Created in response to a pressing need that persists today.
From a vision for the future, a partnership benefiting thousands of children.
LA’s BEST was formed as a unique partnership between the Mayor’s Office, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the private sector to address the alarming rise in the lack of adequate adult supervision of elementary school children during the critical hours between 3pm and 6pm. Since 1988, we’ve expanded from 10 schools and 1,000 students, to 200 schools, where we serve 25,000 children every school day across Los Angeles.
LA's BEST is Founded
Founded by Mayor Bradley, LA Superintendent of Schools Leonard M. Britton & the Education Council. Carla Sanger is named as LA’s BEST Coordinator. Al Minturn is named as lead LAUSD Administrator overseeing LA’s BEST, with Debe Loxton serving as Youth Services Regional Director supervising LA’s BEST sites in South LA.
10 school sites representing 1,000 students
First private corporate donation of $500,000 from Kaiser Permanente.
Received the U.S. Conference of Mayors Outstanding Achievement Award in Education.
Debe Loxton becomes LA’s BEST LAUSD Program Director.
Celebrate Science Program & Dance and the Drill Team Showcase competition were launched.
Received President Bush’s Annual Points of Light Award.
LA’s BEST students performed with Michael Jackson in the Super Bowl XXVII Halftime Show at the Rose Bowl.
First Community Jam Against Violence.
Carnegie Task Force on Learning in the Primary Grades, cited LA’s BEST as one of the five afterschool programs nationwide that takes responsibility for children’s learning and healthy development.
Helped write and advocate for AB326, the bill that earmarks $3.5 million statewide for school-based, before and after school child care. The bill passed and provided LA’s BEST with $1,087,182.
The Education Council created by Mayor Bradley split into two, forming the LA’s BEST Board of Directors, focused on governance and fundraising and the LA’s BEST Advisory Board, focused on program quality.
24 School Sites
First Family Brunch Fundraising Event.
Debe Loxton’s title changed to Chief Operating Officer.
Staff Development Department was founded with Eric Gurna named first Director of Staff Development.
Received funds from the City of Los Angeles and special support from Mayor Riordan to launch a comprehensive Professional Development Project.
Volunteer Department and Education Departments were founded.
UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation (CRESST) announced that LA’s BEST students demonstrate higher school attendance, higher English language adoptions rates and improved performance on standardized test in reading, math and language arts.
LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell Branch established to oversee all before and afterschool programs, including LA’s BEST.
105 school sites
Generous gifts from Eli Broad and others launched the After School Arts Program (ASAP).
Received Excellence in Education Award from U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.
The BEST Friends Board of young professionals was launched.
The BEST Fit department was founded, expanding programming focused on health, fitness and nutrition.
Department of Evaluation was founded to improve our capacity to measure success internally and partner with UCLA and other institutions to measure programmatic outcomes.
UCLA/CRESST study finds LA’s BEST students are 20% more likely to stay in school.
President & CEO, Carla Sanger, was recognized by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for her advocacy efforts ensuring Proposition 49/Senate Bill 638 passed into law, making $550 million available for after school education and safety programs for California.
UCLA/CRESST research study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice showed that LA’s BEST students are 30% less likely to commit juvenile crime than their peers.
Student Support Services was launched.
177 school sites
LA84 Foundation supported LA’s BEST softball, basketball, flag football and track and field programs.
With support from the Richard Riordan Foundation, the Digital Learning Department was launched.
NBA All Star Chris Paul and his CP3 Foundation co-hosted the annual LA’s BEST Health Festival.
We celebrated our 25th Anniversary with 191 school sites!
New President & CEO Eric Gurna.
Debe Loxton received the California Expanded Learning Visionary Leadership Award from the California Department of Education (CDE) for dedicating her career to creating innovative expanded learning programs for children. Read the press release here.
In partnership with LAUSD School Mental Health Department, launched an initiative to become a trauma-informed organization with support from W.M. Keck Foundation & Kaiser Permanente.
Together with the California Afterschool Alliance (CA3), LA’s BEST successfully advocated to achieve the first increase to state funding for afterschool in over a decade.
We celebrate our 30th Anniversary with 200 school sites representing 25,000 students!
Our advocacy efforts were successful and afterschool programs received an additional $50 million in ongoing funding for afterschool programs across California.
Our Summer Learning Program expanded to serve more students across the City of thanks to additional investment from Mayor Eric Garcetti.
When schools closed for in-person teaching on March 14, 2020, we had to abruptly halt our robust enrichment programming and focus on meeting the community’s immediate needs and cultivating connections with our students, families and staff. We pivoted to supporting the LAUSD Beyond The Bell Grab & Go Food Distribution Centers; maintaining a connection between staff and students by creating online engagement via LA’s BEST Connects; and increasing staff training.
We were unable to run our 2020 summer program for students; instead, staff worked at the Grab & Go Food Distribution Centers, participated in online workforce development, and worked in teams to plan for how we would support children and families in a radically altered educational landscape when the new school year begins.
Throughout the pandemic, 950 LA’s BEST staff members bravely rose to the challenge of meeting the community’s most immediate needs. To combat hunger, LA’s BEST staff members worked on the frontlines — in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and its Beyond the Bell branch — to distribute free meals and supplies at Grab-and-Go Centers. This initiative provided food not only to LA’s BEST families, but to all members of the community. The Centers also provided critical connectivity and emotional support to all.
LA’s BEST also provided staffing and logistics support for COVID testing at 42 LAUSD sites. While school campuses were closed, our staff members also provided in-person supervision for children of essential LAUSD employees, and for children with the greatest needs. And, to stay engaged with all LA’s BEST students and support families, we continued adding resources and videos from staff on our online community, LA’s BEST Connects.
In late April 2021, LAUSD schools re-opened for in-person instruction. However, the optional hybrid model left many parents in need of additional care. In response, LA’s BEST rose to the challenge of caring for students whose families opted for them to stay on campus either before or after in-person instruction occurred.
During that expanded learning time, LA’s BEST staff supported students’ asynchronous online learning, and facilitated COVID-safe enrichment activities. With training centered on social-emotional growth and trauma-resilience, our frontline program staff provided students with much-needed emotional support.
In June 2021, LA’s BEST recognized that the most significant challenge this summer was to create a safe space for children to have fun and be social while learning. We operated as part of the Beyond the Bell program in support of LAUSD’s Summer of Learning 2021 and included themed enrichment and physical activities that nurtured student learning and wellness. Our Summer Program, as always, was completely free to families, enabling parents to return to work knowing their children were safely engaged.
New President & CEO
As of June 6, 2022 David P. “Anderson” MSSE became the new President & CEO. Born and raised in Los Angeles, David is an energetic leader in the afterschool field. David has two decades of experience in the sector and a business mind woven in passion and care for positive change.