Nonprofit seeks to increase access and diversity in private schools

A local nonprofit is working to help students in under-served communities gain access to private schools.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Angela Wandrick is a Los Angeles native who attended public schools and universities, and was introduced to the idea of private schools through family.

Her niece and nephew attended private schools with the support of the Independent School Alliance.

"It was like OK, when my children get of age, this is the route we're going to take," she said.

For decades, the Independent School Alliance has worked to increase access and diversity in some of the top schools. According to a 2018 UCLA Civil Rights Project paper, enrollment in private schools in 2015 was 68.6% white, 9.3% Black, 10.4% Latino and 6.9% Asian.

"Our job is to identify keys and families, help them and make them aware of independent school education as an option, and provide support through the application process. And once they're placed in a school, continue to provide ongoing support," said Independent School Alliance executive director Rob Evans.

The organization assisted Benjamin Wandrick with his application and he's now a student at Chadwick School.

Paola Santos is heading into her senior year at Brentwood School.

The Alliance and the students they work with are focused not only on increasing diversity in numbers but also shaping culture.

"We just gave a presentation to the administration to hopefully work with them in making meaningful curriculum and cultural reforms on campus that can better represent POC and Latinx students," Santos said.

Brentwood School has also helped Santos get more involved in deeply personal topics. "We went to Tijuana for a little less than a week. We were really able to have firsthand accounts with asylum seekers and hopeful refugees," she said.

Santos does not yet know if the next school year will be entirely online. As school districts across the country confront the lack of resources going to pandemic central said she acknowledges the need for the same opportunities in under-served communities.

"My school not having been hugely affected by the digital divide, having resources to help families," she said. "So many things like that that I think we're seeing those disparities even more apparent during the pandemic."

About 2,500 students have gone through the Alliance and on to some of the top universities.
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