Peter Rivera, California Community Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: K-12 education reform

CONTACT: privera@calfund.org, 213-413-4130

IP TAKE: With shaky funding and less-than-stellar academic standings, the Los Angeles education system can only benefit from Rivera's help.

PROFILE: The public school system in California is in dire straits. Luckily, the California Community Foundation's senior program officer of education, Peter Rivera, is at the helm working to improve the quality of education.

Rivera joined CCF's team in 2010, after working as a program manager in the San Diego Unified School District. He also worked at the Hechinger Institute for Education and the Media at Teachers College at Columbia University. He received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master's degree in public policy from the University of Southern California. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Teachers College at Columbia University.

Rivera heads the CCF education program, which works to highlight and improve the struggles of "underrepresented students, including students of color, those from low-income communities, English learners and others who lack access to quality pre-kindergarten learning experiences, highly qualified teachers, and the kinds of sufficient educational resources that will enable them to thrive."

The action plan for addressing these issues is to increase performance in math and literacy among low-income, minority, and English learners, ranging in age from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade throughout the Los Angeles area.

The strategies include providing more opportunities for children to increase school readiness, promoting parental engagement, increasing the availability of the professional development of teachers (to help meet the needs of a varied student population), and building evaluation capacity for nonprofits that cannot provide impact data of their programs. CCF is partnered with the Ford Foundation on the More and Better Learning Initiative. The Ford Foundation's program aims to create a daily school schedule where children can get the basics while still having time for art, physical education, and college or internship preparation courses.

Rivera is also involved in the FEDCO teacher grant program, which was established after the FEDCO stores closed in 1999. The grant program, which will award more than $330,000 during the 2012-2013 school year, was started after the company filed for bankruptcy. The creditors and employee benefits were paid, and the remaining assets of $7 million were allocated to establish the foundation.

To be eligible for grants, teachers must work in kindergarten through 12th grade in the Los Angeles Unified School District, ABC/Cerritos, Culver City, Norwalk-La Mirada, or Pasadena districts. Teachers are required to design projects connected to core curriculum standards that include "engaging and creative experiential learning activities" (like a field trip to a museum or other hands-on activities) that involve one of the four areas of study: language arts, math, science, or social studies.

At this time, Rivera is also supporting the Preparing Achievers for Tomorrow (PAT) program, which is a five year, $12 million initiative that works to "improve academic achievement, decision making skills, and self-esteem" in the South Los Angeles and South Bay area through sports, music, and recreation. The program was established in 2011 when an anonymous donor left a legacy gift to the organization.