City Year: Building Relationships for Positive Learning Environments
“G-O-O-D M-O-R-N-I-N-G! Good morning! Hey, hey, good morning!” they chant enthusiastically.
On a typical morning, students walking through the gates of Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy are greeted by the welcoming and playful chants of young City Year AmeriCorps members dressed in their signature bright yellow jackets. City Year employs a group of carefully selected and highly trained young adults who provide individualized support and mentoring to students who live in historically under-served communities, while also contributing to an overall positive learning environment in schools. Each member of the City Year team works with 11 students on academic supports, attendance, and behavior.
“Research shows that students who are struggling in any of these three areas are at a greater risk of dropping out of school,” said Marissa Jackson, Senior Program Manager at City Year Los Angeles. “When a student drops out of school, it not only affects him or her, but it also has a lasting effect on our communities and society as a whole.”
City Year Los Angeles has been serving the city for ten years, and has been working with Locke for the past three. City Year Los Angeles and Locke staff work together to identify students who may need additional support and outreach, pairing them with a City Year mentor.
“City Year pushes you to accomplish goals you never thought you could accomplish,” said Aliyea S., a ninth grader at Locke. “They have helped me become a better student.”
In addition to academic supports, students receive art, music, and sport enrichment opportunities to help them develop holistically.
In 2008, thanks to the tireless work of teachers and the local community, Green Dot won the right to operate Alain LeRoy Locke High School, which at the time was led by the Los Angeles Unified School District and had failed to maintain the success of its early years. Locke had become one of the most persistently low-achieving schools in California; however, since Green Dot began leading Locke, students are going to college at higher rates, restoring the legacy of their school.
Students and staff alike feel the positive effects of Green Dot’s partnership with City Year, improving the culture of the entire campus. “I feel that the culture of Locke aligns really well with that of City Year,” said Jackson. “We’ve helped each other grow and we’ve seen students become more engaged.”
Green Dot hasn’t been able to achieve success at Locke alone– we partner with organizations that share our mission, making City Year a natural fit, and an example of our commitment to providing students with the supports they need. “I was failing classes at the beginning of the year, but now I’m passing and I’m working towards getting all A’s,” said DeAaren J., a ninth grader at Locke.
“I’m happy our school works with City Year because they really care about my future.”