Mayor London N. Breed today joined educators, community organizations and government leaders for the opening of a new dormitory at Life Learning Academy (LLA), a public charter school on Treasure Island. The new dorm will provide housing for 24 students who would otherwise be homeless or living in unsafe housing situations, and makes LLA the first public school in California to offer a no-fee home for students.
“Thanks to the hard work of Life Learning Academy, and so many supporters, 24 San Francisco youth now have a place to call home,” said Mayor Breed. “These students can focus on their education and preparing for the future, without having to worry about where they are going to spend the night, or if they have a safe place to go to after school.”
To address the needs of their students experiencing homelessness, or living in otherwise unsafe conditions, LLA began a capital campaign in 2015 to provide housing for those students most in need. In March 2018, the school celebrated the groundbreaking of its new dormitory. The goal of the dorm is to provide what every student needs—a safe, stable home where they can learn and prepare to thrive as adults.
“We built a home for our students because it became impossible to leave each night knowing that we have kids who are homeless and living in unstable conditions,” said Teri Delane, Principal at LLA. “We believe this is one solution that can become a model for other public schools who identify students with the very basic need of having a safe place to live.”
Mayor Breed has advocated for LLA, in both her current and previous roles as President of the Board of Supervisors and as a member of the Treasure Island Development Authority. In those positions, Mayor Breed worked with the Life Learning Academy to ensure that LLA received the support that it needed to continue to serve students.
Construction funding for the dorm was secured through philanthropic engagement by nearly 90 donors and with an anonymous donation of $1.5 million, which was secured by Mayor Ed Lee. The City budget for Fiscal Years 2019-20 and 2020-21, which Mayor Breed signed on August 1, includes $800,000 to help cover the operating expenses of the dorm for the next two years. Additional funding for operating expenses comes from Tipping Point and Battery Powered. Today’s event was made possible thanks to the generous support of EY, Lowe’s Home Improvement, JaMel and Tom Perkins, LinkedIn, Russel Reynolds, Oliver & Company, and the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council.
“It is my great honor to have worked in partnership with Delancey Street Foundation to create Life Learning Academy in 1996,” said Mayor Willie Brown, Jr. “I want to thank Teri for her tireless dedication to making this the institution we all envisioned it could be. My good friend, Mayor Breed, has shared in my passion for this school and I want to thank her for her unwavering support.”
For over twenty years, LLA has provided a supportive and stable educational environment for students who have not been successful in a traditional school setting. The school currently has about 60 full-time students enrolled. Many of their students have been in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, and are low-income or otherwise at-risk students. In addition to standard academic classics, the school focuses on soft skills, workforce training programs, employment opportunities, and career and college counseling. Their efforts have led to an over 90% graduation rate. Graduates have access to a scholarship fund that has awarded over $15,000 in support since 2010.
“The opportunity to attend Life Learning Academy came to me in a crucial turning point in my life, and ultimately changed the trajectory of the path I was on for the better,” said Lynn Ward, a LLA alumna. “I’m excited and proud to bear witness to the next chapter of this institution, through the opening of the new dormitory. I know it will provide the same life changing opportunities for others as it did for me.”
In 1996, Mayor Willie Brown, Jr. hired Delancey Street to assess the City’s juvenile justice system and create a plan for reform. Delancey Street recommended the creation of an extended-day, structured, comprehensive school program, and helped develop LLA. Located on Treasure Island, LLA is uniquely situated to remove students from gang-affiliated territories of the Bay Area.