Our network of schools navigated an unprecedented shift this school year, like all of us have. Through persistent passion for education and dedication to preparing students for college, leadership, and life, we finished the school year strong and reinvented the way teaching and learning happens. 

When the school closures began, we remained steadfast in our mission to serve the most vulnerable communities. Over the past three months, we raised over $335,000 to narrow the digital divide; We served over 502,000 meals to students and families; and we distributed over 8,000 chromebooks and 1,300 hotspots to students who faced technological barriers. Our United Parents and Students and dozens of community- and education-based organizations helped over 100 families across Los Angeles purchase groceries and toiletries.

As a community, we endured challenges during this time, too. Thousands of people protested across the United States in palpable anger and disappointment in the unjust murder of George Floyd and far too many other acts of violence targeting African Americans. In response to these events, we provided support for our teachers to assist in facilitating conversations around the police violence protests, escalations and curfews, We carefully crafted foundations for lessons, conversation directives, and reflective exercises with our Senior Director of African American Achievement and Equity, Kris Terry. Even in distance learning, we discovered new ways to bring our teachers, students, and families closer together.

We witness enthusiasm for learning from both teachers and students. Our average daily attendance was 80 percent. Our high-performing Ánimo Florence-Firestone Charter Middle School maintained an incredible average daily attendance of 91 percent. We also surveyed our teachers and students on their experience with distance learning. During the last week of instruction, 93 percent of students felt their teachers delivered lessons with clear instructions over the internet. Ninety-seven percent of our teachers felt confident in communicating distance learning norms and expectations.

By the end of the year, our teachers and students were ready for a well-deserved celebration. We streamed graduations and promotions across the network during the last week of May and first week of June. Our extensive list of valedictorians and salutatorians took center stage during virtual ceremonies and on our blog and social platforms; Our seniors shared their diverse experiences navigating high school as they embarked on the road to college; and many of our supporters shared their encouragement as our students progressed to the next level. 

We pushed through the school year and made this incredible celebration a reality. Since our founding in 1999, our core mission has been centered around equity and justice, and we work every day to provide a high-quality education in communities that have been denied access to quality schools. This year, we marked an altogether next level of achievement as we successfully adapted to distance learning, and equipped every student in our network with digital access and devices to boot. Next year’s challenges will be different, but this year’s successes show what our communities can achieve together.