Watts Learning Center


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The challenge: How to overcome barriers to quality education in Watts

Established in 1997, Watts Learning Center empowers kindergarten through sixth grade students to become some of the highest achieving students in the area and the state. Located in the traditionally underserved and underperforming south Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, the school's founders believed that they could make an impact in the community through a quality education program. However, with a 95% African American population, more than 90% of students socioeconomically disadvantaged, and no permanent facility - the school needed a strong support system to help their students achieve.

The solution: A community coming together to redefine public education

Watts Learning Center has not only created a learning community within their school, but also has successfully mobilized a community to actively support public education. Each member of Watts Learning Center community is driven by an unwavering belief that all children can learn.

Embracing the needs of each individual student is an integral part of the success at Watts Learning Center. If children are having difficulty learning, the teachers and staff take full responsibility to find ways to help that student achieve.

All families are welcome and embraced at the school. In addition to parental support, the school has Americorps volunteers and Seniorcorps Foster Grandparents in every classroom.

Beyond the classroom walls, Watts Learning Center staff created the "Passport to the World" program for international travel, providing trips to South Africa, Senegal and The Gambia, and Ghana, Togo and Benin, West Africa. This program gives students a taste of the world rich with tradition and culture and the opportunity to share gifts at orphanages and hospitals - making them better citizens. In fundraising for the trip, students and staff make themselves visible in the community through selling snacks and holding events.

The results:

Recognized for their success in improving the academic achievement of their students, Watts Learning Center received the Title I Academic Achievement Award in 2004.

Watts Learning Center has steadily increased its API score over the years, with a school high of 824 in 2008, a five point increase from the growth score of 819 in 2007. After 10 years of hard work, Watts Learning Center was named California Charter School of the year by the California Charter Schools Association in 2007.

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