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Summer Night Lights (SNL) at Edward Roybal Learning Center

A partnership between the Mayor's Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD), the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and Edward Roybal Learning Center.

Project Conception

In early 2010 the Mayor's office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) approached the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell
Program to establish their Summer Night Lights (SNL) program at a school that targeted the majority of the downtown Los Angeles inner-city community. SNL's mission is to reduce and prevent gang violence in communities of need throughout Los Angeles during the most-violent summer months and provide a safe place for at risk youth and their families to spend the summer. LAUSD identified the Edward Roybal Learning Center as the best site to hold a community program like SNL because the school is located in downtown Los Angeles and the school has outstanding physical activity facilities and open space.

Project Description

The Summer Night Lights program at Roybal Learning Center kept the school open after dark with organized programming for at risk youth and their families to prevent gang activity and increase safe recreational spaces. Through this anti-gang initiative at Roybal, 400-600 community members were served each day from Thursday through Sunday from 12 p.m. - Midnight. Some of the community activity ideas that were implemented included basketball league tournaments, loteria (Latino Bingo), and showcasing novelas (Spanish soap operas). Other activities families also engaged in were board games, soccer and football leagues, and dancing since a D.J. was provided every night. In addition, the youth really enjoyed the modular community skateboard park and liked having a go to place to skateboard. To keep everyone engaged in activities at the park throughout the day, the SNL program provided food and always served dinner, coffee and pan dulce (sweet bread) for everyone.

The Summer Night Lights program also allowed for 10-12 at-risk youth from the community to intern for the program and become the community ambassadors. Students helped canvass to promote the weekly activities and organized daily park activities by setting-up, preparing and serving meals, and tracking participants. The program allows for community youth to be leaders in their community and develop their professional and civic engagement skills. In addition, the School Police Department was engaged to patrol and secure the school.

Project Implementation

In order to have a successful Summer Night Lights program implementation at Roybal Learning Center, school administrators, district officials, and parents were very supportive of the project. Once partnership was agreed on, weekly planning meetings were organized with Roybal's principal, the plant manager, LAUSD's Director of Special Projects, various stakeholders, and community representatives to discuss logistics and the type of activities they would like to see at Roybal Learning Center throughout the summer. One of the main challenges of bringing SNL to Roybal was establishing a structure to communicate and scheduling meetings to fit everyone's schedule since many people worked together to make the project a success. Connecting with the community and involving all parties was very important to understand the needs and wants of all stakeholders.

A strong community-school partnership, like the SNL one, is important to engage the community in activities, athletic leagues, art initiatives, and family programs. The best way to promote the SNL program and activities was by directly talking to the community, going door-to-door, and invite them to participate in the activities. The Mayor's Office of GRYD was responsible for the canvassing and promotional visuals.

Project Sustainability

The Summer Night Lights program at Roybal was fully funded by GRYD and it was a one-time event. The whole SNL program is still in process at park sites with communities of higher need for anti-gang initiatives.

Model practices

The Summer Night Lights project at Roybal Learning Center's Vista Hermosa Park in collaboration with GRYD and LAUSD demonstrates the following model practices for increased access to school facilities for community use by:
  1. Assessing the community and school's needs for recreational opportunities.
  2. Collaborating with students, parents, and community organizations to identify the needs of students and families.
  3. Engaging potential partners, such as community based organizations and district agencies, to identify opportunities for collaboration.
  4. Supporting the identified partner organizations and providers through the application process.
  5. Developing a strategic plan for your school that outlines the roles and responsibilities of school staff, partner, and the community.
  6. Convening selected school staff, partner, and participating community members quarterly to discuss successes, problems, and provide updates on how to best continue the partnership.
  7. Communicating often across stakeholder groups to ensure a successful partnership.
  8. Advocating for changes in the community to help improve availability of safe recreation space for physical activity.

For More Information Contact:

Summer Night Lights
Mayor's Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development
Tel: 213-473-5894
Email: snl@lacity.org

Edward R. Roybal Learning Center
1200 W. Colton Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Facilities Services Division • 333 South Beaudry Ave. • Los Angeles, CA 90017
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