Latest round of grants moves from urgently needed relief to envisioning an equitable recovery


CONTACT: Jen Wheeler, Ocean & Mountain •

PHONE AND VIDEO INTERVIEWS available with representatives of the organizations below.

LOS ANGELES—In response to intensified inequities in our education system brought on by the pandemic, United Way’s TransformED grants to 12 education organizations will help sustained improvement to the education system in support of LA’s most vulnerable students, and also help teachers and parents navigate the changing landscape.

Another school year of remote learning threatens to deepen the stark achievement gap between Black and Latinx students and their white and Asian peers. Student performance and growth rely on stable support systems, food, healthcare, and housing, all of which the pandemic has made precarious in underserved communities. A report by Los Angeles Unified School District’s Independent Analysis Unit found that Black and Latinx students are less likely to participate in online learning, threatening to further widen the gap. Challenges compound for low-income students, foster and homeless youth, and students with disabilities.

“The pandemic sparked unprecedented challenges to our education system, intensifying existing inequities, exposing gaps, and creating the most suffering for our vulnerable students,” said Elise Buik, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “Rather than maintaining ineffective models that deepen racial and economic inequities, we have an opportunity to transform our system. United Way of Greater Los Angeles is investing in a dozen local organizations with a track record of student-centered services and advocacy to reimagine our system in an equitable way.” 

The TransformEd grants come on top of previous investments made by United Way’s Pandemic Relief Fund. Announced in early March 2020, the Fund has already granted nearly $1 million to 29 nonprofit partners who made rapid, urgent pivots to support vulnerable students and their families. 

TransformED grantees will help scale up innovative practices that address inequities in Los Angeles’s highest need communities. Initiatives receiving grant funding: 

  • address the digital divide
  • increase capacity building for educators
  • establish social-emotional support for families
  • strengthen college readiness
  • fortify school stakeholder engagement efforts

United Way will evaluate efforts in hopes of expanding promising programs systemwide.

A number of the grantees are developing holistic methods to form connections with students despite the challenges of distance learning.

“This project is aligned with the core value of SBCC which is to discover and celebrate each person’s gifts and talents. Reimagining an education system where this happens is part of our mission,” said Rudy Melendez, Community Organizer, Strength Based Community Change. “Supporting students’ social emotional learning through teaching tools that improve student engagement and academic outcomes is what SBCC and specifically this grant is all about.”

“At an unprecedented time, this critical support provided by United Way of Greater LA will allow Alliance for a Better Community to provide specific responsive supports to Latino parents who are now serving as teachers, and carrying the primary responsibility for their children’s’ essential learning,” said Vanessa Aramayo, Executive Director, Alliance For a Better Community. “ABC is committed to continuing to uplift the needs of parents long-term and provide some sense of certainties in our advocacy efforts during these very uncertain times. We are grateful to UWGLA for their support of these efforts as well.” 

“As we navigate this next phase of COVID-remote learning, we know teachers will continue to rise to the challenge as they did last spring. However, students and teachers need support to connect and build relationships in order to thrive,” said Alicia Montgomery, Executive Director, The Center for Powerful Public Schools. “This grant allows us to provide training to teachers and school administrators to increase the quality of strategies used to support students through social, emotional, and of course academic distance learning. We will continue to create platforms to share peer-to-peer best practices between educators, allowing them to grow in this unprecedented way of learning. We must take the opportunity to allow a new, better and more equitable system emerge.” 

TransformED Grantees:
Alliance For a Better Community
Center for Powerful Public Schools
Communities in Schools of Los Angeles Inc.
Educators for Excellence-Los Angeles
Families in Schools
Heart of Los Angeles Youth, Inc.
InnerCity Struggle
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Partnership For Los Angeles Schools
Proyecto Pastoral
Strengths Based Community Change


United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization fighting to end poverty by preparing students for high school graduation, college, and the workforce; housing our homeless neighbors; and guiding hard-working families towards economic mobility. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change.