Meet Kid City

Originally published 11/29/17

Kid City Leadership Students at Splash of LA

In honor of Giving Tuesday, we sat down with Anne Hawthorne, the Executive Director of the Los Angeles United Methodist Urban Foundation, to talk about Kid City, an after school and leadership program located at Hope Village.

Kid City’s mission is to encourage teens and young adults to find their voice, share their stories, and become self-empowered leaders. Most participants at Kid City are first-generation college or college-bound students living in neighborhoods around downtown Los Angeles. Staff and volunteers at Kid City strive to provide ways for students to access opportunities, explore their intellectual curiosity, and learn to advocate for themselves and their communities.

Anne and Urban Foundation Board Chair Stewart Kwoh at the 2017 Ultreya! Event

What was the inspiration for founding Kid City?

Anne: We opened around Christmas in 2008 with a Christmas party for families in the area. There are three families who we think of as our founding families — and one of them still lives at Hope Village. When we started, it was as an after school program for elementary and middle school children. We quickly learned that those students often had after school programs built in at their schools, and by 2011 were serving mostly high school students.

What does your after school program focus on?

Anne: For the most part, our students are high school juniors and seniors who want help with the college application, admissions, and enrollment process. We also offer music and band classes, resume and career development, math tutoring through college level calculus, and have a leadership development program.

One of the things we found is that high school students often don’t participate in programs like this because they’re responsible for watching younger siblings. Because of that, we have games and tutoring available for younger kids.

What should South Park residents know about Kid City?

Anne: Our programs are open to all students. We would love to welcome any South Park kids into Kid City!

How can someone get involved?

Anne: Our Holiday Open House is on December 7, it’s a great time to come meet some of our students and learn about what we do. We’re always looking for volunteer music instructors, mentors, and professionals who can come to career days or connect students with volunteer opportunities and internships.

Alma with college pennants from Kid City students

Kid City alumni now include 21 college graduates from the classes of 2016 and 2017. Those students are now in graduate school, working for companies like Qualcomm, and in the Peace Corps. They also form a core volunteer group. We met Alma Ventura, one of Kid City’s class of 2017 college graduates, on a day when she was helping high school students with their personal statements. Alma added that Kid City continued to help her beyond the college admissions process. When she started college at CSU Northridge, they “connected her with a network of other students and volunteers who live in the area. There were people she could call with questions about classes, work, or even roommate problems.”

To find out more about Kid City, check out their website, or email Anne. If you’d like to make a donation, the All Ways Up Foundation is currently matching up to $10,000 in end of year gifts to the Urban Foundation’s Kid City program.