LOS ANGELES — This fall, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students will have the opportunity to meet and work alongside actors, producers, writers and other influential figures in the entertainment industry outside of the classroom.
LAUSD is partnering up with The Creative Coalition, a non-profit organization based out of New York, to launch the Show Biz Gives Back program.
The program will provide LAUSD students with the opportunity to learn from the stars, who will have the chance to support the students by offering them guidance and encouraging them to continue developing their academic skills and career goals.
Robin Bronk, the CEO of The Creative Coalition, has been instrumental in helping to get the program on its feet.
“The program was started because the whole reason behind The Creative Coalition is to use the power of entertainment for issues of importance,” Bronk says. “There is a large group of people in Los Angeles who care about doing well by doing good.
We started the mentor program in Los Angeles specifically because it’s one of our home bases and because LAUSD is one of the leading school districts in the country.”
The partnership is the first of its kind between The Creative Coalition and LAUSD. In a press release posted on the school district’s website, members of the district expressed their enthusiasm for the program. Thomas Waldman, a spokesman for LAUSD, was quoted in the release as saying, “We look forward to the mentoring partnership with The Creative Coalition promoting growth — vocational, personal and academic — for our students … Research confirms that mentoring works and is beneficial to all youth. We are excited to bring the leadership of The Creative Coalition into LAUSD.”
Currently, there are around 150 mentors signed up to participate in the program this school year. Film actress Frances Fisher and actor Drake Bell are two of the mentors signed up to participate in the program so far.
“As part of the program, the mentors will speak to the kids either at their offices, on location or sets, or at LAUSD schools,” Bronk says. “It’s so important to have a connection with those who can guide you in life or career decisions.”
Dr. Maria Ott, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education who specializes in K-12 education policy, says that she is excited about the new opportunities the school district is offering to students outside of the classroom.
“We know that mentoring can be an incredibly powerful support system for students,” Ott says. “Many of these students may be the first in their families to graduate or go on to college, and when you can create an effective mentoring program where students can hear from individuals that they admire themselves, then you’re reaching students who may have some doubts about their own potential.”
Ott adds that the program also has the ability to have a positive impact on the students academically as well.
“The students will also have someone from the industry telling them how important their education is and why they need to pay attention in school,” Ott says. “Some students might look at the mentors and think ‘I want to be like that,’ but they may not realize the connection between their current academics and a successful position in life later on and to hear that from important people that they know and recognize could be very impactful.”
Although Show Biz Gives Back is solely targeting LAUSD students for now, Bronk wants to see the program move outside of Hollywood in the future.
“We hope to expand first to New York City and then move it around the country as well,” Bronk says. “We will be delighted if one kid is affected by doing something bigger and stronger and better with their life than they would have ordinarily done.”