By Dorany Pineda
When Courtney was a junior in high school, he went through a really rough time and was performing poorly in his classes.
But when the organization Dynasty United Youth Association stepped in to provide tutoring for him, his test scores and grades started to improve, and he eventually got back on track to graduate. Now, he is a community college student pursuing a career in mechanical engineering.
Back in April 2014, Dynasty Taylor launched the nonprofit to help under-resourced kids like Courtney succeed in school. What started with tutoring two children at the Baldwin Hills Library expanded into servicing 100 children a week from about 40 schools throughout Los Angeles.
“The services are at a high demand because we’re dealing with a lot of issues,” said Taylor, the nonprofit’s founder and chief executive officer. “The first issue is the culture of education. A lot of our students don’t have accessibility to supplemental support outside of school.”
And most of those she’s talking about are Latino and African-American students from South Los Angeles. To combat that, the organization’s goal is to build a bridge of resources and programs to support students of color as well as those with disabilities.
The latter is a large demographic that the nonprofit serves, Taylor said. In fact, about 50 percent of students who get tutoring help from the organization have a mental disability like attention deficit disorder, dyslexia or autism.
As students get older and start looking for jobs, they begin to need skills and real-life experiences to enter the workforce, she said. To prepare them, the organization provides high schoolers with internship opportunities and community service hours.
This preparation is the nonprofit’s way of offering guidance and advice to youth who might not have it at home or elsewhere.
“We have generations and generations of our students being lost in terms of their self-identity, their leadership, their character … so in our organization, we create a space where people can have hope,” Taylor said.
This attainment of hope is a collective effort, which is why the organization often works with other agencies in the city to help it strengthen its impact on youth.
Its partnership with Create Now –– a nonprofit focused on serving children through the arts –– gives youth access to free events in the city, including football games and movie screenings.
And every year, with help from neighborhood councils, the youth association organizes giveaways to families in need. With Thanksgiving approaching, dozens of families can take free turkeys home for dinner.
While Taylor would like to expand the services and resources to more libraries within the city, she also seeds a dire need for them in parks and juvenile detention centers.
“As a community organization, we want to be anywhere where the need is, so that could be in schools, in parks, in libraries, in juvenile detention centers … we basically want to meet students where they are.”
But Dynasty United Youth Association’s ultimate goal, Taylor said, is figuring out how to make life better for the communities it serves by making necessary services accessible and equitable.
“This community has so many things going on,” she said. “We just want to make sure we’re part of the solution and not the problem.”
CEO: Dynasty Taylor
Years in operation: 4
Budget: $ 100,000
Location: Libraries throughout Los Angeles