The Boys & Girls Club of Venice serves Venice and the surrounding communities of Mar Vista, Culver City, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Carson, Palms, Marina del Rey, Compton, and Westchester.
In our community, two worlds tensely coexist: poor African American and Latino families live amongst upscale shops, galleries, and celebrity homes. Our Club children are challenged every day by the breakdown of traditional family structures:
- 48% of Club members are from single parent households.
According to the California Budget Project, because of the high cost of living here these single parent families need to earn $59,700 per year to cover the basics, more than three times the federal poverty level. We don’t ask our members their family income, but we do know that over half of them are poor, according to federal standards:
- 56% of Club members qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school.
Two consequences of poverty that we fight every day are the risk that our young people will fail in school and/or join a gang. Adults in our tract are not good role models -- 33% of 18- to 24-year-olds did not graduate from high school themselves (Socioeconomic Mapping and Resource Topography [SMART] System developed by the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention).
The main site of our COLLEGE PREP program is our satellite facility on the campus of Venice High School, a Title 1 school. The graduation rate here in 2006 was 44%. The graduation rate of students who completed the course requirements (called “A-G”) needed to go on to a California state university or college was only 20%. Among African American students, 49% graduated, but only 19% completed A-G. Among Hispanic students, only 37% graduated, and of those only 14% completed A-G.
Of our Club members at this unit, 50% are Hispanic and 24% are African American, so the majority of our members are considered unlikely to graduate high school, much less go on to higher education. We have been successful at reversing this statistic.
This year, 16% of the student body at Venice High are ELLs (English Language Learners). We know these language difficulties increase the risk of failure in school. Only 5% of 8th grade ELLs in Los Angeles scored at or above proficiency on the state’s reading/language arts assessment in 2007 compared to 45% of their English Only peers. (Los Angeles on the Leading Edge: Immigrant Integration Indicators and their Polity Implications. Migration Policy Institute).
In June 2006, a student was shot dead at Venice High School in a gang-related incident, the first fatal shooting on a campus in the Los Angeles Unified School District in more than a decade. “The kids that feed into this school [Venice High] come from a community that has active gangs, and the schools are a reflection of this,” School Police Officer Jose Santome told the Los Angeles Times, in response to the shooting. In addition to the three local gangs, more high-school-aged gang members are bussed in for school from other parts of the city.