UCLA Community School’s Commitment to Educational Access Pays Off

UCLA-LAUSD partnership produces a college bound student population in lowest income neighborhood in the district and the state.

Ever since she was little, Joselyne Franco wanted to go into medicine like her mother, who had been a nurse before emigrating from Guatemala. Growing up in a Los Angeles neighborhood where few students went to college and in a family that sometimes couldn’t afford the basics like notebooks, Franco saw her dream as out of reach.

But thanks in part to her middle school and high school teachers at the Robert F. Kennedy UCLA Community School located in Koreatown, Franco, now a UCLA junior, is preparing to take exams for medical school so she can become a doctor.

She’s not RFK UCLA’s only success story. Although 92% of the school’s K-12 students are low income — higher than the statewide and districtwide averages — 86% of its graduates go on to pursue higher education.

“We provide a place where everyone belongs,” said Karen Hunter Quartz, director of the Center for Community Schooling, which supports and shares the community school’s work, in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. “Young people feel welcome, validated, strong, and ready to take on a society that is stacked against them.”

RFK UCLA was launched in 2009 as a partnership between UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District. The school serves Koreatown and Pico-Union, some of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods. Residents are primarily from Mexico, Central America and South Korea — about two-thirds are foreign-born. RFK UCLA students are 81% Latino, 10% Asian, and 5% Filipino, and 29% are classified as English language learners, according to 2018-19 LAUSD records.
Recognizing education’s critical role in driving social mobility, UCLA determined that a community school was exactly the type of bold venture it should undertake to fulfill its civic responsibility to help narrow the city’s growing equity gap.

“Every young person — no matter her ZIP code or family income — should have the tools she needs to develop her talents and realize her dreams,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “The Robert F. Kennedy UCLA Community School has placed countless young Angelenos on the path to a higher education and has made our city even stronger by educating the leaders of today and tomorrow.”


To read the full story in UCLA Newsroom, visit this link.


Above: Joselyne Franco and Jeffrey Hayes, UCLA students who attended the Robert F. Kennedy UCLA Community School in Koreatown. 

Photo by Reed Hutchinson, UCLA