A search has begun for 75 families to take part in "Building Up Los Angeles," a yearlong program to develop leadership skills and improve community relations.
The program, part of the federal AmeriCorps national service program, will focus on families with children attending Roosevelt High School, Hollenbeck Middle School and Sheridan Elementary School--one of seven areas in the city targeted for the program.
"We're focusing on the whole family as a group," said Eastside coordinator Ruben Duenas. "The idea is to focus on those families. By building those skills, hopefully they will spread out to other families."
The families will attend workshops and meetings that will involve 60 agencies citywide, including colleges, universities and social service organizations. The sessions, to be led by 30 AmeriCorps workers, will focus on public safety, the environment, education, health and housing.
At the "Building Up Los Angeles" kickoff Oct. 22, 500 people gathered to plant 30 trees at Sheridan and Hollenbeck. Community organizations distributed information and conducted health screenings.
Duenas said he hopes to have all the workers and families--who will be recommended by the schools--selected by the end of December.
The workers will each receive $4,725 in college tuition from AmeriCorps in exchange for their services.
In the schools, the students chosen for the program will meet regularly, like a club. They will work on coming up with ways to address problems they see on their campuses and in their neighborhoods.
The families will discuss how to access government and social service agencies to improve their neighborhoods. They will also seek ways to hold their schools, public officials and community agencies accountable for what they often promise to do, Duenas said.
One of the bigger challenges, he said, will be to teach parents and children how to work together.
"We have to have the parents understand where the kids are coming from and have the kids understand where the parents are coming from," Duenas said. "The goal is to get things done in the community and having these people who are community residents come up with ways of addressing the problems."