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One Step Ahead Culver City Works to Close the Socioeconomic Achievement Gap

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One Step Ahead club members. (Photo by CCHS Yearbook staff)

One Step Ahead Culver City is a student-led 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and club working to close the socioeconomic achievement gap in the Culver City Unified School District. The organization was founded to foster success and equity in Culver City, knowing that statistically those disadvantaged socioeconomically tend to perform worse in school. The founders of One Step Ahead believed students should not be limited in their education by factors outside of their control. 

The club’s goal is to provide early intervention remote peer mentoring to those falling behind in school and keep them one step ahead in their education by reestablishing intrinsic learning motivation and providing tools for long-term educational success.

The club has Culver City High School students work with elementary school students from all five CCUSD elementary schools on reading and math. Each high school mentor meets weekly with their assigned student to work on skills such as division or plot understanding, as well as to serve as a supportive friend. The mentors meet every other week at CCHS to discuss and find new ways to help students who are struggling.

Club President and Founder Lila Bragard talked about the “joy and fulfillment” she gets after meeting with her student. She mentioned that her student was originally very discouraged by her math skills, and had little motivation to go to school as she felt like a failure. Now, she lights up every time she solves a challenging math problem and has even become a top student in her class. 

The pilot program started in early 2023 with about five to seven tutor-student relationships and now, less than a year later, has grown to about 35 students and tutors. The program also connects teachers, parents, and administrators with high school tutors to make sure each student is well supported. 

Bragard expressed her gratitude after getting their first grant from the Culver City Education Foundation, which has allowed them to provide materials for their students and continue expanding their program. Although it has not been decided who will take over after Bragard graduates, they have a large, very involved leadership team. The team works to improve the club by finding new books, connecting students to tutors, developing the organization’s curriculum, collecting and analyzing program data, coding the organization’s website, and much more.

An anonymous tutor said they enjoy tutoring their student because “it is rewarding.” They mentioned seeing significant growth in their student, as the student previously could not read an entire paragraph, but now does so with ease. They said they play a lot of bonding games and have not only developed a student-tutor relationship, but also become friends. 

While Bragard says the program is doing very well, they have also faced some road bumps. One elementary school took a very long time to join the program because their MTSS specialist was not responding to their emails. Bragard said this was frustrating because all of the resources were ready, but because of one person, dozens of students who needed help were not able to take advantage of the program.

Although the club has to work through challenges, One Step Ahead Culver City has already made an impact on the community. It has been a worthwhile and meaningful project to all the volunteers involved, as the club hopes to continue growing and expanding, lift more students up, and create a brighter future for CCUSD.

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About the Contributor
Nina Faeh, Staff Writer
Hi, I’m Nina Faeh, a freshman at CCHS. I am part of the Journalism Club and I love to be active. I like to play lacrosse and run long distances. My favorite subjects are Math and English.

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