Partnership Playbook Let's Partner

Our Impact

inside our Impact
Students & Communities Educators Parents & Families Resource Equity School Transformation & Growth District Ecosystem
“The Partnership’s success is not limited to the communities they serve but has the potential to impact all schools through promising practices and lessons learned.”Kelly Gonez
Board Member
Los Angeles Unified School District

We have a track record of transforming schools and influencing the broader system in Los Angeles to change.

Partnership network schools have seen significant gains in student achievement over the last decade of our existence. Most schools that have entered the Partnership did so performing in the bottom 5% of schools in the state, and since then have undergone significant transformation. These gains have not been uniform, nor have they been linear over time. While the transformational growth of our schools offers an example of what is possible, we also know that as we forge ahead into our second decade, we still have a lot of work to do in order to ensure that we are closing equity gaps for every student in our network.

Helping students thrive in school and in life is the ultimate measure we hold ourselves accountable to. We’re proud that our impact on our network of schools and on LA Unified is multi-dimensional. We know that test scores alone don’t define success; so with the help of parents, educators, and community partners, we continue to work toward ensuring Partnership schools support the whole child.

The following essential questions provide a snapshot of how we measure our impact as an organization.

“The Partnership continues to close achievement and opportunity gaps for thousands of our district’s most deserving students each year, and we applaud the deep investments they make in schools, teachers, and parent leaders. The Partnership’s work goes a long way toward helping our district ensure every child is prepared to get to and through college.”Monica GarciaBoard Member
Los Angeles Unified School District

Are we serving students where the need is greatest?

The Partnership serves a low-income population under essentially the same constraints as other LA Unified schools, but we go where the need is greatest. The schools in our network – concentrated in the communities of Watts, South Los Angeles, and Boyle Heights – are among the highest-need schools in LA Unified as identified in the Student Equity Needs Index (SENI), which assesses a school’s needs based on a comprehensive set of indicators such as student demographics, incoming student data, school climate, and community indicators like asthma rates and exposure to violence. 

Partnership Student Demographics (2019-20)
Total Students13,500
African American9%
English Learners24%
Qualifying for Free & Reduced Price Lunch96%
Students with Disabilities 14%

Are we supporting teachers to grow their practice and step into leadership positions? 

teacher leaders invested in annually, who have chosen to step into leadership roles on their campuses
250 hrs
of comprehensive training and support each summer, and countless more hours of coaching and training during the school year
teacher leader pathways in areas such as instruction, school culture, and family engagement

Are we supporting families to advocate for their students? 

parents and families participated in Parent College in 2018-19 alone
parents and families empowered since 2008
parents receive training in community organizing and advocacy each year
OUR IMPACT: resource equity
“The Partnership has been a valuable ally in the communities we serve, which have been most impacted by inequities in our education system. Through our long-standing partnership, City Year has provided the extra human capital needed to offer Partnership teachers additional in-class support and the opportunity to differentiate their instruction. We have found that Partnership schools help prioritize our program’s conditions for success so that we can effectively implement our model.”Mary Jane StevensonVice President & Executive Director
City Year Los Angeles

Are we bringing additional resources to high-need district schools? 

As a non-profit, we leverage the full power of community partnerships and philanthropy to bring much-needed resources to LA Unified schools. 

Coalition & Community Investments

We advance policies to promote holistic learning and college and career preparedness by bringing together civic leaders and civil rights groups in coalition, resulting in additional resources and supports to our schools. Our network of schools works with approximately 300 community partners who provide critical support. Together, our partners have invested countless financial resources and human capital into our communities.

We have been successful at scaling partnerships to serve more schools and bring more resources to LA Unified. Some of our key partners include: 

Philanthropic Resources

Through philanthropy, we have raised and invested over $100M in traditional public schools in Los Angeles since our founding. With philanthropic support – not counting community partnerships that provide human capital resources and educational and facilities improvements – we invest approximately $800 per student on top of standard operational funding allocated by LA Unified. Philanthropy sustains our annual investments in professional development and other school-based supports, and it allows us to scale programs. One example is College Compass, which grew from a small pilot to implementation at all schools in our network in 2019-2020. We strategically select our investments to ensure scalability and to demonstrate that change is possible within existing district budgets if they were allocated based on need.

OUR IMPACT: School transformation & growth

Are our schools improving since joining the Partnership? Are students thriving?

Infusing additional resources and supports in our schools has resulted in dramatic success across the network. Partnership schools have seen significant gains in academic performance in math and English Language Arts (ELA), and more students are at grade-level now than ever before.

Overwhelming Majority of Schools Have Seen Growth Since Joining the Network

To measure the growth of our schools since they joined the network, we use a percentile analysis ranking all schools in LA Unified by level. More than half of the schools that entered the Partnership were in the bottom 10th percentile in LA Unified in their baseline year (the year they joined the Partnership network).  

Today, half of our schools are above the 50th percentile in math and ELA relative to all schools in the District, even those in the wealthiest neighborhoods where concentrated need is low. The 18 schools in our network in 2018-19 all improved their relative ranking since joining the Partnership, with nine schools jumping to the top 50% in ELA and eight in math, while others improved less dramatically but are growing each year. In ELA, 17/18 schools improved their rank, and all 18 improved in math. Yet we know we still have a long way to go to close equity gaps.

“Our network has made steady and significant progress, which is a testament to our incredible teachers and school leaders as well as to our students, families and partners, including LA Unified. That said, we are not satisfied. We know we have much more work to do to ensure all our schools are not only meeting — but exceeding — standards in each grade level so that students are on track for gaining access to, and achieving success in, four-year colleges.”Joan SullivanChief Executive Officer

English Language Arts (ELA) District Rankings & Growth on SBAC (%)

Chart by Visualizer

Math District Rankings & Growth on SBAC (%)

Chart by Visualizer

Partnership students are graduating from high school in greater numbers.

Since 2008, the network graduation rate has more than doubled from a baseline of 36% to 80% in 2019. 

The number of students in the Partnership network going to college is climbing. 


With college completion rates in our communities of Watts, South Los Angeles, and Boyle Heights hovering between 3-5%, the reality for our students is sobering and the challenge is urgent. We are proud that the four-year college acceptance rate for students at our five high schools grew from 32% in 2015 to 49% in 2019.

In the class of 2019, 82% of Partnership graduates planned to enroll in either a four-year or two-year college. While the numbers are climbing, we have a long way to go to ensure that our students are completing college and transforming their communities. 

Through our own positive school culture efforts and the use of restorative practices districtwide, school climate has improved at Partnership schools.

Suspensions at our schools have dropped dramatically from 21% in 2008-09 to just 0.7% in 2018-19. 

OUR IMPACT: district ecosystem

We strategically select our investments to ensure scalability and to demonstrate that change is possible within existing district budgets if they were allocated based on need.

Are we having an impact on LA Unified and the broader education ecosystem?

Our persistent focus on the school-level realities of policy change has enabled us to partner with LA Unified to improve how we serve students across the District. Below are just a few examples of impact the Partnership has had on the public education system in Los Angeles. 

  • Along with partners, we encouraged the District to provide equitable access to Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs for all students, resulting in the number of students identified as gifted rising from a collective eight students at four Partnership elementary schools in 2008 to 74 in 2009. And following shortly after, LA Unified began assessing all second-graders for gifted status, resulting in a nine percent increase in the number of black students identified as gifted within six months. 
  • We pursued impact litigation in Reed v. State of California to demand additional staff be hired in the highest need district schools, after dramatic cuts in state education funding led to massive layoffs of school staff in LA Unified. The lawsuit resulted in a 2014 settlement in which $25 million was provided annually for three years to 37 historically low-performing middle and high schools most impacted by teacher turnover. Since then, we have led successful efforts to influence the District to extend supports offered by Reed funding.
  • Working in coalition with partners, the Partnership helped to secure the adoption and implementation of a new funding formula that will reallocate $280 million into an equity-based budget program in the District.  
  • We leveraged our own experience using high-quality math curricula (Illustrative Mathematics and Eureka) in our schools to support LA Unified’s curricular shift toward greater equity for students. Recently, LA Unified announced that it is exploring ways to supplement current math curricula with additional, higher-quality and standards-aligned options that ensure students have equitable access to grade-appropriate content and assignments. New curricula will be paired with aligned professional development for implementation in the 2020-2021 school year.

Our first 10 years

This independent case study developed by Public Impact explores the Partnership’s school transformation model and, through research, interviews, and data analysis, investigates and documents the Partnership’s significant improvement on student outcomes over time. 
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Lessons Learned