"I thought I was just going to work with kids, but I realize I entered a community and found a career."

Kids & Families

"We know that Ethan is safe and his Coaches meet his needs."


"Through both youth and workforce development, LA’s BEST makes communities stronger."


The 2016-17 year was an especially challenging one, but through it all, LA’s BEST staff provided love, strength and support to our children and their families. Our people make LA’s BEST extraordinary, which is why we are dedicating this annual report to them; Our People Are Everything.    

Research shows that children who have one or more caring adults in their lives are more likely to blossom into productive and caring adults themselves. LA’s BEST staff do more than just care for our students – they are role models of kindness and leadership, especially during adverse times.

During the 2016-17 program year, I was privileged to see the LA’s BEST team come together. We stood in solidarity with our 25,000 children and families as many of them were threatened with unforeseen difficult circumstances – in addition to the struggles and trauma they face by living in our city’s most economically distressed neighborhoods. Our staff are leaders alongside our families and communities to help strengthen Los Angeles.

I marvel at the level of engagement, compassion and creativity I see every time I visit one of our sites. The impact of LA’s BEST is evident in the lives of our staff, students, their families, and the greater Los Angeles community. . .

President & CEO Eric Gurna with LA's BEST students

What We Do

LA’s BEST is a partnership of the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell and the private sector that provides a safe and supervised after school education, enrichment and recreation program for children ages 5 to 12 living in economically distressed neighborhoods throughout the City of Los Angeles.

School Sites in LA

Children Served Daily

Program Staff

Supports One Child for a Year

2016-2017 Accomplishments

2016-17 was non-stop! We provided 25,000 students with enriching opportunities every school day and successfully piloted new programs which we hope to scale.

Homework Help

Every school day, each student receives help with their homework from staff and their peers, easing the pressure on families and allowing more time to play together.

2016-17: 2,060 staff helped 25,000 students with their homework during LA’s BEST.


Students receive a nutrient-rich meal each day – for some it may be the most substantial meal they have until they return to school the next morning.

2016-17: Over 4 million nutritious meals were served by staff during the school year and over 200,000 during the summer.


LA’s BEST activities and clubs – from STEM to arts to nutrition to entrepreneurship – reflect the interests of the students, teach them skills and fuel their curiosity.

2016-17: Staff were trained to implement new clubs, including 112 staff in Speedometry, 68 in KidPress, 31 in CoderTime and 17 in Cyber Patriot.

Sports & Recreation

Our sports programming, supported by the LA84 Foundation, harnesses the power of coaching to develop character and values, focusing on sportsmanship, gender equality and building every child’s self-esteem.

2016-17: Coaches received new trainings, including 37 staff in Ultimate Frisbee and 200 in Soccer for Success. In total, 800 staff coached 4,000 games of flag football, basketball, soccer and softball.

Citywide Events & Field Trips

LA’s BEST expands students’ horizons through signature Citywide Events and through exciting field trips to locations such as the Music Center, a NFL LA Rams game, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and other amazing experiences throughout LA.

2016-17: 500 staff organized 4 Citywide events, serving 20,000 students. 900 staff accompanied 8,000 students on field trips to 50 unique locations.


LA’s BEST summer programs keep kids learning, engaged and active while school is out, helping to prevent summer learning loss, which disproportionately affects children from low income families.

2016-17: 1,042 staff provided 7,000 students with summer programming – an increase of 1,200 students and more than 100 staff, thanks to an investment by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City of Los Angeles.

The Voices of LA's BEST

LA’s BEST 2,000+ staff are role models to each other, the kids and families they serve and are leaders in the community. Hear from staff member Christine Posadas, the Valadez Family and Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley.

Christine Posadas, LA’s BEST Program Staff

"I thought I was just going to work with kids, but I realize I entered a community and found a career."

Last year I really saw how my leadership influenced how we empower our students and focus on their development. The 2015-2016 year kicked off with a training with Debe Loxton, COO of LA’s BEST. The training included self-reflection on the type of leader we want to be, positive behavior support, social-emotional learning, and how to resolve conflict. This was particularly beneficial to me because last year I coached staff to help them nurture and support our students and guardians.

One of my favorite trainings last year was learning how to implement Never Too Young, a financial literacy program in which students learn about economics, entrepreneurial skills and the importance of wants vs. needs. The greatest rewards were seeing the kids create their own prototypes with marketing plans, and seeing them starting to relate to the the financial choices their parents make every day. Students said to us: “I know my mom doesn’t buy the purse she wants because she buys us food instead”, and, “I can’t buy a toy from Target every time we go because everyone in the family has needs.”

Like all my trainings, I learned alongside my colleagues and students. I now know about ecommerce, how to write a business plan, and see better ways to budget my money. I feel very fortunate — learning at LA’s BEST is never ending.

When I was a Program Worker in LA’s BEST, Program Coach Ralph inspired me and helped shape the person I am today. I started working at LA’s BEST when I was 19 years old and six years later, I’m enrolled at Pacific Oaks college getting my degree in Human Development with a concentration on Social Change. LA’s BEST impact is coming full circle: Coach Ralph’s leadership influenced me, and now I can see the impact of his influence in the changes in my staff and students. In 2018, I’m launching LA’s BEST first partnership with AARP to help volunteers boost younger students’ reading skills. Thanks to my previous LA’s BEST training, I’m ready for this new challenge.

Valadez Family, Gates Elementary School Site

"We know that Ethan is safe and his Coaches meet his needs."

When Ethan started LA’s BEST at Gates Elementary, Site Coordinator Laura really welcomed us.  We both work long hours and it’s really nice to have a relationship with the people who care for Ethan after school. When I pick-up Ethan, I learn how he did that day and if he had any struggles – they don’t judge, they just make sure we know.

Our son has ADHD. The staff are always patient, working with him and giving him the tools he needs to play with the other kids. He also has a speech problem and his Coaches work with him and the other kids to make sure he doesn’t get bullied. We used to worry about it a lot, but because he’s in LA’s BEST it’s not a big problem anymore.

We’ve learned that he needs to be active. Coach Corina noticed this too. She asked us if it would be okay if Ethan played sports with another group of kids. She kept us informed every step of the process.  This worked great and Ethan is much happier while playing sports – which he loves.

When we pick Ethan up at 6pm, we like to go to the park and play together and we can only do that because he’s had a good snack and finished his homework. We get to have fun together, which is so nice for us!   

We feel like we get a hug every time we pick him up. I want people to know that if LA’s BEST didn’t exist our lives would be very stressful. I know this is the same for a lot of other families too – it’s nice to have a community. We see Ethan’s Coaches in the neighborhood and they always get excited to see him. It makes him feel so good. Us too!         

Brenda Shockley, Deputy Mayor of Economic Opportunity, Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti

Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley with State Senator Holly Mitchell, LA's BEST President & CEO Eric Gurna, LAUSD Superintendent of Local District South Chris Downing and LAUSD Interim Director of Government Relations Pedro Salcido

"Through both youth and workforce development, LA’s BEST makes communities stronger."

As the Deputy Mayor of Economic Opportunity for the City of Los Angeles, I lead Mayor Eric Garcetti’s efforts to improve the lives of the most vulnerable Angelenos – by fighting poverty, housing the homeless, expanding affordable housing and improving access to workforce development resources. As a partnership of the City, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the private sector, LA’s BEST is an important part of these efforts.

After more than two decades of work in South LA, I know how important both education and employment are to lifting up communities in need. In addition to providing an after school program that benefits 25,000 children and their families, LA’s BEST also promotes workforce development by employing more than 2,000 staff – the people who make the program happen every day.

LA’s BEST staff are hired from the communities they serve and provided with opportunities for training, development and advancement. They learn to create successful learning environments, support children and develop their own leadership skills. LA’s BEST staff often grow within the organization – from being in charge of a classroom, a program site, or a region – or go on to careers in education, social services and more. For example, James Bigelow, who is both an LA’s BEST alumnus and former staff member, went on to work for the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development, where he ran youth programs in the same South LA community he grew up.

LA’s BEST staff go beyond just keeping kids safe after school: they help communities thrive. That’s why Mayor Garcetti joined with LA City Council, LAUSD, LAPD Chief Beck and many others, to successfully advocate for increased state funding for after school programs. Mayor Garcetti also invested in LA’s BEST by funding an expansion of the summer program for 1,200 additional students (that’s more than 100 new summer jobs for staff!).

Through both youth and workforce development, LA’s BEST makes communities stronger. I’m proud to have LA’s BEST as part of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity – working together with all 2,000 staff members to make Los Angeles a better city for all its residents.


Our success in 2016-17 was possible thanks to collaboration with partners, valuable resources from generous donors, and dedicated staff and government officials. Thank you to our:

Fundraising Events


UnWINEdLA on October 14th was a great success, bringing together a conscious crowd of influential Angelenos to raise $220,000. Thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, the Goldhirsh-Yellin Foundation, 500 guests and the BEST Friends Board for making UnWINEdLA another memorable night!  

LA's BEST Family Brunch

We honored Michaela Pereira, Kaiser Permanente and alumna Karen Calderon at our annual Family Brunch on May 21st at the UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center. Our premiere fundraiser celebrated one of our core values – Every kid counts! LA’s BEST students showcased their talents as they performed La Bamba, a rap, a science experiment and more at this warm and engaging event!

Cycle 4 LA’s BEST

Led by the BEST Friends Board, LA’s BEST partnered with Pedal On The Pier for the second time on June 5th. We raised more than $50,000 to support LA’s BEST and send our students to Camp Ubuntu, where they are able to engage with nature, participate in character-building activities and develop leadership skills.

LA's BEST Financials FY 2016-17

A summary of LA’s BEST revenue, support and expenses for 2016-17.


© 2017 LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program  |  Credits

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