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Kid City Hope Place and Centenary

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

By Carolyn Tokunaga

Kid City Hope Place was launched in the fall of 2008 as Kid City South Park at First United Methodist Church as part of the Los Angeles United Methodist Urban Foundation. Originally an afterschool program for children and youth, it has evolved into a year-round program that now includes college students. Most participants are first generation college or college-bound students from very low income families living in South Central, Pico Union and other neighborhoods in and around downtown Los Angeles. College access programs include SAT study groups, personal statement workshops, mentoring through the college admissions process, financial aid workshops, high level math support, college visits, and college and career special events.

The beginning of any new school year involves the need for school supplies and textbooks. There are fees to be paid and housing arrangements to be made. These students from South Central Los Angeles, Pico Union, and neighborhoods around downtown face tremendous financial challenges, cobbling together grants, loans and job earnings to make college attendance possible. As the first in their families to attend college, they serve as great role models for siblings, friends and the community.

Since 2016, Centenary has assembled School Care Bags in the fall and spring for the college students of Kid City. That first year there were 100 college kids and the program continues to grow. They now serve over 200.

For these students, there is a loneliness being away from family in an environment completely different from the one in which they grew up. They are stressed academically because they need to achieve to maintain their financial aid which makes this whole experience possible. They are hungry and tired and worried about family. For these students Kid City serves as a support group and family for their college years. With their fellow Kid City students, they can share concerns, get advice from graduates, find a sympathetic ear. Kid City graduates return to mentor and support. They share the love that Kid City provided for the rough spots in their education and celebrate the successes of fellow Kid City participants.

The contents of the bags now include spiral notebooks, pocket folders, pens, pencils, sticky notes, highlighters, granola bars, snacks, cold medicine, Tylenol, hand sanitizer, toiletries, personal hygiene products, laundry soap, all gathered through donations. A note of support is also included.

As Tiffany wrote, “Thank you for your kind words and generous donations to Kid City Hope Place! I really enjoyed the care package and the card was especially thoughtful. Your words of encouragement were greatly appreciated! It is nice to know that someone is always thinking of us. Thank you so much for supporting the Kid City family.”

Beyond the Care Bag Project, Centenary members participate in Kid City career nights, as mentors, and host high school and college workshops for Kid City students. There are also music and tutoring programs open to all at the Kid City Hope Place building.

Call Centenary at (213) 617-9097 if you would like to help with the Kid City Care Bag Project or the Kid City Mentor Program.

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