A group of UCLA undergraduate students have worked together to raise $20,000 to Santa Monica's Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC).
The funds, which will be used to support the organization’s Access Center and its mental health and SWASHLOCK programs, were distributed as part of a unique class that teaches students about the role of philanthropy, particularly the non-profit sector in Los Angeles.
OPCC associate director Chris Miller said SWASHLOCK is a service that provides homeless individuals with access to restroom and shower facilities, and lockers to store personal items while they are at work or until they can find more stable housing.
“There isn’t anything like it in Santa Monica,” said Miller. “The vast majority of our clients are on the streets. They’re in the parks. What we try to do is engage them, bring them inside, we start to do case management. We want to bring people off the streets and get them into permanent housing as quickly as possible.”
Miller said that the organization has been able to double the UCLA grant by leveraging it into a matching gift from another donor.
OPCC wasn’t the only organization to pick up a check at the Dec. 10 reception held at UCLA.
The other recipients were:
-- Pacoima Beautiful, a group dedicated to creating a healthy, environmentally safe, prosperous and sustainable community, received $30,000 grant to fund its Summer Youth Institute.
-- P.S. Arts, which provides arts education to children in Venice, received $30,000 to support the development and implementation of an innovative arts curriculum designed to foster an inclusive learning environment for students with and without special needs at the Grand View Boulevard Elementary School and the McBride Elementary School for Handicapped Children.
-- The Little Tokyo Service Center was awarded $20,000 to support the new Casa Heiwa and Angelina Apartments Mentorship Program, which helps youth achieve higher academic goals with after-school tutoring, mentorship, counseling, and a variety of enrichment activities, including computer lessons, arts and crafts, creative projects and sports competitions.
Funding for the UCLA class was provided by the Texas-based Once Upon a Time Foundation.
The course, "Philanthropy as Civic Engagement," reflects UCLA's strong commitment to community service and engagement and to developing future leaders.
It is also emblematic of campus' long track record of providing innovative and dynamic undergraduate education.
The Once Upon a Time Foundation has funded similar philanthropy classes over the past several years at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University and the University of Texas, to name a few.
The organization has committed funds that will help UCLA run the class at least once again.
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