GPSN Awards $1.5 Million to Expand High-Performing L.A. Unified Schools

Grants will help expand programs at Diego Rivera Learning Complex Public Service Community School and King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science.

April 13, 2017 (LOS ANGELES, CA) – Great Public Schools Now (GPSN), a non-profit dedicated to identifying and replicating successful educational programs in underserved communities, announced today as part of a partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (L.A. Unified) that it will spend $1.5 million to replicate successful educational practices at two schools: Diego Rivera Learning Complex Public Service Community School and King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science.

The grants will help address the need for more high-quality L.A. Unified campuses in South Los Angeles by expanding schools that have a successful track record. Diego Rivera Public Service and King/Drew students perform significantly better academically than their peers and both campuses have reached their maximum student capacity. 

L.A. Unified will use the funding to expand Diego Rivera Public Service and King/Drew schools to other sites, adding space for 1,000 students over three years. The two schools currently serve about 2,000 students.

“These schools are two great examples of success at L.A. Unified,” said L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King. “We are happy to serve more students and give them the quality education they deserve.”

The new school sites have not been finalized, and L.A. Unified officials will spend the next several months identifying key personnel. The new campuses will open in the fall of 2018.

After administrators are hired, they will spend much of the 2017 school year familiarizing themselves with the educational practices at Diego Rivera Public Service and King/Drew as well as the needs of students at the expansion sites.  

The application was reviewed by a respected committee of educational experts: Derrick Chau, Senior Executive Director of Instruction for L.A. Unified, Elmer Roldan, Director of Education Policy Programs & Policy for United Way LA, Dan Nieman, Corporate Citizenship Manager for Northrup Grumman, Becca Bunn, independent education consultant, Jamie Prijatel, independent education consultant, and Maria Casillas, a GPSN board member.

Chau was nominated to the committee by L.A. Unified Supt. Michelle King, Roldan served as Deputy of Community Affairs for current L.A. Unified Board member Monica Garcia, Nieman was Director of Community Affairs for former L.A. Unified board member Marlene Canter, and Casillas is a former L.A. Unified Regional Superintendent.

The grants were available to expand non-selective, high-performing magnet, pilot or traditional schools where at least half of the students met or exceeded proficiency in English or math on state tests and the school as a whole performed significantly better in math and English than surrounding schools with similar demographics. At least 75 percent of students at the schools also qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

Both Diego Rivera Public Service and King/Drew are located in south Los Angeles, one of 10 geographic areas that GPSN works in. L.A. Unified Local District South received GPSN grants to plan replication of successful educational practices at those schools in the fall.

“Here in Los Angeles, we have programs and schools that we know are working for our deserving students.  Working with GPSN, we now have a chance to celebrate and replicate two of our high-quality schools, giving opportunity to even more students in our communities,” said Christopher Downing, Superintendent of Local District South.

The grants will be the first in a series of annual grants to support L.A. Unified schools. As the selected campuses implement the grants, GPSN and L.A. Unified officials will track results to see what educational strategies can be replicated and how the grant-making process can be improved.

“We believe this strategy of dramatically expanding schools is a smart way of ensuring that all students will have access to the best that schools have to offer,” said Myrna Castrejón, Executive Director for GPSN. “We look forward to seeing the great work L.A. Unified will do for the students of this city and will continue to work with the district to expand the program to include even more schools.”

GPSN is also seeking ideas for future collaborations and will be holding a town hall forum to discuss education and gather feedback from parents and community members on April 22nd from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the SteelWorkers OldTimers Foundation at 3355 E. Gage Ave., Huntington Park, 90255.     




For Great Public Schools Now questions, contact:

Jason Song

(213) 223-2018


For L.A. Unified questions, contact:

Shannon Haber

(213) 241-4575