The Mar Vista Family Center (MVFC) operates on a sustainable and cooperative model through which families remain involved with the Center across generations from early childhood all the way through adulthood.
Through its unique Shared Responsibility Curriculum Model, MVFC has helped transform a community once filled with urban gang violence and unsafe streets into a thriving, healthy community — and given its residents a safe space in which to learn, grow, and lead.
MVFC was founded in 1977 as a preschool for low-income families that aimed to engage parents as partners in the education of their children. In 1980, after functioning in a public school bungalow for three years, a preschool facility was built at the end of a cul-de-sac in the same crime-ridden area that a local gang called home. Three weeks after the preschool opened, the building was burned down. Realizing that the success of a rebuilt preschool would depend on the empowerment of the community, youths, and parents to play a larger role in the life of the preschool, MVFC’s founders developed a model of increased community involvement and personal responsibility. Parents, teens, and other members of the community became classroom volunteers, preschool teachers, mentors, fundraisers, and community advocates. As additional services have been added over the years MVFC continues to involve the community in the decision-making and running of its programs. MVFC’s long-term involvement with entire families has resulted in improved family functioning, decreased domestic violence, and improved youths’ academic successes and rates of attendance at institutions of higher education.
Our Programs: A Holistic Approach
MVFC currently operates within three main program areas: Early Childhood Education, Youth, and Community. These three program areas complement each other in a whole-family process, with age- and status-appropriate activities for all family members. Parents and their young children participate together in the Baby and Me and Preschool Programs, where children acquire basic learning skills and their parents practice life and parenting skills. After graduation from the Preschool Program, children are encouraged to move on to the Youth Program – and its wealth of educational, recreational, and leadership activities – while their parents find new activities in the Community Program. Many parents in the Community Program are joined by their teenagers who have successfully led and mentored youth projects and are ready to work towards the achievement of broad community goals.
To help families make positive changes in their lives, MVFC is committed to the achievement of three goals:
- Development of Leaders: MVFC believes that each child, teen, and adult has the capacity to identify his or her personal assets, create partnerships, and take leadership roles in the healthy development of their community.
- Educational Enrichment: MVFC believes that individuals benefit from academic achievement and the feeling of self-worth that comes from furthering one’s learning.
- Promotion of Personal Growth: MVFC believes that all individuals are capable of addressing their challenges to achieve growth and success.