Welcome to the Urban Foundation blog

Using My Voice For College Equity


In June, I had to opportunity to be part of the College for All Coalition! I boarded a bus with about 50 other people and set off to my destination seven hours away. Students, parents and community members of all ethnicities from Pomona and Los Angeles went to Sacramento and talked to state assembly members and senators about AB 699, Safe Schools For Immigrant Students, and continuing support of SB 1050, College Readiness Block Grant. AB 699 would guarantee undocumented students protection from ICE in schools. The elongation of SB 1050 would continue to give funding to schools with majority low income, English language learners, and foster youth to support college admissions and completion. Unfortunately, the current money allocated from SB 1050 is due to run out in two years and AB 699 is yet to pass; however, this coalition gave us the opportunity to express our opinions to legislators. By sharing our concerns, we became active advocates for our communities.

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Kid City in the LA Times!


Kid City helps undocumented students apply for financial aid 

Check out this LA Times article featuring several Kid City students who are dreamers. We're proud to provide emotional support and academic help to students who want to go to college and change the course of history for their families and community.  Read article on LA Times website here

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Urban Foundation Spotlight


Reminiscing on the Urban Foundation
By Sara Munshin

Soon after I started attending First United Methodist Church, Los Angeles (FUMC-LA) in the mid-1980’s, I was told of the church’s decision, after selling its property at the corner of 8th and Hope for what was then a huge sum, to form a separate foundation. From what I understood, there were two basic components of the work of the Urban Foundation. The first was the ongoing support of an urban ministry program at the Claremont School of Theology. The second was the support of small but significant faith-based ministries in urban Los Angeles. Over time, I had some minor involvement by serving on selection committees for the Seeds of Hope grants.


More recently, I have supported the Kid City program in various ways since its inception and have become a member of the Urban Foundation Board. As a volunteer, I recently began going through the archives of the Urban Foundation, focusing on the annual award dinners that were held for several years, some of which I attended.  In the first decade of this century, these dinners recognized people working in social services related to the United Methodist Church through the Hutchinson-Green Awards; organization and leaders who “Initiate and support signs of hope in the city” thought the Urban Shepherd Awards; and other awards for organizations and individuals making a difference in our city. It was touching and inspiring to read about the individuals and organizations that have worked diligently throughout the years to do God’s work in the city. Some were known only in their local areas and others have national recognition, yet they all found ways to serve the city and its diverse people.

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Con Safos: Reflections of Life in the Barrio at the Museum of Social Justice


Con Safos Magazine was a leading Chicano literary journal that emerged in the late 1960’s to the 1970’s in the East Los Angeles Barrio. Con Safos Magazine offered a Chicano first voice to address and document “El Movimiento.”

The Museum of Social Justice was born out of the La Plaza Initiative, housed at the Urban Foundation in 2010 to preserve the historic La Plaza United Methodist Church on Olvera Street Plaza. Since 2012 the Museum has had a run of exhibits that highlight social justice movements in Los Angeles, from the genesis of the Goodwill Industries to Hollywood’s role in the civil rights movement. The current exhibition chronicles Chicano social and cultural activism through visual and literary art reflecting life in East Los Angeles, including oral testimonies, personal poems and satirical musings, painting, photography, photo collages, comics, documentaries, social activism and other cultural forms of expression. We highly recommend this outstanding exhibit!

Check out Los Angeles United Methodist Museum of Social Justice's website

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"Mi Familia" at Baldwin Park United Methodist Church

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Recalibrating our Power as a Community

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Community College Pride

Connee_Jazmin.jpegJazmin Valenzuela offered us this testimonial to the value of a community college education. Jazmin is currently a senior at UC Santa Barbara. At left, she was our guest speaker at a fundraiser in 2015, pictured here with Connee Freeman, former Urban Foundation board member.

"After high school, I begrudgingly began attending community college. My plans of going to a four year school didn’t pan out and I felt defeated. I was angry because I felt like I had to settle for less, and upset because I thought to myself, “this place is for kids who don’t know where to go or what they want.”

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Urban Internship- the second year!

Domenica Castillo was an intern at the Los Angeles  Domenica_MSJstaff.jpgUnited Methodist Museum of Social Justice (MSJ) during the second year of the program, in summer 2016. She attended La Plaza United Methodist Church, where the museum is located, and was mentored by Pastor Vilma Cruz-Baez. As an intern, Domenica says that she "gained experience in the many facets of operating a museum including museum management, development, programming, and display techniques. The small and family-like atmosphere of the Museum of Social Justice allowed me to grow, participate, and contribute to the development of the museum."

Above, left to right: Daniel Ponce(high school student volunteer), Domenica Castillo (Urban Foundation and Museum Intern), Niki Heer (UCLA intern), Keith Rice (Head Curator, Research Historian & Board President), Lucy Hernandez (Head Curator & Archivist), Katie Osterkamp (UCLA intern), and Michelle Dragoo (Cal State LA graduate intern).

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Sequoia Trip





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FoxGives Rehab SLAM 2016


By Anakaren Andrade

During a topsail field trip, Laura met Wil from Fox Gives and talked to him about Kid City. They exchanged emails and ever since Kid City and Fox Gives have formed a great partnership. Fox Gives has provided Kid City with care packages for college students and invited Kid City to studio events where students have been able to explore different careers in the entertainment industry. Most recently, Fox Gives provided Kid City with a makeover!

As an old member of Kid City, I worked in the old space and knew how much Kid City needed this makeover. My friends and I would help make lunch and dinner for events and even though we had limited equipment like an old microwave and a small oven, we were able to create a variety of pasta dishes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After, we would wash the kitchenware in the small old sink in the bathroom. We made the best out of our limited resources and felt like Kid City was our second home.After visiting Kid City, Fox Gives decided to remodel Kid City to provide the students with a new space. During the next few months, Fox Gives volunteers and Kid City members worked together to build desks, bookshelves and paint the walls. Fox gives also provided us with a new and large sink, computers, and a printer. After the hard work, Fox Gives unveiled the new space to Kid City students, parents, staff and other supporters.

When I first saw the space, I was surprised by all of the new changes and upgrades. One of the first things I noticed were the televisions in the community room and the band room. This was a new thing added to Kid City, and I knew they would be necessary for presentations and classes. I also saw the new computers, sofas, and bean bags. What made me really happy to see was the new kitchen and sink. The kitchen now has a new microwave and utensils and the new sink is bigger! The sink makeover is great because I know this will make it more comfortable to prepare meals and snacks for the students. Kid City’s program gets bigger every year and with this new space, we will be able to support everyone. This summer, Kid City offered different classes such as art, spoken word, and personal statement and all of the instructors used the new computers and televisions to teach students. The kitchen was used to make meals for over 40 students and the best part was that it was easier to wash dishes at the end.

We are very grateful for this new space and know that many other summer and fall programs will benefit from the makeover. Although the old Kid City felt like home to me, I am getting used to this new space and am glad that other students will have access to this beautiful new Kid City. I am also pleased that this new space is allowing Kid City staff to support more students.

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Splash of LA 2016

Check out our Splash of LA photo gallery. Let us know what activity you liked best or what you would like to see next year! If you're interested in volunteering at our Splash 2017, email Alma Catalan at almacatalan@kidcityhopeplace.org 


Thank you for coming to  SPLASH OF LA 2016 

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Photos by Victor Corona, 12th grade, Orthopaedic Medical Magnet High School 




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Camp Discovery at Fox


On July 14th, Kid City members attended Camp Discovery, an event held by Fox Studios. This was a great way for students to learn about different careers in the entertainment industry, such as hair and makeup, animation, and being an editor for National Geographic Kids. 

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From Member to Intern

I have been a part of Kid City since 2012 and received help with applying to college. I soon became close to Laura, Alma and Anne and knew I could count on them for support.


At the time, I was really stressed with the idea of applying to college and scholarships. However, every time I entered Kid City, I would feel relieved and knew everything would turn out great. I was paired with a mentor and we worked together on my personal statements. Kid City provided me with academic support and also with emotional support. Laura had us read and discuss an article about "impostor syndrome" and I related so much to it. She made me rethink my feeling of being an imposter and taught me to be more confident and take ownership of my hard work. 

Since I joined Kid City, I have always tried to give back in any way. I volunteered during Splash of LA and was part of college panels. This summer I wanted to play a bigger role and decided to become a Kid City intern.

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Summer at Kid City










Kid City’s summer program just ended and this year it provided students with a diverse range of classes. What makes Kid City’s summer program so special is that many of the teachers are incoming freshman and returning college students. These students are eager to share their knowledge with others and want Kid City to be a place of learning, dialogue, and stress relief.

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That's a Wrap! Ultreya 2016


On June 24, 2016 the Urban Foundation hosted Ultreya to celebrate Kid City’s accomplishments.  This year Ultreya raised $35 K which supports Kid City's core causes which include youth leadership, college access and lifetime support for first generation college students. During the event, we honored our first college graduates: Kwesi Essilfie (Cal State Northridge), Kofi Essilfie (UC Irvine) and Alma Sanchez (UC Berkley). We ate delicious tacos, enjoyed refreshing raspados and listened to Kid City’s band entertain the crowd with lively music.

* Currently looking for sponsors for Ultreya! 2017, when we'll have even more graduates to celebrate! Currently looking for underwriting sponsorships for $2500, $5000, and $10000! Please donate here or contact Anne Hawthorne at the Urban Foundation (annehawthorne@urbanfoundation.org) for more information. Read on about this year's party!


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Thank you for the memories Katherine!

Katherine.jpgAs I reach my last day at Kid City, I am leaving a piece of my heart there. I was here for almost a year, but I felt like I have been here longer. Kid City has taught me many things, one of them being true to myself. I have learned that it is okay to make mistakes and that mistakes do not define who you are, but what you do to fix them. Being the first Social Work Intern from USC, I have listened to many students and their stories. They come from many different backgrounds, but regardless of that, they are strong and are still fighting to be something big in life. Although I am older than some of the students at Kid City, they have taught me to be strong and for that I look up to them. I hope that as I leave, Kid City stays the same warm, safe haven for students to find support. Last, but not least, I want to say “Thank You” to Laura, Alma, and Anne for always supporting me and my ideas. You are the backbone of why Kid City is so great! I hope to come back soon and visit every single one of you. Thank you again for welcoming me with open arms and letting it be okay for me to cry. It is a happy cry, not a sad one because being at Kid City has been one of the most rewarding and wonderful experiences I could have ever hoped for. These memories will always be with me! Thank you and I’ll see you soon!

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New Video by APO/USC!

Check out the new video about Kid City from our good friends at Alpha Phi Omega!

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Two years ago, just before entering her first year at UCLA, Jocelyn Martinez wrote this essay in response to reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” while in my pre-college writing workshop at Kid City. A year later, Jocelyn, together with Maria Alonso taught the pre-college writing workshop. This week, to commemorate the MLK Jr. holiday, I asked one of Jocelyn's students to reflect on the meaning of her essay, two years later. In this way, students continue to be in dialog with Dr. King and with each other.

Monologue/Dialogue, by Jocelyn Martinez

Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote, in his now renowned letter from Birmingham jail, that the American South of his time tragically lived in “monologue rather than dialogue.” Using such a loaded phrase, King captured an unjust American truth: the story of America is that of the white man; his African-American brothers, and other minorities, are largely ignored. Disgusted by the injustice of segregation and the degrading inferiority thrust upon thousands of African-Americans, Martin Luther King dedicated his time and efforts to making the story of America a story of all. To obtain such results, King first had to induce a shift from monologue to dialogue.

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Meet Alma Sanchez, Cal Student & Kid City Leader

Alma_square_pic.jpgNext month, I will graduate from UC Berkeley with a degree in Social Welfare and English. After graduation, I hope to work in the education nonprofit sector until I begin a master’s program in higher education. But today I want to share how Kid City helped me with my undergraduate education. Before I can do that, though, I need to address where I was coming from. By the end of my sophomore year, for the first time in my life, I had cooked for myself, paid rent and bills on my own, and started working. But all these transitions in my life were not the challenging part; it was the mixture of upper division courses and depression. By the end of May 2013, college had left me disillusioned and tired. While many of my peers had extensive summer plans, I had given little thought to mine. Back in L.A., I accompanied my brother to Kid City, the program that helped him get into Berkeley. After sitting in on the orientation for the upcoming summer program, I spoke with Laura Cuellar, the site director of Kid City, and told her I wanted to volunteer there. She immediately said yes and took down my number.

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Ultreya! Take heart! Carry on!

On September 2nd, 2015 the Urban Foundation hosted its most successful fundraiser in recent Urban Foundation history! Ultreya benefitted Kid City college access and completion programs for first generation college students, and celebrated their accomplishments. The evening included a taco bar, specialty drinks by Mbar, a photo booth, laser graffiti wall, DJ Danno, and a live performance by the Kid City band at the beautiful Placita Dolores near Olvera Street. Guests met Kid City members, heard their stories first hand, and said a hearty "Ultreya!" by attending, pledging, and writing notes of encouragement to students away at college. Missed it? It was so much fun we're planning to do it again. Save the date of June 24, 2016, and click here for more info!

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