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Transforming Schools and Neighborhoods Through Digital Inclusion

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
8:00am - 3:30pm PDT
UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center
425 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095
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The Social Science Research Council’s Portrait of Los Angeles sponsored by Southern California Grantmakers provides a clear and disturbing characterization of life in one of America’s most populous metropolitan areas.  The report reveals stunning differences in quality of life that are highly correlated with geography as well as race/ethnicity and the socioeconomic composition of communities.  Utilizing the “Human Development Index” as its barometer, the report shows that in critical areas such as health, education, and income, gross inequities limit access to opportunity for many residents and contribute to the persistence of deeply entrenched social and economic disparities. 

These inequities are exacerbated by the Digital Divide:  the disparities in access to technology and the Internet that prevent the most disadvantaged households from fully participating in the 21st century economy.  In Los Angeles County, many residents in the poorest communities are not able to get online at home and are unable to participate fully in the digital world.  This impacts their ability to apply for jobs, access public services or communicate with their children’s teachers.  For children in these communities who often attend under-resourced schools, the disparities in access to technology contributes to the disadvantages they face in preparing themselves for college and future careers that make it possible to break the cycle of poverty.  These inter-related factors and forces of economic disparities in communities with concentrated and persistent poverty constitute a “wall of poverty” that can be tackled only with a comprehensive, multi-faceted strategy that transforms schools and neighborhoods with greater impacts at scale than accomplished to date.   

Civic leaders and community organizations are partnering to convene thought leaders and policymakers to develop a "Partnership Framework" to align and integrate public and private investments in low-income neighborhoods.  The Partnership Framework will build upon existing (a) education improvement initiatives, (b) place-based interventions, (c) cross-sector strategies, (d) digital inclusion programs, and (e) philanthropic coalitions to change systems through purposeful collaboration with increased accountability for greater impact and better results for residents in high-need communities.  It is envisioned that the Conference will gather essential stakeholder input and secure requisite leadership to develop a Partnership Framework for changing systems to achieve improved outcomes.



  1. Explore possibilities for developing strong and sustainable partnerships among education, local government, and employers to address systemic issues related to inequality in the Los Angeles Region.
  2. Identify existing efforts and strengthen new regional strategies for Digital Inclusion for youth and families.
  3. Elevate and strengthen current efforts that promote the development of educational and professional pathways in the high-tech sector and emerging industries for low-income youth in the Los Angeles Region.
Featured Speakers

Móníca García, President
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board

Manuel Pastor, Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity
University of Southern California (USC)

Austin Beutner, Superintendent
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

Francisco Rodriguez, Chancellor
Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD)

Kamau Bobb, National STEM Expert, Founding Senior Director
Constellations Center for Equity in Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Oscar Menjivar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Teens Exploring Technology

Jaime Casap, Education Evangelist

JR DeShazo, Chair, Department of Public Policy
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Gary Segura, Dean, Luskin School of Public Policy
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)


8:30AM Welcome and Introduction of Conference

Gary Segura, Dean, Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles

Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSEIS); Founder, Center for the Transformation of Schools, University of California, Los Angeles

8:45AM Call to Action

Mónica García, President, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board

9:15AM The Disparity Challenge and Imperative for Equity

Manuel Pastor, Professor, Sociology, American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

9:30AM – 10:30AM – Session I:  Education Pathways to Opportunity and Inclusion

The Los Angeles Region is the third largest tech market in the United States, and the fastest growing.   However, current and future workforce projections indicate a strong need to bridge a glaring skills gap.  Many low-income middle and high school students in Los Angeles who tend to be geographically and economically isolated represent an underutilized talent pool that can benefit from meaningful school-based and work-based learning opportunities that expose and prepare students for a dynamic and changing world. 

  • What current LA Region efforts represent models that address opportunity and skills gaps simultaneously? 
  • How can those efforts inform the spread of new knowledge and talent across the region? 
  • How can they be scaled up?

10:30AM- 12:15PM – Session II:  Realigning Resources for Systems Change

The Social Science Research Council’s Portrait of Los Angeles illustrates the inter-related factors that begin to explain the racial, economic and social disparities prevalent in many neighborhoods across Los Angeles. These forces can be tackled only with comprehensive strategies that build communities and transform schools. 

  • What cross-sector approaches should be considered to support resource alignment for
    systems change? 
  • What current efforts can be strengthened or accelerated? 
  • How can Digital Inclusion be incorporated into the strategies?

12:30 PM-1:15 PM Lunch:  Keynote Address

Kamau Bobb, Founding Senior Director of the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing,
Georgia Institute of Technology; Google Diversity

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM – Session III:  Role of Employers and Philanthropy

Employers and philanthropy partners play a unique role in leveraging resources and people with the intent of building stronger, healthier communities for low-income youth.  Their role in supporting public-private partnerships that invest in young people, families and schools is especially important if we wish to grow our own local talent for quality jobs.

  • What can employers and philanthropic groups do differently to support more intentional pathways to education and careers? 
  • What current public-private partnerships for Los Angeles Region youth could be strengthened or scaled up? 
  • What systems changes would make a difference for your involvement and investment? 

3:00PM – 3:30PM – Closing Remarks and Next Steps

Partners and Co-Sponsors Steering Committe

John Garcia III, Program Officer, Education, California Community Foundation
Renee Martinez, President Emeritus, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Community College District
Sophia Mendoza, Director, Los Angeles Unified School District Instructional Technology Initiative
Harvey Kawasaki, Manager, Service Integration Branch, Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office
Karla Pleitez Howell, Director of Education Equity, Advancement Project
Dave Sheldon, Vice President, Southern California Grantmakers
Deycy Hernandez, Consultant, InnerCity Struggle
Joseph Bishop, Director, Center for the Transformation of Schools, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
Iris Zuñiga, Executive Vice President, Youth Policy Institute
Oscar Cruz, Chief Executive Officer, Families in Schools
Sophie Fanelli, Chief of Programs, Stuart Foundation
Claudia Keller, Chief Development Officer, LA Promise Fund
Bob Cabeza, Vice President, Community Development, YMCA of Greater Long Beach
Cesar Zaldivar-Motts, Executive Director, Southeast Community Development Corporation
Sunne Wright McPeak, President and CEO, California Emerging Technology Fund
Larry Best, Director of Neighborhood Transformation, California Emerging Technology Fund


No cost to participate

Who May Attend
Open to the public, no SCG membership required

Accommodations for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability and require accommodation in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Larry Best from CETF at l[email protected] to discuss your specific needs.


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