LB Mayor and First Lady raise $40,000 at first Long Beach BLAST breakfast

bob-foster-and-wife.jpgOn May 15, 2008, 175 people attended a breakfast to hear Mayor Bob Foster thank Long Beach Better Learning After School Today (BLAST) for making Long Beach better for kids. The breakfast raised nearly $40,000 to support BLAST programs for at-risk youth in Long Beach.
The BLAST mentoring program matches local college student volunteers with at-risk children in Long Beach to provide academic support and to encourage personal goal setting, including higher education. BLAST’s newest program helps struggling students at Cabrillo, Jordan and Renaissance high schools pass the state-mandated high school exit exam (CAHSEE). Last year, 79 percent of Jordan students who worked with a BLAST mentor passed the math portion of the CAHSEE on their first attempt, compared to an overall school pass rate of 63%. These results are even more compelling when it is taken into account that the overall pass rate included ALL students, not only those at risk of failing the exam.
“BLAST is a great organization that provides opportunities for our city’s youth,” said Foster. “Not only is BLAST providing at-risk students a helping hand, but it also gives local college students a chance to give back to their community.” First Lady Nancy Foster is a member of the BLAST board of directors.
Since its inception in September 2000, BLAST has trained and placed more than 3,400 college student volunteers (mentors) at 52 school-based and community sites serving over 4,950 youth at risk for school failure. A study done last year by an independent researcher reported that more than 90 percent of teachers surveyed observed improvements in important classroom behaviors of participating children. Teachers found that, after working with a BLAST volunteer for only one semester, students followed directions and rules better, were better able to manage their anger and took more responsibility for their own actions.
BLAST partners include the City of Long Beach, California State University Long Beach, Long Beach City College, the Long Beach Unified School District, youth-serving organizations and two low-income housing developments in North Long Beach. BLAST and its partners provide a safe environment for students during the hours immediately following their school day. As Long Beach Police Department statistics show, juvenile crime and violence increase dramatically between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., thereby making programs like BLAST vital for our children’s safety.
Support for the breakfast was provided by Platinum Sponsor Molina Healthcare, Gold Sponsor Port of Long Beach, and Silver Sponsors Aspen Medical Products, Evergreen Shipping Agency, Jeteffect, Inc., Laserfiche and Southern California Edison.

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