my colleagues who have been working tirelessly in difficult circumstances, it is also a stark reminder that families across Los Angeles are suffering,” Beutner said.

“Almost a year into the pandemic, our neighbors remain vulnerable. Children and their families worry about where the next bag of groceries will come from. Despite the heroic efforts of Los Angeles Unified, food insecurity remains a real threat to many thousands of our fellow Angelenos.”

More information about the Grab & Go centers, including a list of locations, can be viewed here.

Education

CSUN To Provide iPad Air To All First-Time Freshmen, Transfers

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CSUN Cal State Northridge

California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is one of eight CSU campuses that are part of the first phase of a new initiative, which provides a new iPad Air and other Apple products to first-time students.

The program called, California State University Connectivity Contribution to Equity and Student Success (CSUCCESS) is aimed at enhancing student achievement and create more equitable opportunities for students across the CSU system.

CSUN will be offering an iPad Air, Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio to all first-time freshmen and new transfer students who register to participate in the initiative. The students will be able to keep the equipment, for free, through the completion of their undergraduate degree at the university.

“As a university committed to access, inclusion and technological innovation, CSUN is excited to join in the CSUCCESS Initiative and offer this powerful resource to our new students,” CSUN President Erika D. Beck said in a statement.. “We’re working tirelessly to remove barriers that may dim our students’ bright futures, and CSUCCESS is another impactful investment in student success.”

In addition to CSUN, the other CSU campuses participating in the launch of CSUCCESS are Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Maritime Academy and San Marcos. CSU officials hope to expand the initiative to all students in the California State University system in the future.

CSU officials noted that throughout the course of the pandemic, access to computing equipment and connectivity was identified as an obstacle for some CSU students. Over the course of the past year, the CSU invested more than $18 million to purchase more than 21,000 laptops and tablets and 10,000 mobile Wi-Fi hotspots for students, in addition to loaning out millions of dollars of existing equipment.

There are no income-based eligibility requirements. Devices are expected to be made available in August. Upon graduation from CSUN, students will be asked to return the equipment. The devices are provided on a loaned basis so as not to impact students’ financial aid.

CSUN students can find out more about the initiative and register to participate here

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Education

Hollywood Celebrities Partner With LAUSD To Create Film, Television Academy

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Photo by Michael Vlasaty

A dozen Hollywood actors and producers have teamed up with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to create a film and television academy.

The coalition of leaders is spearheaded by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Don Cheadle, Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling, Nicole Avant, Eva Longoria, Working Title Films founders Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) Co-Chairman Bryan Lourd, are partnering with the LAUSD to found the Roybal School of Film and Television Production, a specialized academy housed within the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.

Set to launch in Fall 2022 as a magnet school, the Roybal School of Film and Television Production will provide Los Angeles Unified teachers with access to renowned storytellers, along with industry professionals and experts, and support students with a robust academic education and practical training, establishing a clear pathway to good-paying jobs, according to the district.

The inaugural program, to be overseen by Principal Blanca Cruz, will feature a specifically designed curriculum developed to meet the standards prescribed by the state of California and the University of California system. 

“We are really excited about this remarkable opportunity for collaboration and learning,” Roybal  Principal Blanca Cruz said in a statement. “Not only will it provide our students much-needed resources to support their hands-on learning experiences that are relevant in the entertainment industry, but it will also offer them the guidance and expertise needed to help them realize their inherent potential.”

In addition, students will receive real-world experience through a dedicated internship initiative. The Roybal School of Film and Television Production will start with ninth- and 10th-grade students and include Grades 11 and 12 over the next two years, with potential opportunity to expand the pilot program to more schools throughout the Los Angeles area.

“Our aim is to better reflect the diversity of our country. That means starting early. It means creating high school programs that teach young people about cameras, and editing and visual effects and sound and all the career opportunities that this industry has to offer. It means internships that lead to well-paying careers. It means understanding that we’re all in this together,” Clooney said in a statement. 

The founding members will serve on the Roybal School of Film and Television Production Advisory Board, lending their expertise and support to build a more inclusive pipeline of career-ready talent for the film and television industry.

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CSUN Receives Largest Donation In University History From MacKenzie Scott

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CSUN Cal State Northridge

California State University, Northridge (CSUN) announced Tuesday that philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett donated $40 million, the largest gift from a single donor in the institution’s history.

Scott, the former partner of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has donated a total of $2.74 billion to organizations that focus on the arts and combating racial discrimination.

“Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for 2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved,” Scott wrote in a post announcing the billions in donations.

The gift to CSUN, which is designated to support presidential priorities, comes at an especially advantageous time for the university.

Erika D. Beck, who assumed the presidency of CSUN in January of this year, recently issued a report on what she heard during an intensive listening tour during her first 100 days. The report is the first step to a university-wide process starting this fall to create a roadmap for the future.

“This transformative gift provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance our future as leaders in equity-centered student success to provide a brighter and more equitable future for our students, their families and the communities we are so proud to serve,” said Beck.

Among the priorities identified in the Listening Tour Report, are the elimination of equity gaps, accelerating the work in diversifying the faculty, academic excellence, holistic student support and facilitating CSUN students’ educational goals and intellectual promise.

“While one-time dollars cannot be used to support long-term expenses in perpetuity, with a mix of focused spending and investment, we can, and will, use these dollars to transform our campus for generations to come,” Beck added.

Scott and Jewett’s gifts to higher education have focused on institutions that have higher proportions of students from historically underserved communities and excel at supporting their success. 

With multiple programs ranked nationally for their quality and excellence, CSUN was recently ranked 4th in the nation on CollegeNet’s Social Mobility Index, which measures a college’s success at moving students up the social and economic ladder.

Other Southern California colleges and organizations also received donations from the couple, including Pasadena City College and the  L.A. Arts Endowment Fund.

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