Giselle Fernandez and Mattie McFadden Lawson

City Year Los Angeles

City Year Los Angeles, an education-based nonprofit that places AmeriCorps members in systemically under-resourced Los Angeles schools, announced in July that national philanthropic leader Mattie McFadden-Lawson and  award-winning Spectrum News 1 anchor Giselle Fernandez have been selected as the organization’s new board co-chairs.

The announcement came as the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified structural, racial and economic inequities in Los Angeles – inequities City Year has been addressing for over a decade, but that are now more pronounced than ever as communities of color face staggering job loss rates, higher rates of COVID-19 infection and deaths, and disproportionate learning loss.

The two women, who previously served as members of the board, now lead the board to increase City Year’s impact as the organization’s work takes on new urgency. With studies indicating that learning loss from school closures could leave some students up to a year behind on academic gains, City Year’s tutoring and mentorship approach offers a lifeline to students. A recent study found that students who received support from City Year demonstrated improved social, emotional and academic outcomes, and that moving up just one level in social-emotional skills is equivalent to gaining an entire school year of growth in math or English.

Prior to school closures, City Year Los Angeles members served students in more than 25 school sites in Los Angeles Unified and Inglewood School Districts with their Whole School Whole Child approach. As schools closed their doors and shifted to distance learning following the COVID-19 pandemic, members served 2,905 students in virtual classrooms, providing 329 hours of in-class support.

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