LA’s BEST, City Leaders Complete Mural Project at Site of New Detention Center

July 10, 2008

LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year by continuing the dialogue in the Los Angeles community about gang violence and crime and the role after school programs play in prevention and intervention among the city’s youth. To celebrate LA’s BEST 20th Anniversary, a 260-ft mural was painted on the construction wall at the new LAPD Metro Detention Center site in the Downtown Los Angeles Civic Center, along Los Angeles Street between Temple Street and Parker Center. Artist Marcus Suarez’s design features photographs of LA rsquo;s BEST students, painted images and the message, "Do Time at LA's BEST."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chief William J. Bratton and Councilwoman Wendy Greuel joined LA’s BEST President & CEO Carla Sanger and five LA’s BEST students from Leo Politi Elementary School in completing the mural this morning as a crowd of city leaders and LA’s BEST supporters looked on. “For twenty years LA’s BEST has been working to keep kids safe and helping them grow,” said LA’s BEST President & CEO Carla Sanger. “This mural represents the positive choices that lead to a brighter future for the city’s children and sends a message that prevention, not detention is the ultimate goal.”

The intent of the mural is to bring awareness to the crucial after school hours between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. when many students are left unsupervised and rates of juvenile crime increase. The mural depicts the importance of after school supervision and engagement in healthy, enriching and educating activities, and the role these play in juvenile crime abatement and positive youth development. The dedication of the mural by city leaders supports the message that children who "do time" at LA's BEST are far more likely to make positive choices down the road.

In 2007, the federal Department of Justice commissioned UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) to do a long-term evaluation of the LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program and its impact on juvenile crime rates. The results show that students in LA’s BEST are 30 percent less likely to commit juvenile crime than their peers. Using conservative estimates, the study also found that for every dollar invested in the LA’s BEST program, the City saves $2.50 in costs associated with crime.

“We are lucky to have LA's BEST as partners in providing healthy alternatives for our children and in reducing juvenile crime. We have an obligation to provide quality education and after school programs to the children in our communities who need it the most,” stated Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"Programs like LA’s BEST are an excellent example of community, business and government partnering to develop tomorrow's leaders. Together, we continue to expand our efforts in providing our youth with opportunities to grow so they may reach their full potential,” said Chief William J. Bratton.

Mural artist Marcus Suarez has been an accomplished artist for twenty years. Suarez got his start painting the steel on the sides of New York City subway cars and now works with many celebrities and renowned artists such as photographer David LaChappelle. Fine artist Jillian Kogan art directed the mural project; she recently completed the annual promotional campaign for the California Arts Council.

About LA's BEST

LA's BEST — Better Educated Students for Tomorrow — is a nationally recognized after school education, enrichment and recreation program serving more than 26,000 children with the greatest needs and fewest resources throughout the City of Los Angeles. LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program provides a safe haven for children ages 5 to 12 at 180 elementary school sites each day during the critical hours after school — at no cost to parents. Established in 1988, LA’s BEST is a partnership including the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the private sector. For more information, please visit www.lasbest.org.