100 Ways: Athletics


Published May 13, 2019 12:09 PM

Personalized Approach

Community Schools

Seeing the barrier that disadvantaged students face, UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District to create solutions.

In 2009, the partners opened the first UCLA Community School on the former site of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Students at the Robert F. Kennedy–UCLA Community School come from largely Hispanic and Asian immigrant communities in the Pico-Union and Koreatown neighborhoods. Central to the school’s success, says math teacher Maria Nakis, is its personalized approach. Each student is part of an advisory class that meets with the same teacher three times a week for two years.

Teachers at the RFK-UCLA Community School work to ensure that students are qualified to apply to a University of California campus. They steer them toward college-prep classes and make sure they know the deadlines for entrance exams. Each year, UCLA faculty, staff and students provide the school with more than 16,000 hours of mentoring and tutoring. As a result of these efforts, the number of students who enroll in college is rising steadily: In 2014, 74 percent of the graduating class attended college; in 2017, 86 percent did.

In 2017, UCLA began partnering with the declining Horace Mann School in inner-city Los Angeles. The approach at Mann-UCLA Community School is similar to that at RFK-UCLA, with an emphasis on mentoring and college preparation.

Medicine on the Move

Mobile Clinic Project

On a Wednesday evening near the corner of Sycamore and Romaine in West Hollywood, the contrast is stark — fresh-faced UCLA students in bright-blue T-shirts chatting up the mostly homeless, indigent men and women lined up on the sidewalk. The clients of the volunteer, student-run Mobile Clinic Project, hardened by their circumstances, are clearly glad to be there. In a society that typically shuns them, they are being attended to, listened to and treated with respect.

Every Wednesday for nearly two decades, under a physician’s supervision, UCLA medical, public health, law and undergraduate students have created a makeshift clinic out of a box truck leased from the university. Tarps and poles create partitions for exams that require privacy. Over-the-counter and prescription medications stock a makeshift pharmacy operating out of the back of the truck. In a nonjudgmental environment, the students offer basic medical care, legal and social advocacy, and compassionate connections.

The program began in 2000, when the Hollywood Food Coalition — which serves free meals to the area’s homeless and transient population — spoke to a UCLA public health faculty member about the need for health care among its clients. After conducting a needs assessment, two public health students recruited physicians and medical, law and undergraduate students to assist. Over the years, the program has expanded to include three locations in Santa Monica, including a homeless shelter and a mental health center.

UCLA volunteers greet the clients who turn out for the clinic; take their medical histories; treat ailments such as cuts, infections and coughs; dispense medication and basic supplies; offer counsel on social or legal issues; and facilitate referrals. For a largely ignored population, though, the tangible services are often secondary to the opportunity to be heard. And the students gain an insight into humanity that no classroom could dispense.