September 07, 2023

LAWT News Service


More than 1,000 new teachers of preschool and early elementary school grades will start work in the Golden State over the next six years thanks to two new programs being launched at CSUDH, following a transformative gift announced today.

Ballmer Group is committing a historic $22 million to CSUDH over six years, marking the largest donation ever given to the university. The majority of the gift will fund scholarships for students through the university’s Toros Teach L.A. program, which will help address California’s severe shortage of early childhood educators by preparing, graduating, and placing culturally competent, racially diverse teachers and leaders in schools across the Los Angeles region.


“This program, supported by a generous gift from Ballmer Group, will have an outstanding impact on communities with a high need for credentialed preschool and early childhood educators,” said CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham.

“It will support communities of color by creating a pipeline of teachers working and staying in the area, and improve those educators’ ability to create positive outcomes for their students through the use of culturally competent pedagogies.”

California’s early education workforce faces a serious shortfall of teachers, with some estimates putting the need at nearly 10,000 educators as the state expands access to transitional kindergarten to all 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year. CSUDH’s Toros Teach L.A. program will include two initiatives to address this need: Early Childhood Excellence and Black Educator Excellence. Through these, the university will build equity-embedded credentials, help districts recruit and support their Black educators and all educators of Black children, and enable educators to forge successful teaching careers with less debt and improved career retention.

“We are excited to work with Ballmer Group toward educating and mentoring culturally responsive teachers for the preschool-3rd grade classrooms of the Los Angeles region,” said Jessica Zacher Pandya, dean of the College of Education at CSUDH. “With this generous gift, we can offer this training to more future teachers, who can then serve the communities they come from while helping to alleviate this critical need for the state.”

The grant supports scholarships for up to 1,200 students, allowing them to earn bachelor’s degrees and PK-3 or K-8 teaching credentials. The program also includes training and upskilling for current teachers, including new units needed for the PK-3 credential once it becomes available and certificate coursework for current teachers who want to improve their ability to teach ethnically diverse learners.

“This significant, impactful gift accelerates our rollout of the new PK-3 credential, while also fostering a diverse pool of future educators,” said Mi-Sook Kim, dean of CSUDH’s College of Health, Human Services and Nursing, which houses the Department of Child Development. “Our Child Development program will also support current teachers looking to upgrade their learning and earn a new credential to progress in their career.”

Ballmer Group’s grant to CSUDH was paired with a gift of $11 million to California State University, Long Beach, to support similar programs on that campus.

“Early education is a game-changer for giving kids a fair shot in school and life,” said Kim Pattillo Brownson, Director of Strategy and Policy for Ballmer Group. “Teachers are vital to this work, and CSUDH and CSULB will now be able to support LA’s future early educators through scholarships, degree programs, and partnerships to support our children’s learning.”

Connie and Steve Ballmer co-founded Ballmer Group in 2015 to focus on improving economic mobility and opportunity for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty. Ballmer Group directs its philanthropy to help ensure that a person thrives through a healthy birth and stable family, a safe childhood and adolescence, a good education, and a career that can support a family.


Category: News

September 07, 2023

By Stacy M. Brown

NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


Amidst a news cycle that now routinely features wildfires, former president indictments, and extreme weather events, the world is grappling with the resurgence of COVID-19 as a new and concerning variant, BA.2.86, emerges. This variant, informally dubbed “Pirola,” has ignited alarm among public health experts due to its substantial spike protein mutations.

Dr. Scott Roberts, an infectious diseases specialist at Yale Medicine, warned that Pirola exhibits over 30 spike protein mutations compared to the previously dominant XBB.1.5 variant in the United States.

The spike protein is critical for the virus’s entry into human cells, and such a high number of mutations raises red flags. In an online Yale Medicine article, Dr. Roberts compared the mutation count to the shift from the Delta to the Omicron variant in 2021, which caused a significant surge in cases due to its immune evasion capabilities.

What’s particularly concerning is that Pirola has been detected in at least six countries, and these cases appear unrelated. Experts said that suggests undetected community transmission and international spread, sparking concerns of a potential resurgence.

According to medical experts, BA.2.86 is a designated variant of Omicron, a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19. BA.2.86 stems from BA.2, a previously circulating Omicron subvariant. The variant was first identified in Denmark in late July and made its way to the United States in August. Knowing that cases aren’t linked indicates broader circulation, significantly as COVID-19 surveillance has waned, medical experts asserted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that current COVID-19 tests and medications, such as Paxlovid, Veklury, and Lagevrio, seem effective against Pirola. However, Pirola may be more adept at infecting individuals who have had COVID-19 or have been vaccinated. There isn’t any current evidence that it causes more severe illness.

The increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. is attributed to XBB lineage viruses rather than Pirola. The multitude of mutations in Pirola raises concerns about its potential to bypass immunity from natural infection or vaccination.

Dr. Roberts emphasized that ongoing studies would reveal the true nature of Pirola’s threat. The unprecedented number of mutations in Pirola is reminiscent of significant shifts seen in other respiratory viruses, such as the 2009 swine flu. However, he noted that these variants sometimes fade away without causing a significant impact.

The critical question now is whether Pirola will follow the explosive growth pattern of Omicron or fade away, as everyone hopes. As of August 30, the CDC has identified Pirola in at least four U.S. states through samples from individuals or wastewater.

Some regions have reinstated mask mandates in response to the spike in COVID-19 cases. Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, is among the institutions requiring masks in clinical areas to protect patients and staff. The CDC reports a nearly 19% increase in weekly new COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S., marking the sixth consecutive week of rising admissions.

The arrival of new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax in mid-September is expected to offer robust protection against variants. Until then, experts stress that masking remains a crucial tool for safeguarding against COVID-19, even for individuals with normal risk levels, depending on their location and contacts.

Dr. Stephen Thomas of the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse told NPR that the facility has reverted to mandating masks.

“We wanted to, No. 1, protect our patients, and, No. 2, protect the men and women who work in our facility, and take care of them,” Thomas told NPR. “So, we implemented universal masking for staff, visitors, and patients only in clinical areas. So, we’re a university. We’re large. We have a lot of non-clinical regions. Universal masking is not being mandated in non-clinical areas.”

Category: News

August 17, 2023

LAWT News Service


On Tuesday, August 8, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Christopher A. Coes (U.S. DOT) met with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) executives, local authorities and community members to celebrate the recently awarded grant funding for the “RAISE Up Watts:

Catalyzing Connectivity through Active Transportation” project in Los Angeles.


The group met at the Watts Towers Art Center for a brief walking tour where Coes had an up close and personal look at the Watts community and heard, first-hand, about the direct impact the funding will have on the community.  

The walking tour concluded with a Community Fair at the Watts Towers Amphitheatre, featuring booths from community partners including LAUSD, Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative, LA Neighborhood Land Trust, Eastside Riders, We Care Outreach and the Watts Rising Street Team. Coes took time to visit each partner booth.  

Funded from the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity” (RAISE) grant program, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the award, totaling $6,967,923, will be used to plan and construct improvements to the Wilmington Avenue Corridor and Rainbow Bridge, intersection improvements, traffic calming measures, landscaping, sidewalks, public art, wayfinding signage, bulb-outs, utility relocation, and ADA ramps. 

Following the fair, a press conference was held with remarks by Senator Steven Bradford, Lynn Von Kock-Liebert, executive director of Strategic Growth Council for the State of California, and Hamilton Cloud, special projects director for Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

Yumi Kawasaki, principal of Markham Middle School, was also joined by local parents to emphasize the importance of these pending infrastructural changes and the positive impact they will have on the students as they transport to and from school daily. The event concluded with a check presentation from Coes. 

“The Watts Rising Collaborative has provided us with significant feedback from local community organizations that will allow us to address very specific needs in the Watts community,” said HACLA President/CEO Doug Guthrie.

“RAISE Up Watts is a continuation of our commitment in Watts to link arms and work together to achieve what this community has long deserved – better jobs, safer streets, clean air, and long, healthy lives.”  

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is delivering safe, reliable and sustainable infrastructure improvements, and this grant will help enhance mobility, safety and the quality of life for residents of the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles,” said Coes.

“The $6.9 million RAISE grant for improvements along the Wilmington Avenue Corridor, which includes the replacement of the Rainbow Bridge connecting to the Watts Cultural Trail, will increase access to employment, education, shopping, healthcare and other services while making it easier for residents to walk or bike to their destinations.”

Category: News

August 17, 2023

LAWT News Service


On Saturday, July 29, the Los Angeles Chapter of the African American Real Estate Professionals AAREP LA held a behind-the-scenes look at monumental projects and acquisitions across South Los Angeles led by Black developers who have taken a conscientious, community-first approach to real estate and economic development over the past year.

The seven featured sites, valued at approximately $1 billion, represent a wide-ranging collection of mixed income and mixed-use, affordable housing, retail, office as well as a planned creative campus for studio and sound stage production. Tour participants heard from industry veterans Rochelle Mills, Innovative Housing Opportunities; Stanley Washington and Sherri Franklin , Stocker Street Creative; Malcolm Johnson and Bryce Grandison, Langdon Park Capital;  Jennifer McElyea, ETHOS Real Estate;; and Saul McDonald, CCIM, Avanath Capital Management.

The event was sponsored by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) as part of their mission to shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide.


Michael Tidwell of Cushman & Wakefield served as event moderator. According to Tidwell, “This tour, in a nutshell, showcased the power of community-focused development backed by a formidable network.”

McElyea of ETHOS Real Estate showcased their Crenshaw Crossing project noting, "We’re trying to meet the spectrum of tenant profiles because some people make too much to qualify for affordable housing, but they can’t afford market. We’re trying to hit every segment of the community." Crenshaw Crossing will have 401 rental apartment units and 40,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor including a grocery. Ethos also shared more on their Residences at Woodlake in Baldwin Village.

Baldwin Village Apartments is an Avanath Capital Management, LLC property. Recognized as the nation’s largest Black-owned affordable housing investor, Avanath made a record $220 million investment to help stabilize housing the community by purchasing the 669-unit Baldwin Village Apartments.

Johnson and Grandison of Langdon Park Capital shared more on Langdon Park at Baldwin Village. These two workforce housing communities in South Los Angeles are part of their mission to create lasting social impact in historically Black and Latino communities.

The goal of Stocker Street Creative is to build a transformative state-of-the-art creative campus for studio and sound stage production, creative industry office spaces, business and technology incubation and industry specific job development within a collaborative ecosystem designed to drive economic development within the South and Southeast Los Angeles communities while leveraging the greater Los Angeles County creative industry. The tour also included Urban Design Center’s Shedrick Creative Arts Community.

Another property profiled on the tour, 87th & Western is a mixed-use, mixed- income community revitalization development that will include a diverse mix of residents as well as affordable pedestrian-oriented commercial and retail spaces. Located within walking distance of Gramercy Park, grocery stores, a Kaiser medical facility and transit, the project’s design honors the single-family homes along 87th and 88th streets.

The day concluded with the organization’s Annual Networking Brunch sponsored by OneUnited Bank, the nation’s largest Black-owned bank.

At the brunch, AAREP saluted prominent real estate attorney George Clayton Fatheree, III with a special recognition presented by AAREP LA officer Troy S. Jenkins. Fatheree has a distinguished profile and reputation in California – and nationwide – built on his commercial real estate practice, counseling of artists and museums in arts and culture transactions, civil rights-focused pro bono work and extensive civic and community service.

Fatheree is engaged in impact-focused pro bono matters such as representing the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce in the landmark return of the Bruce’s Beach property – a groundbreaking transaction involving the return of property that was wrongly taken from an African American family almost 100 hundred years ago.

Fatheree also represented Debbie Allen Dance Academy in its acquisition, financing and development of a state-of-the-art performing arts academy in the West Adams district of Los Angeles, and assisted Black Lives Matter Los Angeles in its acquisition of a headquarters building. These projects have been recognized as important civic and cultural additions to the city.


AAREP’s brunch also featured keynote speaker, Areva Martin, an award-winning civil rights attorney, talk show host, legal commentator and entrepreneur. A Harvard Law School graduate, Areva founded the Los Angeles-based civil rights firm, Martin & Martin LLP. She is the lead attorney representing thousands of African American and Latino survivors and descendants of Section 14 who suffered an estimated $2 billion dollars in damages when the City of Palm Springs burned and razed their homes in the 1950s and '60s.

A best-selling author of four books, she is the founder of Special Needs Network, Inc., one of the state’s leading autism and social justice nonprofits.  One hundred percent of the proceeds from ticket sales of the bus tour went to the benefit of the Special Needs Network.

The event was summed up by AAREP LA President and industry luminary, Kimberly Brown of IMPACT Realty Advisors, “South LA is a community rich with history and pride.  As a native of the community, I’ve personally seen a long history of disinvestment and now a surge in outside investment with precarious outcomes like gentrification with displacement.  Our organization is a robust ecosystem of interdisciplinary commercial real estate professionals.  We were proud to showcase our developers and investors who continue to play a significant role in the transformation of our community through a lens from within.  We are part of the solution.”

Category: News

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