UCLA celebrates its community impact during downtown reception

Award winners Larry Frank (Tom Bradley Local Leader of the Year) and Howard Welinsky (Advocate of the Year) pose with former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and AVC Keith Parker during the UCLA in Downtown Los Angeles reception. (all photos by Reed Hutchinson)

Just above the Spring Street steps that lead to Los Angeles City Hall, approximately 200 UCLA faculty, staff, students and alumni mingled Thursday evening with community leaders, elected officials and staff members from local government.

The UCLA in Downtown Los Angeles reception was the culmination of three weeks of local advocacy efforts by students, faculty, staff and alumni who traveled across the county to city council and county supervisor offices. All in all, UCLA has more than 200 programs that work with more than 1,200 community partners.

“Being in a public institution, all of our students — all of us — should have a public sense of purpose, and we should take these opportunities to work with the community, and to actually strengthen those values,” Chancellor Gene Block said to the crowd. “They contribute to the well-being of our city and are an essential part of what makes UCLA, UCLA.”

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Catalyst Program Of The Year: Social Enterprise Academy Seeks Nonprofit Sustainability

Q Youth Foundation student and nonprofit representatives brainstorm their UCLA Social Enterprise Academy pitch. (all photos courtesy Social Enterprise Academy)

The founders of the Social Enterprise Academy saw a need to help diversify the postgraduate possibilities for business and economics-minded students on campus who were struggling to find their fit.

“We had a lot of students who were learning business theory … but they were learning it in a way that was really textbook-based,” said Anna Shelton, senior associate director of social sciences academic engagement. “That’s good, but the practice of it is so different.”

Enter Social Enterprise Academy, which chooses approximately 40-50 junior and senior students each year to work with about 10 Los Angles-area nonprofits. The UCLA Department of Economics created the program, which takes place over two quarters. Students from any major can apply, and more than 100 do each year.


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Tom Bradley Local Leader of the Year: Larry Frank Embodies Community Spirit

LA Trade Tech President Larry Frank speaks during the MOU signing for the SLATE-Z Promise Zone. (photo by Jonathan Van Dyke)

There will be a little bit of serendipity when Los Angeles Trade Tech President Larry Frank accepts the UCLA Tom Bradley Local Leader of the Year award.

Frank himself admitted, “I always run a million miles away from awards.” But this one will have some personal meaning for him. The trailblazing mayor is actually partially responsible for Frank’s ties with UCLA.

“He wrote me a beautiful letter to get me into UCLA law school, so it is really profound to be receiving an award named after Tom Bradley and through UCLA,” he said.

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Landmark Program of the Year: Community Scholars Work Toward Lasting Impacts

Community Scholars students brainstorm for final presentations at mayor’s office in 2014. (photo courtesy Community Scholars)

When the Community Scholars program convenes each year, the program’s impact doesn’t come to an end upon the handing in of research initiatives and reports.

Launched in 1991 and sponsored by the UCLA Labor Center and Department of Urban Planning, Community Scholars has now provided 25 years of opportunities to inspire social justice, and provide groundbreaking reports in support of economic justice. Students troubleshoot, in class, various and immediate topics taking place across the city and pair with local practitioners, activists and community leaders to develop actionable research and plans.

“It’s not just, OK, a report gets generated, used to some extent, and then that is the end of the story,” said Chris Tilly, program director and urban planning professor.

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Undocumented Students Scholarship Fund Gains Helpful Allies

Chancellor Gene Block chats with students and donors during a special undocumented luncheon. (photos by Jonathan Van Dyke)

Martin came to the United States when he was 15 years old. His parents did not make the trip with him, and to make ends meet, he soon began to work in the tomato fields in California. Now, years later, he is an undocumented student going to school for nursing.

“How did I get into UCLA?” he asked rhetorically, but with a big smile. “It’s been quite a journey.”

UCLA officials know of approximately 650 undocumented students currently attending the university, and they also know there are likely many more. Chancellor Gene Block hosted a special lunch to place an emphasis on how the greater Bruin community might help these students moving forward, specifically through the Undocumented Students Scholarship Fund.

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Local Government Advocacy Days Build Lasting UCLA Connections

Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson holds a handout showing UCLA’s direct impact on the lives of residents in his district. (all photos by Jonathan Van Dyke)

Matthew Flesock, an assistant manager of a UCLA Health program that has set up fitness centers in 103 LAUSD schools, waited anxiously to talk to L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz about the new gym the program recently established at Hamilton High School as well as one opening up soon at Emerson Middle School, located in Koretz’s West L.A. district.

When time came for the Sept. 28 meeting at Koretz’s Wilshire Boulevard office, Flesock gave the city councilman a quick rundown on the UCLA Health’s Sound Body Sound Mind program and its positive impact on young people’s health.

This was all good news to Koretz, who said he had never heard of the program before. He expressed excitement about seeing the Emerson facilities when the program launches in December.

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