Eric Gurna, President and CEO
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
These days, I am often reminded of this quote by Coretta Scott King — it feels like a reminder of who we are. The LA’s BEST community includes not only our 2,000 staff members and our 25,000 students, but also their families, neighbors, and fellow Angelenos. Since the pandemic, I’ve grown more aware of this powerful interconnectedness. And while I am constantly reminded of the disproportionate impact the crisis has had on the families we serve, I’ve been inspired by our community’s spirit and strength.
One new connection, as of March 14th: LA’s BEST staff members are working at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Grab & Go Food Distribution Centers where families can pick up free food, and other necessities. We are proud to be a part of the LAUSD Beyond the Bell Branch, and are grateful for their leadership. We are all beyond grateful to the LAUSD/LA’s BEST Operations Team. Led by Chief Operating Officer Debe Loxton, they have truly gone above and beyond to meet community needs with tremendous compassion and fortitude.
We’re also communicating with LA’s BEST families virtually through our new platform, LA’s BEST Connects. Building upon decades of personal relationship-building within the communities we serve, LA’s BEST is proud to continue our role as a trusted source of information and encouragement.
Meanwhile, our entire community is going through a tremendous amount of stress due to the pandemic and economic related hardships. In response, we are providing remote professional development for our staff that focuses on wellbeing and mental health. This training enables our staff to create caring environments for social and emotional growth when programming resumes.
Lastly, I’m proud that LA’s BEST is part of the movement for racial justice. LA’s BEST has always fought barriers to access and opportunities. We are committed to the movement to dismantle structural inequality and systemic racism, and in the short term have created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to guide us through the process of reforming our own practices and culture.
While the COVID-19 crisis has altered life as we know it, it has also provided an opportunity to reimagine how expanded learning can meet our city’s changing needs. These creative solutions come from the community — and from the compassionate actions that define who we are.