20 years ago, Kimi Lent was teaching kindergarten in the haven of Orange County. Less than 30 miles away, riots erupted after the beating of Rodney King. A white suburban mom, she just drove there:
“Everything was on fire. I never saw all the graffiti and everything like that, bars on windows. Everyone’s living in jail in their own community. [They’re] not putting on these bars because of outsiders coming into the community; [they’re] protecting themselves from themselves.”
Kimi created a licensed nonprofit called “Community Restoration Services, Inc.”. This legally binds her to provide educational and social services to youth and adults with special needs, under the jurisdiction of her bylaws that are approved by the State of California. A licensed 501c3 community based organization, Los Angeles Community High School is a private credentialed alternative school registered with the State of California’s Board of Education in collaboration with the Los Angeles Computer Science Academy. Kimi has since become a gang expert for the courts, attributing her expertise to what she learned from the kids. 20 years later, it seems as though nothing has changed in the struggling L.A. school system. For Kimi, this comes with immense pain and frustration. She’s a single mom with little income, unprecedented determination, and a refusal to see even one of these students fail.
Fred Smith has spent the entirety of his life in the projects of Watts and uses his extraordinary journey to establish a very unique approach to education. He’s mastered the curriculum and understands what it takes for these kids to succeed, better than most could ever fathom. He teaches this material with methods catered exclusively to his students. A survivor of a troubled youth and a former gang member, Fred is indebted to helping kids in his neighborhood avoid the same path.