The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools has announced a $35 million commitment over ten years from Richard and Melanie Lundquist in support of efforts to improve the city's public school system and enhance student achievement.
Launched with a $50 million commitment from the Lundquists in 2007 as a public-private partnership between the L.A. Unified School District, the City of Los Angeles, and others, the partnership manages eighteen underserved K-12 schools serving more than fourteen thousand students. The couple's total commitment of $85 million to the partnership is the second-largest investment ever made by an individual or couple in the K-12 public education system.
With a focus on supporting great leaders, effective teaching, and empowered communities, the partnership aims to double proficiency in math and English at its schools, send at least half its graduating seniors to four-year colleges, and promote equitable district policies and practices designed to close the achievement gap at high-need schools.
In conjunction with the announcement, the organization released a ten-year study by Public Impact which found that in 2007 participating schools had a high school graduation rate of 27 percent. The report, The Secret to Sustainable School Transformation (64 pages, PDF), details the partnership's school transformation model and finds that average graduation rates in those schools have jumped to more than 80 percent in the decade since, outpacing improvements in the district overall (77 percent); that in the period 2015-17 an average of 47 percent of high school seniors in partnership schools were accepted to four-year colleges; and that nearly all schools have improved their statewide ranking in English (95 percent) and math (89 percent), with 47 percent of the schools improving by 20 percentile points or more.
"Ten years ago, along with then-Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and others, we helped create a movement to transform our L.A. public schools — working within the system from the inside out and the bottom up," said Melanie Lundquist. "Public Impact's independent, data-driven report demonstrates that this has been a winning investment — at an additional cost of only $650 per student, paid by philanthropic dollars. Clearly, the partnership can be replicated and scaled in school districts across the United States — becoming a national model."
"I am proud to share Public Impact's report because the results are hard-won and attributable to all our stakeholders working in deep collaboration with one another," said Partnership for Los Angeles Schools CEO Joan Sullivan. "School transformation is slow, steady work and not without occasional setbacks. There is no quick fix to turn around a school that has struggled for decades. We are all grateful to the Lundquists for their steadfast commitment as our key funders."