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A Celebration of the Grassroots Leaders of Watts

Community leaders working to make Watts a safer, healthier and more vibrant place were honored at a beachside gathering on Aug. 11, 2018. The advocates, all part of the original cohort of the UCLA Luskin-based Watts Leadership Institute (WLI), came together with family, friends, philanthropists and leaders in the nonprofit sector at a celebration held at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica. GRoW@Annenberg, a major sponsor of WLI and its cohort members, hosted the event. Founded in 2016 by Social Welfare faculty member Jorja Leap’78 MSW ’80 PhD ’88 and Karrah Lompa MSW ’13, the institute identifies and empowers community leaders in Watts so that they can maximize their impact on the ground.

View more photographs from the event.

Read about recent grants to WLI. 

Watts Leadership Institute Hosts Visit by Elementary School Students

More than 45 students from Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School in Watts spent the afternoon of Feb. 7, 2018, touring the UCLA campus thanks to the efforts of the UCLA Luskin-based Watts Leadership Institute (WLI) and GRoW@Annenberg. The daylong adventure for the students —  known as “Keepers of the Dream” — was organized by Mike Cummings, also known as “Big Mike” or “Pastor Mike,” who is the executive director of We Care Outreach Ministries and a member of the first leadership cohort for WLI. The students started the day by visiting the middle school and high school they will attend, then traveled to UCLA, where they had lunch in the Covel Commons. The UCLA “Cub” tour, which began at the Bruin statue in the heart of the campus, was coordinated Melanie Edmond, principal of Joyner Elementary School. The group also met with Jorja Leap ’78 MSW ’80 PhD ‘88, adjunct professor of social welfare and co-founder of WLI, a 10-year initiative to build a legacy of indigenous leaders and community empowerment in Watts. Karrah Lompa MSW ’13, co-founder of the Watts Leadership Institute, also participated. She said the inspiration and sponsorship of the program by GRoW@Annenberg, a philanthropic initiative led by Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, vice president and director of the Annenberg Foundation, has been instrumental to their efforts.

View a Flickr album of images from the students’ visit to UCLA:

Watts Institute Visits UCLA