The Organization Seeks Additional Funds to Help the Cause
By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
Level Up LA, a new volunteer organization run by a group of teenagers out of Pacific Palisades, has a mission of raising money to help strengthen under-resourced Los Angeles communities by providing support that will “level up” the primary educational experience for children.
In less than two months, this close-knit team of about 10 has raised more than $24,000 toward its goal of $50,000.
The Level Up LA campaign is dedicated to helping students at Coliseum Street Elementary. The teens spoke with liaisons at the school and identified critical supplies required for students to start the academic year online successfully.
“It’s huge what these kids have accomplished,” parent Claire Haas said to the Palisadian-Post. Claire, together with her son, Zach, came up with the idea to create Level Up LA.
The group of Palisadian teens created bins for each student at Coliseum Elementary to pick up at the start of the school year. In addition to their school books, the students will now be getting supplies they need, as well as workbooks, puzzles and other items to help them at home.
“Students now have something to look forward to when they pick up their books,” Claire said.
Started less than two months ago, Level Up LA organizers put together 250 crates by hand and delivered them in a U-Haul to the school. The teenagers put in long hours and hard work to make this happen, Claire explained.
“When it’s time to go online, this crate gives students a targeted place to keep all of their supplies,” Claire said.
“The most unique item in the crate is the small dry erase board that the teachers requested,” Zach shared with the Post.
Teachers specifically requested dry erase boards and markers so they can see the work the children are doing more easily over Zoom-style programming.
Zach and Claire wanted to make it clear that the work itself has been a collective team effort with all the teenagers (and some supportive moms) working in unison.
Claire emphasized the importance of the work the teens are doing in effecting positive and needed change for these young students and for the future schools they hope to help.
“There’s a lot of work that still has to be done toward making sure under-resourced schools in that area have the same opportunities for good education and getting the funding,” Palisadian Alex Denham shared.
Local teenagers who want to join Level Up LA are encouraged to do so.
“We’re trying to raise more money to help with the school’s asks,” Palisadian Meren Meier said.
Funds raised will also be allocated to getting a tutoring base set up, Zach added.
Level Up LA is trying to get the word out to the Palisades community in search of finding more financial donors for a GoFundMe campaign. The online page shares a breakdown of what each size donation can provide for students.
The additional funds they are raising are intended to help the students in a myriad of ways, including an urgent need for an online learning app, supporting COVID-19 preparedness and a restorative justice program to help teach students conflict resolution when they return to school.
“Even the smallest donation means the world to us,” Zach said. So far, the campaign has over 129 donors.
“We still need a lot more donations and we’d love more students to join our team,” member Maddie Neilson said.
This first campaign is a blueprint for more work and future campaigns to follow, Claire shared. Level Up LA is taking on the task of helping one school at a time and is in the process of being set up as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Level Up LA Palisadians Zach, Denham, Meier and Abi Houston are all juniors at Palisades Charter High School. Palisadians Neilson and Natalia Banks are sophomores and another team member, Parker Jones, is a junior at Loyola High School.
Houston, founder of Abi’s Animals, and the team helped make masks for every student at Coliseum Elementary and some extras for any new incoming students.
She began making masks at the start of COVID-19 for people in need through her own organization. With help from members, Houston made 250 handmade, gender-neutral cloth masks for the school over a period of five days.
“Several of Level Up LA team members have helped her late into the night trying to have them made on time,” Zach shared with the Post, referring to Meier and Banks.
Other equally dedicated Palisadian members of the team are Sammy Dohad, a junior at Loyola, Oliver Garrett, a junior at Brentwood School, and Hailey Hubbard, a junior at Harvard-Westlake School.
For more information or to donate, visit gofundme.com/f/levelupla-coliseum-street-elementary.
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