Running on empty
City fails to fund El Centro youth program
By André Coleman 05/17/2012
One of the community’s oldest nonprofit organizations received word this week it would not receive funding from the city next year to help support its programs for young people.
The city Human Services Commission voted on April 25 to not allocate funds to El Centro de Accion Social, prompting supporters of the group to speak up at Monday’s City Council meeting.
“Cutting funding only decreases El Centro’s capability to help over 200 low-income youth,” said El Centro Executive Director Randy Jurado Ertll. “Our job is to help our youth to graduate from high school and to succeed in life. It is the youth and senior citizens who are negatively impacted when the city of Pasadena cuts funding for El Centro’s youth education programs. That wipes out our support for the youth programs.
“Who else offers these types of youth programs in the schools and offers summer school in the park? It’s pretty drastic.”
The youth program, located at the southern end of Central Park, provides tutoring and field trips to colleges and universities for students at Jefferson Elementary, Washington Middle and John Muir High schools. About 200 K-12 students throughout the district attend the El Centro’s Summer School in the Park Program, where they are taught math, science and English by fully accredited teachers.
El Centro began in 1968 to help Spanish-speaking students not being served by the Pasadena Unified School District. Last year, the city provided the group with $25,000 for its senior programs and $25,000 for its youth program. Unlike the youth program, the senior program will still be funded next year.
Calls to Human Service Commission Chair Elisa Weaver and Board member Martin Gordon seeking comment on the decision not to fund the group were not returned.
The commission allocated funds to Pasadena City College and the Pasadena Unified School District, organizations which, Ertll noted, have their own foundations and grant writers.
“I think those are very large institutional nonprofits that do great work, but they have the resources and the capacities to do more fundraising. It would be more equitable and realistic to look at the smaller nonprofit groups.”