Watts, Los Angeles (KABC) - Operation Progress pairs students in Watts with LAPD mentors. The students are then placed in schools with 100 percent high school graduation rates.
"Vern Day High School and St. Mary's Academy in Inglewood graduate 100 percent of kids. Compare that with Nickerson Gardens, which is 10 percent," said Theresa Gartland, the executive director of Operation Progress. Gartland said the program was created by an Los Angeles police officer who was frustrated that kids in Watts didn't have enough opportunities. Students can apply to begin the program in the 3rd grade. Those selected are given scholarships to attend the St. Lawrence of Brindisi School in Watts.
"There's no other organization in L.A., particularly Watts, that weaves the thread all the way through," said Theresa Gartland, the executive director of Operation Progress. An individual LAPD officer checks up on the students school work and communicates with the kids' parents.
"The Operation Progress LAPD mentoring program is the highest form of community policing there is," said Gartland. Officer Andy Salcido said he rewards students for good grades with pizza parties.
"When I was young, you'd do something that's awesome but nobody would ever come up to you and say, 'hey, you did a good job. I try to let them know, when they do something good, they're doing a great job!'" said Salcido. Officer Salcido said it is changing perceptions for parents in the community.
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