A Note from the Directors
Dear Friends of Determined to Succeed,
We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during this difficult time. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered all of our lives, challenging us in ways we never imagined. We are with you in spirit.
Our team at DTS is as DETERMINED as ever to support underserved students and their families. For many years, we’ve helped students navigate unfamiliar territory and hone critical life skills like resilience, grit, and a growth mindset. Today is no different. Our operations have moved from the classroom to the computer screen, but the core of our program remains the same – to provide unwavering, holistic support to students who are determined to create a bright future for themselves.
A bit of good news: To date, our high school seniors have been accepted to incredible colleges, both in state and across the country. While it is disappointing that our seniors will forgo the opportunity to visit campuses before committing (and a traditional high school graduation ceremony), we are confident that they each will land at their best-fit school and hopeful that they will be on campus in the fall.
In this month’s newsletter, we share with you some of the hardships facing DTS families and how we’re addressing them. Low-income, first generation students are disproportionately negatively impacted by distance learning. For many of our high school students, the DTS classroom at Hamilton High School is a safe haven. Their home environments aren’t conducive to learning, with many people living in a small space, in neighborhoods where it’s dangerous to walk around the block. WiFi access is limited, making it impossible to keep up with schoolwork and communicate with teachers. Without funds to purchase puzzles, games or hobby supplies, students are watching endless hours of television. Many of our students’ parents are laid off from their jobs; others are forced to work in high-risk environments to continue to provide for their families. Families who rely on public transportation are having difficulty accessing LAUSD’s food pick-up locations. Single parents have sent their children to live with relatives to keep them safe. For students, the stress of transitioning to distance learning is exacerbated by feelings of guilt and worry as they see their parents struggle in new and painful ways.
The DTS community was excitedly anticipating our first class of college graduates walking across the stage to receive their diplomas in just a few short months. Over the last few weeks, however, our college seniors have been forced to quickly pack up their campus lives, say good-bye to their college friends and move home. They will receive their degrees, but that special moment in cap and gown they and their families have dreamed of for so many years will not happen. We grieve with them this loss as we help them pivot and adapt to their new reality so that they can finish the semester strong.
Our staff is doing all that we can to ensure that the disruption by the COVID-19 situation does not derail a single DTS student from his or her goal of graduating from college. DTS remains steadfast in our mission to help underserved students realize their goals of high school and college graduation and set themselves on the path to fulfilling futures. You can help.
Today, we ask you to join us in raising emergency funds for our students in need as the public health crisis continues. Your contribution will directly help families that have lost their sources of income to purchase food, basic necessities, medicines, school supplies and more, as most of our families are not eligible for stimulus package aid. Please consider making a donation to the DTS Family Hardship Fund. While we keep our physical distance from each other, we can continue to take care of one another in meaningful and lasting ways.
With many thanks for your support,
Mimi and Jessica
SUPPORT PROVIDED DURING QUARANTINE
The list below highlights how DTS staff has been engaged with students and families over the last two weeks to ensure they are getting the support they need:
- Provided remote IT services, including teaching kids how to use Zoom, how to use a hot spot, and troubleshooting technical difficulties
- Procured and delivered laptop computers and other essential school supplies
- Supplied WiFi for families that cannot wait for free services to start
- Provided students with novels needed for school and pleasure reading
- Provided extensive tutoring in all subjects
- Provided one-on-one emotional support and mental health services for both students and their parents
- Provided information and resources to help manage stress, support the immune system, and take physical care of oneself at home
- Helped high school seniors apply for college scholarships and decipher their financial aid award letters from the colleges they were accepted to
- Provided weekly check-ins to help students develop effective study habits as they transition to online school platforms, including creating study schedules and setting up a work space
- Explained the pandemic and best practices for keeping families safe
- Helped students communicate with siblings and parents about when they need alone time for classes and studying
- Helped college students communicate with professors about creating class schedules that accommodate different time zones
- Flew college students home
- Purchased groceries for families with no sources of income and who will not benefit from the stimulus package
- Added a wellness edition of the DTS student/family weekly blast
- Connected students to one another in a weekly council session
- Connected families to one another in a weekly group stillness session
- Created an online peer tutoring network
- LISTENED to our students and families and let them know that we are here for them