New Village Girls Academy: Featuring Project InSight Fellow Zulma Mendez
Dear Friends of New Village,
What New Village provides for underserved young women is best expressed by the students themselves.
Zulma Mendez came to New Village three years ago. Born in Guatemala, she is making great strides becoming proficient in English. She aspires to have a career in medicine and shares that her young daughter and parents are her inspiration and motivation. Zulma participated in an internship at the Southern California Eye Institute and as a result, was offered a Saturday job at an optician’s office.
What she appreciates most about her New Village experience is the supportive staff who are patient and committed to her education and English language development. There was a point in Zulma’s life when she was not sure she would finish high school and receive her diploma; now she plans to attend college after graduation. New Village has shown her that, “if we believe in our dreams, we can actually accomplish them.”
New Village, an all-girls public charter high school in the Rampart neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles, was established in 2005. Our students face extreme personal circumstances that make attending and succeeding in a traditional high school highly unlikely. The overwhelming majority of our students are within one or more high-risk categories, including: 95% qualify for free/reduced price lunch, 14% gang-involved/vulnerable, 48% credit-deficient, 10% homeless, 13% pregnant or parenting, 28% students with low English fluency, and most are dealing with untreated mental health issues and/or inadequate healthcare. The majority live in poverty, 98% are young women of color, and are struggling with the effects of an inequitable lack of opportunities and mentors for economic and social mobility.
New Village provides college preparatory academics, essential emotional-social support, and mentoring/internships that match a student’s interests. Our students demonstrate that given the necessary tools, academics, and our supportive environment, they can flourish and succeed. The class of 2021 had a graduation rate of 93%, as we celebrated our largest graduating class of 30 proud scholars. 22 graduates continued onto four-year universities, community colleges, or vocational schools. Most are the first in their families to graduate from high school; all are the first to attend college. Those not continuing on to college at this time have used their diplomas and internship experiences to secure meaningful employment.
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