Friday Project Update: CYGN

Today I am going to share an example of how a Local Hero strategically used a GO Campaign grant to transform an elementary school.

Organization: Conscious Youth Global Network (CYGN)
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Context: Hillcrest Elementary is one of California’s lowest performing schools, with low English and math scores, low graduation rates, and high suspension rates. Of the 700 students, 46% are African American, 49% are Latino, and 85% are socioeconomically disadvantaged and qualify for the free lunch program.

Background: GO Local Hero Bikbaye Inejnema is committed to transforming the Baldwin Hills neighborhood where Hillcrest is located. He believes that helping elementary students gain a better sense of self, acquire a positive resolve to excel in life, gain tools to handle peer pressure, and get connected to committed adults concerned about their well-being will end the cradle to prison pipeline.

Current Status: In June 2016, GO Campaign approved a grant for to implement a rites of passage program for boys at Hillcrest Elementary. The grant was successfully completed; here are some highlights:

  • Participants developed positive views of their racial identity and increased their leadership skills
  • LAUSD matched GO’s grant so a Rites of Passage program was also implemented with the girls at Hillcrest and LAUSD provided an additional $20K to implement a STEM program at the school
  • All 5th grade teachers were trained on the latest STEM teaching practices
  • A student drumming program and choir were established as well as a guest lecture series for parents and the larger community
  • Incidences of bullying were reduced
  • Other schools took notice of the changes at Hillcrest. The principal of Budlong Elementary has allocated $25K to implement the program at her school next year and CYGN has requests from Mary B Henry High School and College Bridge Academy for the program.

None of this would have been possible without GO Campaign’s support.

Meet Nathanial

Nathanial is 10 years old and in the 5th grade. Due to Nathaniel’s participation in the program, he was able to stay calm and present during a crisis situation. Nathaniel’s mother works nights. One day, he and his younger sister were home alone. Nathaniel was watching television when he heard gunshots right outside their home. He fell to the ground and screamed for his younger sister. Not receiving a response, he crawled through the house to her, grabbed her, and took her to the back room. As the gunshots got closer, he crawled through the house to ensure all the doors were locked. After securing the house, he called his mother’s cellphone. Nathaniel shared that “If he had not participated in the ROP program and been able to remain present for that crisis, he didn’t know if he and his sister would be alive today.”