With distance learning the norm as the new school year gets underway, the Los Angeles Dream Center in Echo Park is pitching in to fill some gaps for kids in underserved communities.
School lunch, an important source of nutrition for at least 85% of children in California, is one. During a normal summer when school is out, 17 of 20 low-income students fall into the nutrition gap, according to the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health. Closures due to the pandemic had the same impact, so the Dream Center began serving meals in March, distributing upwards of 11,000 per day. The drive-through program has resumed and will operate from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri. throughout the fall semester and possibly into the new year.
The faith-based nonprofit has also launched its first “Restart Learning Center,” mobile learning hubs strategically placed throughout L.A. to provide a place of safety, accountability and motivation with tutors on board. The Dream Center is offering this new form of assistance, knowing that education will be particularly challenging for many families without resources and good structure to help their children as they attend school remotely.
There will be workstations on-site at the Dream Center’s Echo Park campus open during the week. In addition, outreach workstations will be available on weekday afternoons in some nearby neighborhoods. Each location will provide access to tutors and resources including computers so that students are better able to study and complete their assignments. The hope is to relieve parents – especially working parents – of some of the responsibility for schooling, to encourage students in their assignments, and to provide them a safe place to be mentored and stay motivated.
“It’s no secret that the pandemic and the lockdown in Los Angeles are crippling the poorest and most vulnerable among us,” says LA Dream Center co-founder Matthew Barnett. “When this crisis began, I saw families in tears from overwhelming uncertainty and kids robbed of a normal childhood or adolescence. I saw the rug pulled from under so many in our community. But when life lands a punch, we counterpunch with a force of good. Families throughout Los Angeles need us right now, and providing meals and resources to ensure kids don’t fall behind scholastically are just two of the ways we’re responding to this crisis with every ounce of energy that we have.”
For more information about these opportunities, visit https://www.dreamcenter.org/relief/