L.A. Unified, UCLA Announce New Community School in South Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 15, 2017) - Building upon an existing partnership, UCLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Tuesday to design a new community school, their second joint effort aimed at fostering a college-going culture in Los Angeles.

The Horace Mann UCLA Community School in South Los Angeles, which would become a public school serving grades 6 through 12 with the possibility of expanding to K-12, is envisioned as a cornerstone for a rigorous, personalized college-prep education. The District and UCLA are collaborating to design the school, which would expand the grades on the campus and possibly reverse years of declining enrollment. The agreement between L.A. Unified and UCLA approved at this week’s school board meeting formalized the partnership to operate the school. 

“We are pleased to support the partnership with UCLA and Horace Mann Middle School. UCLA’s past success in establishing K-12 community schools and partnerships have been known to produce outstanding results. UCLA’s investment in the local community and K-12 education is to be commended,” said Board Vice President Dr. George J. McKenna III.

Horace Mann Middle School in South Los Angeles will add 9th grade at the start of the 2017-18 school year, and expand through 12th grade by 2020. If feasible, elementary grades will be added, making it a K-12 school.

“We appreciate the commitment UCLA has demonstrated to Mann and the community,” said L.A. Unified Local District West Superintendent Cheryl Hildreth.  “We are excited by the support and the impact this will have on our students.”

The school would be tailored to the needs of the neighborhood, and informed by the success of the original K-12 UCLA Community School at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex in Koreatown.  Since that school opened in 2009, the college acceptance rate has more than tripled to 99 percent.

Horace Mann would continue to be open to children who live in the surrounding neighborhoods, and would not require a selective application.

“We are proud and excited about the ways that our growing partnership with L.A. Unified can unify the neighborhood and prepare all students to graduate from high school ready for college, careers and civic life,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “This is a natural extension of UCLA’s long-standing commitment to public education and community involvement, and a reflection of our perseverance to drive social change.”

Since 2015, a partnership team of teachers, students, parents, and UCLA educators has been meeting to design the new school, develop relationships, provide resources, and build a long-term commitment. Early indicators show improvements at the school: 87 percent of boys passed math in 2016 compared to 49 percent in 2015; and from 2014 to 2016, 29 percent more students reported feeling safe at school.

In 2016, UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies began partnering with Horace Mann. Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, the dean of the graduate school said, “UCLA’s network of diverse schools is emerging as a laboratory where we are learning and sharing solutions to 21st century educational challenges.” He added, “Public universities should be at the forefront of partnering with local teachers in diverse schools to learn together how to solve thorny problems. With this second community school, UCLA is emphasizing its long-term commitment to improving education in the community.”

That partnership provides pre- and after-school enrichment programs, and a free seven-week summer institute with instruction in martial arts, Chinese, coding and math, a Getty arts program, UCLA mentoring/tutoring, and more. UCLA volunteers provided over 14,000 hours of service during the 2016 Summer Institute, and in a survey, more than two-thirds of the middle school students said they wanted to participate again next summer, and that they wished similar programs were offered year-round.

“This partnership brings engaging extracurricular programs, a college-focused curriculum and expanded grade levels to give local students a place to call home for many years,” said Orlando Johnson, principal of Horace Mann. “UCLA is an established leader in the community school reform movement with proven success at increasing college-going rates. We are delighted to join them in building a neighborhood school that will be a cornerstone of high academic achievement, empowering students to succeed in their post-secondary endeavors.”


Ellen T. Morgan, L.A. Unified (213) 241-6766
Alison Hewitt, UCLA, (310) 206-5461