LA’s BEST After School Program Partners with National University’s Sanford Harmony to Support Student Success

Sanford Harmony, an innovative PreK-6 social emotional learning program, to be introduced to after school programs throughout the City of Los Angeles

Los Angeles, Calif.May 23, 2016Sanford Harmony, an innovative social-emotional learning program that reinforces positive peer interactions among children, will soon expand to Los Angeles after school programs run by LA’s BEST, an organization that provides safe and supervised after school education, enrichment and recreation programs. The agreement with California-based National University, which is leading the program’s expansion, means that LA’s BEST will ultimately integrate the PreK-6 Sanford Harmony program at nearly 200 school sites serving 25,000 children.

National University is a private nonprofit university with a strong tradition preparing and educating PreK-12 educators, and the University is actively collaborating with other higher education institutions, schools and organizations to expand Sanford Harmony nationally. The program provides easy-to-use lesson plans and resources at no cost to educators that encourage communication, collaboration, and celebrating differences among students.

The agreement, which was officially announced at Sunday’s LA’s BEST Annual Family Brunch Event, involves introducing the program to LA’s BEST’s after school programs at schools that are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest system. It complements current efforts led by National University, which have resulted in Sanford Harmony being adopted in more than 5,000 classrooms around the country, representing over 100,000 students in 20 states.

“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with Sanford Harmony at National University to introduce this worthy program that has already demonstrated significant impacts in classrooms around the country,” said LA’s BEST President & CEO Eric Gurna. “The mission of Sanford Harmony aligns strongly with our emphasis on engaging activities that help children create values, build skills and solidify peer and adult relationships.”

LA’s BEST after school programs, which are aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 12, serve Los Angeles elementary schools in neighborhoods most vulnerable to gangs, drugs, crime and at schools with the lowest student test scores.

Sanford Harmony was inspired by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who saw a need for developing strong social and emotional skills in children as a way to improve relationships between adults. The PreK-6 research-based program, which includes classroom lesson plans, storybooks and activity prompts, was originally developed at Arizona State University and has been found to encourage positive attitudes toward school, increased academic performance and empathy as well as reductions in stereotyping and aggression.

“We are so very pleased to be partnering with LA’s BEST to bring Sanford Harmony to after- school programs throughout the City of Los Angeles because together we can help children develop important life skills that support student development and achievement,” said Dr. David Andrews, President of National University.

“Thanks to the generosity and vision of Mr. Denny Sanford, Sanford Harmony is creating a foundation that will last a lifetime and impact generations to come,” said Dr. Michael R. Cunningham, Chancellor of the National University System which includes National University.

National University, which has the 10th largest school of education in the country, is now leading the national expansion of the program through collaborations with other universities, a group called the Sanford Education Collaborative that is introducing the program to schools within their own regions. The program expansion phase involves public and private schools, as well as organizations such as local Boys and Girls Clubs and Head Start programs.

About LA’s BEST
LA’s BEST was created in 1988 by Mayor Tom Bradley to address an alarming rise in the lack of adequate adult supervision of children during the critical hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The program serves over 25,000 kids at 194 elementary school sites in Los Angeles in neighborhoods most vulnerable to gangs, drugs, crime and at schools with the lowest student test scores. The mission of LA’s BEST is to provide a safe and supervised after school education, enrichment and recreation program for children ages 5 to 12 in the City of Los Angeles. LA’s BEST offers engaging activities that help children develop values, build skills and solidify relationships with adults and among their peers that collectively inspire children to want to learn more.

About National University and the Sanford Education Center
National University, founded in 1971, is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California with 30,000 students and more than 150,000 alumni. The University, an affiliate of the National University System, offers programs through two Colleges and four Schools, ranks as having among the Top Ten largest schools of education in the country.  The University is also the home of the Sanford Education Center, established in 2014 through the generous support of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford to provide innovative programs in the nonprofit and PreK-12 sector. The Center, in coordination with universities and organizations around the country, is leading the national expansion of three initiatives: Sanford Harmony, Sanford Inspire and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. Learn more about the Center’s initiatives here: