Reconnecting students through anytime, anywhere learning.

Da Vinci RISE exists to reconnect students with high school through anytime, anywhere learning. The school helps about 200 students who have been failed by the traditional school system—including students in foster care, those involved with the juvenile justice system, and those experiencing housing insecurity. RISE shows students how to rise up and create change.

Authorized by the Los Angeles County Board of Education as a Countywide Charter, Da Vinci RISE opened in 2017. Students frequently enroll in RISE later in their high school careers, having fallen behind in accumulating credits needed to graduate. “Most of our students have already attended multiple educational institutions before enrolling here,” Principal Naomi Lara explained. 

Because traditional schools don’t have adequate educational, social-emotional, and material resources for the students RISE serves, the school provides them with a nurturing and flexible schedule. It supports students through a hybrid learning model that blends competency-based and project-based learning to prepare them for a competitive and changing world.

 And it meets its students needs in another unusual way: by co-locating and integrating its services on-site at three non-profit organizations around Los Angeles.

RISE teachers develop caring, trusting relationships with their students in part because they receive distinct training to support them as they overcome difficult hardships. The school intentionally recruits staff members who want to work closely in a small, tight-knit team and build a strong, nurturing community of resilience from the ground up. 

The staff learn about trauma-informed care, nonviolent crisis intervention, restorative practices, and the workings of the legal and foster-care systems. RISE staff integrate social-emotional and academic support when making home visits, meeting with students online, and connecting students with outside services. Students praise the high level of support they receive from all RISE staff members, saying even the school’s security guards regularly talk with them about their progress.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, RISE’s mission is even more crucial to the county’s long-term goals with more than 51,000 homeless students in Los Angeles public schools and more than 7,000 students in foster care. The school is studying what it’s learned about working with students in difficult situations that can be applied to other schools and to education policy changes that can support these learners.

Student Outcomes

XQ administered a student survey on social and emotional learning (SEL) in the winter of 2022, finding that 94 percent of RISE students had at least one teacher or other adult in the school they could talk to if they had a problem.

In XQ’s other student survey of the Class of 2022, more than three in four 12th graders at RISE (76 percent) said they valued being able to work at their own pace to master what they needed to learn. Remarkably, every member of the RISE Class of 2022 reported feeling at least somewhat prepared for the future, with three in four feeling “very well” or “extremely well” prepared.

Kari Croft
“The biggest thing we are doing is putting kids back in the center of everything. We really are trying to gather their input, their schedules, the different learning pathways, then they have the services they need. [The current education system has always] taken kids and put them into a system, and now we’ve flipped that. We’re bringing a kid in and changing the system for them.”

Kari Croft

Founder

Kijera Williams
“I’ve become extremely passionate about Los Angeles’ housing crisis. I can’t vote yet but through my time at RISE I’ve become an advocate for those experiencing homelessness and supporting changes for this community in LA.”

Kijera

Class of 2023

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