By Shirley Hawkins
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Housed in a nondescript building on Adams Boulevard, you could almost miss passing the Ed Center, a white brick edifice that has been providing after-school tutoring, grocery distribution and cultural expeditions to students since 2015.
The center, under the banner of the nonprofit Saving the West Foundation, provides tutoring assistance to children from fourth through the 12th grades. The center, which charges $6.25 for two hours of tutoring, ensures that students are performing at or above grade level while staff and volunteers follow Center for Disease Control guidelines.
“For families that cannot afford this rate, we work with them to find ways to provide partial or complete scholarships to our services,” said Alexandra Warren, CEO of the Saving the West Foundation.
“I just felt like one of the things our ‘give back’ efforts needed to consider were the disparities in education,” Warren said. “Statistics show that students who receive four years of tutoring assure a 95% graduation rate from high school. I felt that providing tutoring was one of the most important things that we could do.”
Warren added that the personalized tutoring has helped students’ grades improve at least one grade level.
“We have helped at least 400 to 500 children attend college,” Warren said. “The center is a safe haven for growth and a place for young people to thrive.”
Warren added that students from Yale, UCLA and USC volunteer their time to tutor the students.
“Our tutor program director Maribel Rosales has been wonderful when it comes to helping our students. She even attends parent/teacher meetings,” Warren said.
“I absolutely love working with the students and families,” said Rosales, who has worked at the center for two years and whose goal is to become a ninth grade math tutor. “A lot of our students are behind in their classes because they don’t have the correct tools to watch videos or do certain projects for school,” Rosales said, adding that the Los Angeles Unified School District has donated laptops to help the children achieve.
“We have a monitoring process where we keep our eyes on their grades and assignments,” Rosales said.
The nonprofit also has been helping students adjust to online learning as they take classes on Zoom.
“Prior to COVID, we would have a three-to-one ratio of tutors with students, but everything is online and digital now,” Warren said.
Fifteen-year-old Bella Harris said, “I started coming to the Ed Center a few months ago because I was getting lost in certain subjects,” she said. “Plus, I’m an only child and I was getting bored being locked up in the house.
“Coming to the Ed Center, I get the tutoring and the help I need. Attending the center has been a good experience from day one.”
Eleven-year-old Julian, who was attending a class through Zoom, said, “The center helps me with my grades. I like coming here.” He added that his favorite subjects were music, math and science.
Warren added that internship opportunities also are available for the older students.
Warren, who is from Colorado and grew up appreciating the wonders of nature, said the foundation also attempts to expose students to activities outside the community.
“We partner with environmentally like-minded organizations to pair our students with courses about farming, gardening and water conservation,” Warren said.
“During the summer we take inner-city youth on field trips [to places] such as farms, hydroelectric plants, aquariums, national parks, museums and college campuses around the city which helps them to bolster their confidence when looking at colleges and universities and careers they might not otherwise consider,” she added.
“Before COVID, we took the children to places like the Getty Museum where they learned about Greek architecture,” Warren added.
“And we took them to the beach. Some of the children experienced the beach in person for the first time,” Rosales added.
Once a month, the center also has grocery giveaways and they are gearing up for the next Christmas giveaway which will occur on Dec. 19.
But for Warren, her focus remains on the children.
“I love seeing a child’s eyes light up after he learns something new,” said Warren, explaining why she loves working at the center.
The Ed Foundation is located at 4505 W. Adams Blvd., and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.