Actor Tim Robbins, left, talks about the participation of his Actors' Gang group in the Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood project with Dixon Slingerland, right, Executive Director of Youth Policy Institute.
About $30 million in federal funds is headed to L.A.'s Pacoima and Hollywood neighborhoods in the next five years through a project called Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood.
It’s expected to help tens of thousands of people in those areas by creating services such as parenting classes, student tutoring, art classes and college financial planning in areas where there's little of it.
The L.A. non-profit Youth Policy Institute is running the program with the help of more than 60 companies, philanthropies and non-profits.
Representatives of these groups, public school administrators and officials from Southern California’s top philanthropies gathered at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood on Friday to hear about the project’s kickoff this summer.
“Los Angeles Promise Neighborhoods is exactly the kind of program that we need in these times,” actor Tim Robbins told the group. “A program that takes a fresh approach to education and recognizes the importance of the arts as part of that education.”
The Actors' Gang, the theater co-founded by Robbins in 1981, is part of L.A. Promise Neighborhood. The group's actors will be paid to give acting lessons to middle and high school students in Hollywood and Pacoima in the next school year.
The federal grant is one of five given by the Obama Administration’s Department of Education last year to groups in different parts of the country fighting poverty. The administration was inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone, a New York City non-profit that began in 1997 and offers so-called “cradle to college to community” support services to help students in low performing public schools.
“It’s a historic moment for Los Angeles,” said Youth Policy Institute Executive Director Dixon Slingerland. “And we really want to engage the corporate, philanthropic and community partners to join us in this effort.”
The group still needs money – the federal grant requires the non-profit to raise $30 million in matching funds. It's only raised about $2 million so far.