LA’s BEST brought together an inspiring gathering of educators, innovators, entrepreneurs and philanthropists, to recognize honorees committed to providing children in Los Angeles brighter futures. LA’s BEST stands for Better Educated Students for Tomorrow, a nationally recognized after school education, enrichment and recreation program serving more than 25,000 children with the greatest needs and fewest resources throughout the City of Los Angeles.
LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program provides a safe haven for children ages 5 to 12 at 194 elementary school sites each day during the critical hours after school — at no cost to parents. Established in 1988, LA’s BEST is a partnership including the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the private sector. LA’s BEST is part of Beyond the Bell, whose mission is to ensure that all children and youth in LAUSD have access to high quality, safe and supervised academic, enrichment, and recreation programs that inspire learning and achievement beyond the regular school day.
This special LA’s Best Family Brunch held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel Sunday, May 22nd honored will.i.am as the winner of the Children’s Champion Award. In addition, LEGO Education received the Corporate Partner Award and America & Penelope Lopez, known as The CyberCode Twins™, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Numerous performances by children entertained and delighted the packed ballroom while many children were asked to stand up to be recognized for their writing.
The sit down brunch was presented by Sanford Harmony at National University, an innovative social-emotional learning program that reinforces positive peer interactions among children. This learning program will soon expand to Los Angeles after school programs run by LA’s BEST. This expansion means LA’s BEST will ultimately integrate the PreK-6 Sanford Harmony program at nearly 200 school sites serving 25,000 children. Sanford Harmony was inspired by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who saw a need for developing strong social and emotional skills in children as a way of improving relationships into adulthood.
“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with Sanford Harmony at National University to introduce this worthy program that has already demonstrated significant impacts in classrooms around the country,” said LA’s BEST President and CEO Eric Gurna. “The mission of Sanford Harmony aligns strongly with our emphasis on engaging activities that help children create values, build skills and solidify peer and adult relationships.”
Honoree will.i.am is a multi-faceted entertainer and creative innovator, a seven-time Grammy Award winner, and founder and CEO of i.am+. Known for his work with The Black Eyed Peas, who have sold 31 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide, he also works with some of the industry’s biggest names including the late Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, and film composer Hans Zimmer. His i.am angel Foundation provides future leaders and innovators with comprehensive financial assistance to complete post-secondary education. The i.am.angel Foundation has also created i.am. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), an elementary and middle school initiative to provide underserved students with learning and interaction opportunities beyond the classroom in collaboration with Discovery Education.
For over 35 years, LEGO Education has offered playful learning experiences that appeal to a wide variety of students, encouraging them to become active, collaborative, motivated learners, building skills they need for the future. The robotics programming they offer in partnership with LA’s BEST sparks creativity, demands teamwork and rewards persistence and imagination.
America and Penelope Lopez are known publicly as the CyberCode Twins™ — a moniker to describe their variety of technical and social-entrepreneurship pursuits. They are community-involved leaders, with a focus on inclusion and diversity in the fields of STEAM. They are first-generation American Latinas, born and raised in Ramona Gardens public housing in Boyle Heights. They attended LA’s BEST at Murchison Elementary School.
“The theme of LA’s BEST at the Family Brunch and throughout the year is ‘Brighter Futures … Locally Grown,’” said the LA’s BEST President and CEO. “This year’s honorees represent various aspects of our commitment to providing the children we serve an opportunity to grow brighter futures for themselves in a safe, nurturing, enriching environment.”
Nothing we do is as important as the effect it has on a child. – LA’s Best.