Outside the Ivory Tower
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TO SHAPE THE FUTURE
YOU NEED TO TALK ABOUT, YOU CAN BE OPEN."
MANY OF THE KIDS growing up in parts of Inglewood and along
the Crenshaw corridor mottled with poverty, broken homes and gang
violence, the thought of getting into college is, at best, a distant
dream. Simply getting decent grades and sometimes just showing
up for school are the more immediate challenges.
for those with the motivation, there are options. And so, from 4
to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, some 200 students show up at
four community centers and local schools to participate in the Students
Heightening Academic Performance through Education (SHAPE) program.
There, UCLA students from the African American Student Union serve
as their tutors and counselors.
Jermisha Armstrong, a sixth-grader at Ascension Lutheran School
in Inglewood, attends the program at the High Standard Education
Center (HSEC), a storefront community center on Crenshaw Boulevard.
come to get my homework done," she says. "It's quiet here.
They break it down for me. And they help me do it instead of doing
it for me this way my mind gets to know how [to do it] next
five years ago, SHAPE's key goal is to increase college eligibility
for educationally disadvantaged students, says program director
Mia Watson '99. While the program has its success stories, the fact
remains, says Watson, that "instead of going to college, many
youth in this community find themselves caught up in the struggle
for basic survival."
kids sign up for SHAPE because their parents make them do it, she
admits. But eventually, she says, many decide on their own that
they want to be there.