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Volunteers & Mentors - Kid City is Kid City thanks to you! 


(Above, Jeff Pawling and Karen Chavez)

This fall, a corps of extraordinary people have spent long hours, and sometimes late hours, helping students finish personal statements and submit college applications. The students return with smiles on their face and feel very fortunate to have people who care about them so deeply!

Below are some volunteer facts :)

75 amazing individuals volunteered at Kid City this fall.

With their help, Kid City supported 50 High School Seniors with their college applications and personal statements.

9 of those students came in the week UC/CSU applications were due and were still able to get their applications submitted on time because of amazing drop-in mentors who stayed past closing hours and also because of our one-to-one mentors who were helping their students wrap up their applications or had already finished.

The average student at Kid City this fall was helped by at least 2-3 volunteers including mentors, music instructors, online readers, etc.

On a given week 35-40 volunteers were hard at work at Kid City AND

Kid City volunteers logged in about 80-100 volunteer hours a week this fall.

If each volunteer was to get paid a minimum wage, this is an investment of about $14,000+

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An extraordinary act of thoughtfulness started a semi-annual tradition of hope

As a retired schoolteacher, Carolyn Tokunaga resonated with Kid City's work.  After learning about Kid City's college program, Carolyn conjured up a way for the congregation at Centenary United Methodist Church, filled with talented and caring people, to extend their love and care to Kid City's first generation college students. The first project was Valentine’s Day themed care-packages. Centenary members sprang into action on short notice, bought notebooks, scantrons, pens, paper, cup of noodles, and toiletries, creating 100 care packages and raising the money for postage. Many Centenary members were also the first in their families to attend college. They remember the fears and insecurities they felt, much the same as Kid City students, and included handwritten notes to encourage students on their path through college.

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Youth speak out!

20604394_1450937438324013_6361882894795783821_n.jpgAs a member of the College for All Coalition, the Urban Foundation has joined a grassroots movement to promote equity in higher education. This incredible partnership, spearheaded by Urban Foundation board chair Stewart Kwoh and our good friends at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, has provided Kid City students with training in policy and advocacy, and the opportunity to tell stories that speak to the importance for equity in higher education. Here are some highlights!

 On May 4, Erick Gonzalez testified at the oversight hearing for SB 1050 (College Readiness Block Grant), and was greeted and thanked by Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon.


20604199_1450937458324011_2177587648704499207_n.jpgThen on June 21, Laura Cuellar, Kid City Program Director, accompanied 12 high school and college students on the College for All Coalition day in Sacramento. Petrona Garcia spoke at a legislative briefing, and all 12 students participated in legislative visits to their state representatives.

And on August 28, Kid City student Jason Granados (UCSB) and staff member Carlos Beltran testified at a Sacramento hearing on Young Men of Color led by Education Trust West. Carlos and Jason’s personal stories illustrated many of the key findings in the Ed Trust West report.


 Just recently, Laura Cuellar, Kid City Program Director, and six young people tell their stories to the UC Board of Regents in September:


Earlier that week, Kid City students Kimberly Fabian (UCLA) and Petrona Garcia (UCSB) were featured panelists at the National College Access Network conference workshop, “Setting Your Advocacy Agenda and Engaging Students in the Process” with Alison DeLucca, of So Cal CAN, facilitating.


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Our annual summer leadership program, Splash of LA, has also come a long way!  What began as a small event is now a grand event that friends and families look forward to every summer.  Splash of LA 2017 was a hit! 

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Frances Melchor & Alma Ventura Professional Attire Scholarship Shopping Trip

Kid City Hope Place's college access program started with formal college access programming the summer of 2012.  Five years later, through support from our community and donors, Kid City not only continues this tradition but is now additionally able to provide summer programs to keep students engaged and motivated all year long... in air conditioned rooms!  

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Get To Know Them: Summer '17 Interns

20170719_130239.jpg During Kid City’s busy summer, the program is made possible by staff, volunteers and of course, interns. All of the interns are young adults ready to share their passion for education equality with new and returning KC participants alike. With jobs ranging from teaching assistants to graphic designers, they all bring a little piece of who they are to our community, making it fun and open, as always. Take your time to meet some of them here!


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Urban Internship: A Summer Teaching Peace


LA Native, Ricardo Alcantar, found himself sharing a living space with three other interns this summer. One from Los Angeles, one from Massachusetts and one from Mississippi. Although from different backgrounds, they came together to be part of the Urban Foundation’s  Summer Urban Internship.

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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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