Mar Vista Family Center (MVFC) is located in a low-income, densely populated area of Los Angeles near the only federal housing project in West Los Angeles. The local residents are affected by violence, poverty, and lack of education. Each year nearly 1,300 children, teens, and adults of predominantly Hispanic origin benefit from MVFC’s programs. Some of the many positive outcomes are shown below.
Improving Educational Achievement
Between its inception in 1992 and the year 2013, MVFC’s By Youth for Youth (BYFY) Program offered counseling and college preparation work to more than 600 middle- and high-school students who, without assistance, would have been in danger of failing to graduate. Eighty-one percent of BYFY graduates enrolled in post-secondary institutions and fifty-three percent graduated in four years. Ninety-five percent of those BYFY graduates who were enrolled with MVFC since preschool graduate from high school and went on to college.
Reducing Reliance on Government Assistance
At the time of their enrollment, virtually all MVFC families receive government assistance. MVFC helps parents take responsibility for their families and provides training and referrals to help them achieve financial independence. Between 1995 and 2003, sixty-four percent of MVFC families became independent of all forms of government assistance.
The BYFY Program has given area youth the knowledge and support to avoid high-risk, negative behaviors that lead to trouble with the police and courts. Incarceration for serious crimes is almost non-existent among BYFY graduates. MVFC also offers support to extreme high-risk youth in the area, notably gang members. Of the over 100 such youth whom MVFC has assisted, the incarceration rate is approximately sixteen percent, far lower than for gang youth not receiving guidance.
Nearly 100 MVFC parents have completed UCLA Extension courses in Early Childhood Education and have received preschool teacher credentials. Many are now working at local preschools, including MVFC’s preschool. Regularly scheduled community-run street clean-ups and festivals have helped to noticeably decrease gang activity. Eighty residents have received Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.