A SUNDAY BRUNCH WHERE AFTER SCHOOL IS THE CAUSE

June 5, 2011

LA's BEST After School Enrichment Program
MEDIA RELEASE

June 5, 2011

A SUNDAY BRUNCH WHERE AFTER SCHOOL IS THE CAUSE

At Sunday’s annual benefit for LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program, more than 400 people turned out to make after school their cause at the 16th Annual Family Brunch at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The event, chaired by Mary Odell, President of the UniHealth Foundation, raised more than $600,000 and honored Elizabeth Banks, the Nederlander Organization and Pantages Theatre and an LA’s BEST Alumnus, Morris Vanegas. The Brunch raises funds and awareness to keep elementary school students who live in low-income communities in Los Angeles safe and learning each day after school.

The program included host Michaela Pereira and award presenters Eva Longoria, Cathy Rigby, and Shayla Rivera as well as special guests, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and NBA legend, Jerry West. Twenty-one student winners of a citywide essay and art contest were also honored, and attendees enjoyed performances by LA’s BEST students from Castelar Elementary in Chinatown and Hillside Elementary in Lincoln Heights. Students from Castelar took the stage again at the end of the program to join singer and songwriter Kathy Fisher in an inspiring choral performance of the LA’s BEST anthem, “Together We’ll Be Strong,” written especially for LA’s BEST by Kathy Fisher and Ron Wasserman.

“LA's BEST prepares students not only for a successful grade–school experience but for a successful life. I found my passion after school — acting — and I hope these kids find theirs too,” Elizabeth Banks told the audience of supporters.

The Annual Family Brunch salutes the importance of family and provides an opportunity for LA's BEST to honor those in our community who support the program and enrich the lives of underprivileged children in Los Angeles. Eva Longoria, star of ABC’s mega-hit “Desperate Housewives” presented the Children’s Champion Award to actor Elizabeth Banks for her contributions to the organization as a spokesperson and advocate, especially in the areas of health and fitness, most recently having donated Nintendo Wii’s outfitted with Wii Fit to more than 80 LA’s BEST school sites so that children can engage in yoga, dance and other physical activities while having fun with their peers.

Actor and famed gymnast Cathy Rigby presented the Community Partner Award to Martin Wiviott, General Manager of Nederlander Theatrical Activities, who accepted the award on behalf of the Nederlander Organization and Pantages Theatre, for their efforts to ensure thousands of LA’s BEST students over the past 20 years have had access and exposure to the performing arts. Stand-up comedian and rocket scientist Shayla Rivera presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Morris Vanegas, once an LA’s BEST student at Leo Politi Elementary in Pico Union, and now a senior at M.I.T. studying in the Aeronautics and Astronautics department, where he also happens to be President of the M.I.T. Stand-Up Comedy Club.

Carla Sanger, LA's BEST President & CEO, noted, “This event is so special because it not only celebrates the ever widening community investment in the 28,000 students served annually by LA’s BEST, but also showcases the talent that is nurtured in this program. Moving student performances and our spotlight on our Distinguished Alumnus all show evidence that this program encourages success in school and life.”

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About LA’s BEST
LA's BEST - Better Educated Students for Tomorrow - is a nationally recognized after school education, enrichment and recreation program serving 28,000 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.