Horace Mann UCLA Community School: Stability, Agency, and Love

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“Horace Mann UCLA Community School is a public school that has proudly served its neighborhood for almost a century. Located near the intersection of Florence and Western Avenues in South Los Angeles, the 1926 building stands tall, surrounded by well-kept homes and sports fields. Bryan Canales, a high school senior, recalls an uncle that years ago started a local soccer team on the field. “Horace Mann is just always a meeting place for all the kids around the neighborhood. Just come hang out.” The school is also known as a safe haven in an area plagued by the social and economic conditions that foster addiction, crime, violence and poverty. Jamaica Murphy, who attended Horace Mann in the 1990s, shares how her aunt used to meet her on the front steps and walk her home to shield her from the dangers and violence in the neighborhood. Like Bryan, Jamaica experienced a sense of family at Horace Mann. “We learned what it meant to be a community with each other.”

When Jamaica attended Horace Mann, the halls were filled with close to 2,000 middle school students. Over the past twenty years, enrollment has steadily decreased alongside the rapid expansion of charter schools in the area–a trend across LAUSD, which has the highest charter school enrollment in the country. Responding to the national epidemic of school closures in Black and Brown neighborhoods, UCLA partnered with the school in 2016 to ensure Mann’s future as an excellent public school and center of the community. Enrollment has steadily grown as this historic middle school expanded to incorporate grades 9-12, and was renamed Horace Mann UCLA Community School. In June 2021, the first cohort of Seniors graduated, all with postsecondary college-going plans.”

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