February is a special month dedicated to honoring the history of resilience and admirable achievements of Black Americans during Black History Month.
There are many ways to celebrate it. Many people do it by watching movies centered on the triumphs of prominent Blacks throughout history, while others prefer to celebrate by advocating for their continuous fight for justice and equality.
At United Way L.A., we celebrate by ensuring our work impacts Black Angelenos in times of crisis, providing essential support while building opportunities for their prosperity not just during Black History Month but every day.
Los Angeles County is home to the third largest Black population (936,285) in the United States.“Since their arrival, Black Angelenos have been integral to the cultural, economic, and sociopolitical landscape of Los Angeles,” according to the 2023 State of Black L.A. report. And we couldn’t agree more. Progress cannot be made in our County without the success of Black residents.
We are committed to building shared prosperity for everyone in Los Angeles, especially Black communities. That’s why we work with local partners to create community-owned approaches to ensure access to essential needs like housing, wealth building and neighborhood empowerment for this generation of Black Angelenos and the next.
Community College Success Initiative
Our Community College Success Initiative aims to support doubling the transfer and graduation rates for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) community college students in Los Angeles.
In California, the graduation rates for Latino and Black students stand at 14% and 9%, respectively, within four years of community college completion. In contrast, 17% of White and 21% of Asian students achieve this milestone in the same timeframe.
A college degree has economic benefits across all demographic groups. Average earnings for full-time, year-round workers in the state’s largest racial/ethnic groups are about twice as high for college graduates as for high school graduates.
The Student Success Fund is part of the CCSI, providing financial support to students in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) system who face financial hardship. The Mentorship Program is also part of this initiative, offering students of color and first-generation college students the opportunity to connect with a mentor who can provide valuable guidance in navigating the complexities of academic life and career planning.
Affordable Housing Initiative
Our Affordable Housing Initiative brings affordable housing to communities across Greater L.A. faster and at a lower cost through innovative design and strategic funding. In partnership with developers owned or led entirely by women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ Angelenos, we’re making it easier for low-income residents to find safe, stable homes in their communities of choice.
AHI has successfully moved $175M of private philanthropic capital into affordable housing to finance 1,011 units across the county at monthly rents of $1,000 or less. Over the next three years, AHI will invest in over 60 rent-restricted developments, providing housing for more than 2,000 low-income L.A. County residents, particularly people of color.
WIN-LA: Economic power for Black & Latina women
The Women’s Investment Network – Los Angeles (WIN-LA) is a pooled investment fund & mutual aid network for Black and Latina women to accrue valuable financial assets, invest in their communities, and increase their wealth by pooling their funding in United Way’s affordable housing and economic development investments. This allows participants to receive double-digit returns on their contributions while supporting the production of affordable housing and other vital resources in their neighborhoods.
Participants have access to financial coaching, emergency funds, and classes led by investment experts for the duration of the program. That way, every participant has the tools to succeed in the short term and make informed financial decisions for themselves and their families in the long term.
These are just some examples of the initiatives we are implementing across the County to empower Black Angelenos and create pathways of ownership and opportunity. We believe in their power and potential to make Los Angeles a more racially just and equitable place for everyone.
This year, the theme for Black History Month is “Art as a Platform for Social Justice,” which brings us a great opportunity to use art to center attention on diversity, equity, and inclusion in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and homes.
You can learn more about how our initiatives impact Black Angelenos and how you can contribute by donating, volunteering, or advocating. Click here to learn how to make a lasting impact.
Here are also some ways to honor and celebrate Black History Month through the arts and joining community events:
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