The Wooden Floor mission is to empower low-income youth from diverse backgrounds to strengthen self-esteem, self-discipline and their sense of accomplishment through dance, academic and family programs. Serving the most economically-disadvantaged youth in central Orange County, we bring about generational change to break the cycle of poverty in our community.

Description of how the funds will be used:

These funds will be used to provide for a new Academic Coordinator and a tutor for TWF’s highly successful Academic Services and Pre-collegiate Mentoring Program run year-round for 375 students, grades three through 12. It offers sequential programs that increase academic achievement and access to college, facilitate the transition to college and raise expectations about success after college. Increased staffing will support individualized pre-collegiate mentoring to help students envision careers that will lift them out of poverty and chart a course through higher education to achieve their life goals.

Description of Program, what makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address:

Only 9% of Latinos nationwide have Bachelor’s degrees. In Santa Ana, home to most of TWF’s students, only 53% of residents have a high school diploma. Without The Wooden Floor, these students (at high risk for gang involvement, becoming victims of violence, drug use and teen pregnancy) would remain trapped in a cycle of poverty, limited to fulfill their potential. TWF’s year-round afterschool programs, with 10-year (3rd grade to college) mentoring commitment, increase academic achievement and college enrollment, facilitate successful transition to college, and raise expectations about success after college for 375 low-income Latino students. For the past 10 years, 100% of TWF senior class students have graduated high school on time and enrolled in college, and 51% have graduated with Bachelor’s degree or higher, most as first in their family. In addition to the academic component, every student takes dance which encourages self-discovery, confidence, discipline, risk taking, goal setting and commitment and achievement through hard work. As TWF enriches and empowers its students, they become role models for a path out of poverty, creating a ripple effect that uplifts quality of life and capacity for their families and our community.

Describe the Organization as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards: High Impact, Direct Benefit, Education, Sustainability, Community Building, Innovative, Measurable:

The Wooden Floor meets each IG Grant Standard through the following measurable outcomes: (1) improved grades and college readiness – average student body GPA (375 students) maintained at 3.0 or higher for 4 consecutive years; (2) 100% on time high school graduation – achieved 10 consecutive years; (3) 100% immediate college enrollment – achieved 10 consecutive years; (4) from 2005 to 2011, of 135 TWF graduates, 65 have bachelor’s degrees and 4 have master’s degrees – a 51% higher education degree achievement rate compared to nine percent of their peers nationally. Direct benefit for students goes far beyond academic achievement. TWF’s creative youth development model is innovative in its holistic, unique blend of dance, academic and family services that foster creativity, teamwork, self-sufficiency and courage. TWF’s Family Services also helps parents navigate socioeconomic challenges so their students can thrive. Through the nurturing community TWF has built a “second home” for disadvantaged students; they gain confidence and skills to succeed in school and in life. TWF has a sustainable business model based on diverse sources of revenue, forward-funding, an endowment, and conservative fiscal practices that honor its commitment to donors to steward resources for maximum impact. The Wooden Floor is so innovative in its approach and successful results, it is currently evaluating licensing its model to other organization partners in cities nationwide.

Organization’s overall annual budget: $2,483,670