Leadership L.A. Fellows Help Future Leaders

We were so inspired by both our Leadership L.A. 2018 and 2019 classes, who recognized a need at Esperanza Elementary School and took action to help.

Leadership L.A. fellows meeting students at Esperanza Elementary.

Last year, Brett Moore (LLA ’18) of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management raised $5,000 to buy each child in the school a book at the book fair. Brett said, “Of all the experiences during Leadership L.A., I was shocked to hear that the students of Esperanza Elementary School lacked the financial resources to buy one book at the book fair.  How could students experience the excitement and not have the ability to take at least one book home?

Leadership L.A. 2019 cohort in school library at Esperanza Elementary.

I recognized that I had the opportunity to make a difference, and was compelled to do something about it.  I ran the numbers, and saw how this $5,000 raise was achievable if we pooled our resources. Stay tuned; I will be attempting the same this fall, and down the line, I would like to target an endowment that would fund Esperanza’s book fair for perpetuity.”

Similarly, this year, Leadership L.A. committed to providing binoculars for the school’s bird watching group. Jordan Ferguson (LLA ’19), of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, spearheaded the efforts. He commented, “The 2019 fellows were blown away by all of the school’s extra-curricular efforts, from a garden populated entirely by native plants to the burgeoning bird-watching club, put on with help from the Los Angeles Audubon Society.

Esperanza Elementary overlooks Downtown LA

Furthering Leadership LA’s commitment to public service and to giving back to the community, the fellows asked Principal Rumble how they could best contribute to Esperanza’s ongoing success. He informed them that, while the bird-watching club was increasingly popular, the school could not afford binoculars for the students in the club in the immediate future.  Hearing a problem and sending a solution, the Leadership LA Class of 2019 committed to providing binoculars for the full bird-watching club. With support from the generous Care Team at Vortex Optics, the fellows were able to provide binoculars for every member of the club, and to ensure delivery before summer break began. Now the students at Esperanza Elementary can fully commit to their bird-watching passion, and will return from summer break knowing they have the resources to pursue their hobby. “

Principal Rumble showing Leadership L.A. the gardens on school grounds

Brad Rumble, Principal of Esperanza Elementary, was so appreciative of both Leadership L.A. classes and all they have done for his students.

Thirty years of service in the schools of central Los Angeles have shown me that we cannot go it alone. Community partnerships and the intentional efforts of community members can make a huge difference on a campus. In autumn of 2014, my first year at Esperanza, I handled the cash register at Family Night at the Book Fair. I recall one family who spent about an hour browsing. When they were about to leave without making a purchase I asked why. They replied they simply did not have any money. This brought home to me the fact that many families cannot afford even one book at the Book Fair. When Brett Moore learned of this, he took on an enormous effort in gathering donors to make it possible for every child in this school to visit the autumn 2018 Book Fair and leave with a brand new book. What registered for me is how the student and their parents really understood what Brett and others had done. It means the world to them. When others take an interest in a school community, the school community feels it. It lifts the community.

The students love bird watching, and have pictures around the school with bird facts

Esperanza has become an example for others as to how even in the most urban of settings students, parents and educators can study the campus’ natural history. In fact, Esperanza is an eBird.org Hotspot with 63 species of birds documented on campus since 2014. What’s more, more than 7,000 square feet of asphalt has been replaced by native habitat which now serves as a living laboratory for students. The students love to birdwatch on campus and on field trips. Birdwatching requires an attention to detail, an ability to compare and contrast–and it’s definitely a social activity. But with an insufficient quantity of binoculars on campus, we could not satisfy student demand.

Jordan Ferguson facilitated a donation of binoculars which will enable students to birdwatch during Recess and Lunch, as well as during classwide observations and on field trips. This donation will be put to thorough use from Day One of the 2019-20 school year on–and it’s something which otherwise would not have been possible.”

Principal Rumble, Brett Moore, Jordan Ferguson, and both Leadership L.A. classes demonstrate what it means to be engaged in the community. When they saw a gap, they immediately filled it. Our hope is that all of our alumni will be inspired, prepared and connected through our programs to spark change in their communities.