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A Virtual MLK Day of Service with City Year LA

On January 18th City Year Los Angeles and The Walt Disney Company hosted a panel of Los Angeles champions of racial and educational equity, bringing together nearly 500 participants, including 100 Disney VoluntEARS, in a virtual celebration honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Walt Disney Company has sponsored the event for close to a decade, engaging volunteers in service projects, including mural painting and beautification of city schools and neighborhoods. This year the service day adapted to a virtual celebration and panel discussion to build community, hold restorative conversations, and reflect on the importance of racial and educational equity.

Latondra Newton, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, The Walt Disney Company

“It is an honor for Disney to participate in this virtual event to pay homage to the life, legacy and profound achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King,” shared Latondra Newton, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “Just like Dr. King had a vision for a world where everyone feels represented and valued, at Disney we understand the importance of showcasing the diversity of our world in our stories, products and services. Disney is committed to supporting organizations like City Year Los Angeles and investing in the next generation of leaders, inclusive thinkers and innovators.”

Speakers of the virtual panel included prominent Los Angeles leaders, including Maria Alejandri, Director of Recruitment at Alder Graduate School; Janelle Fouché, Harvard PhD candidate in Education Policy & Program Evaluation; Tanya Franklin Ortiz, LAUSD Board Member; Mattie McFadden-Lawson, City Year Los Angeles Board Co-Chair; Michael Lawson, former U.S. Ambassador and LA Urban League CEO; and Erin Willis, City Year Los Angeles’s Program Director.

“Dr. King taught us that service is about recognizing our interconnectedness,” said Mattie McFadden-Lawson, City Year Los Angeles’ Board Co-Chair. “We carry that same vision for public schools – so that every student can have a place to explore, take risks, and belong.”

Together, speakers affirmed the importance of racial and educational equity, and commended City Year Los Angeles for its successes in the communities that the program serves.

WATCH: Race & Equity in Education-MLK Day of Service 2021 Panel

City Year L.A partners with AmeriCorps to place young adults in public schools to support academic and social emotional learning in the city’s more systematically under-resourced schools. Today’s celebration and panel discussion served as both a tribute to Dr. King’s legacy of service and an affirmation that strong and vibrant communities drive racial equity, particularly in public education.

“We consider this a day-on, not a day-off,” shared Erin Ross, City Year Los Angeles’s Interim Executive Director. “Through our programs, we empower students to see themselves as agents of change. Today’s celebration is about putting those lessons into practice and taking steps for shared success.”

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