$1.5 MILLION RAISED TO RETURN NON-PROFIT DANCE PROGRAMS TO PICO-UNION KIDS
Located in the heart of Pico-Union, on the property of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy's Burlington Campus, the state-of-the art studios, each of 1,500 square foot walnut dance floors, were built with $1.5 million in funds raised by Pueblo Nuevo Development and The Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation.
The Gabriella Foundation will use the dance studios to provide daily dance instruction to 600 pre-schoolers, elementary and middle school students at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy and, after-hours, to teach dance to approximately 350-400 children from the surrounding community.
The opening of the new studio is a triumph for Gabriella Foundation Executive Director Liza Bercovici, who since 2000 has partnered with Camino Nuevo to teach dance at CNCA’s multiple inner-city campuses. In order to serve the school’s MacArthur Park site, in 2001 the Gabriella Foundation converted leased storefront space across the street into two 1,800 square foot dance studios. For the next four years, the non-profit taught approximately 50 to 60 classes per week both to Camino students and, after hours, to hundreds of children from the surrounding community. Although the property housing the dance studios was dilapidated and uncared for, with antiquated plumbing and homeless individuals occupying the entryways, the dance program was highly successful; dance classes were jammed from the outset with neighborhood children with long waiting lists for openings. The Foundation was forced to discontinue dance classes in 2005 at the site when the building’s owner declared the building occupied by the program to be structurally unsound.
Bercovici moved as many of the kids as she could to the Gabriella Foundation's studios at 631 Commonwealth, but the ability to serve all the kids was limited and many parents were not able to transport their kids to the Commonwealth site, even though it was less than one mile away.
Since then, Bercovici has been searching for a new facility with which to resurrect the MacArthur Park program. Philip Lance, Pueblo Nuevo's Executive Director, would be instrumental in helping achieve her goal.
Pueblo Nuevo Development is a nonprofit dedicated to provide economic and educational advancement opportunities for MacArthur Park neighborhood residents. Pueblo Nuevo founded Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in 1999.
Lance shared Bercovici's vision to resurrect the dance program, and by 2007 acquired enough funding to purchase a 5,000 square foot warehouse alongside the Camino Nuevo school, earmarking it for future dance studios. But for the next year the warehouse sat unfinished, until Lance and Bercovici secured the remaining funds needed to complete the project.
On Friday, November 21, the new studios will be dedicated as "Gabriella's Place," memorializing Bercovici's late daughter Gabriella, a 13-year-old who loved to dance. Bercovici founded the Gabriella Foundation in her daughter's memory in 1999. Today the foundation teaches over 166 weekly classes in ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz, modern dance, creative movement, and ballroom to 1400-1600 Los Angeles inner-city kids.
With the opening of the new studios come much-needed enrichment opportunities for kids challenged to grow up in a neighborhood where, per United Way Statistics, 34% of families fall below the poverty line and 56% of the population lacks a high school degree.
Lance says the new studios will improve CNCA's capacity to provide its students with a high quality physical education program. He also believes the dance classes taught there will contribute to a consistent upward trend in Camino Nuevo’s academic assessment results.
For the Gabriella Foundation, the new studios create opportunities for hundreds of would-be dancers, many of which have been on a four-year waiting list to enter the program.
Says Bercovici, "These studios are the fulfillment of our organization’s dream to bring our dance program back to the Pico-Union community. There is a wealth of talented, eager, dedicated would-be dancers here, but little or nothing available to them in the way of arts instruction outside of school, and not enough available to them during the school day either.
"For kids who want to study dance seriously, this is a big step forward.”
WHO/WHAT: Pueblo Nuevo Development, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, and the Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation will celebrate the dedication of “Gabriella’s Place."
WHEN: From 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, November 21, 2008. Refreshments and dedication ceremony will be followed by dance performances at 11:30.
WHERE: 661 South Burlington Avenue, Los Angeles 90057. Parking available on Burlington Avenue. Enter from Wilshire or 7th Street.
OTHER: Pueblo Nuevo Development and the Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation would like to thank the Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation, the Employees and Associates of the Capital Group Companies and the William C. Bannerman Foundation for making this project possible.
About Pueblo Nuevo Development - Pueblo Nuevo Development is a nonprofit community development corporation that has been active in the MacArthur Park neighborhood since 1993. Pueblo Nuevo founded Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in 1999 and continues to work closely with the school developing education and recreational facilities for the community. The mission of Pueblo Nuevo Development is to provide opportunities for economic and educational advancement for the residents of the greater MacArthur Park neighborhood. For more information, visit www.pueblonuevo.org
About Camino Nuevo Charter Academy - Camino Nuevo Charter Academy is a network of college preparatory public charter schools, serving over 1,500 students in pre-school through high school. It was founded in August 2000 by Pueblo Nuevo development, a nonprofit community development corporation in the MacArthur Park/Pico Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. This neighborhood is one of the poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The mission of the school is to educate students in a college preparatory program to be literate, critical thinkers and independent problem solvers who are agents of social change.
About Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation - Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) established in 1999 in memory of Gabriella Axelrad, a thirteen-year-old who loved to dance. Through it's program everybody dance!, the Foundation provides weekly standards-based dance instruction in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, creative movement, ballroom and modern dance to over 1,400 underserved inner-city children in Los Angeles. The Foundation also operates Gabriella Charter School, serving 152 children, grades K-5. All students receive one hour of daily dance instruction and dance is integrated into a curriculum which is otherwise closely aligned with State content standards. For more information, visit www.everybodydance.org
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