Purpose Prize

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Harold Haizlip

Purpose Prize Fellow 2008

Bringing in the arts to transform life for under-served public school children.

After more than 40 years as a teacher and education industry leader, Harold Haizlip was still dissatisfied with the impact he was having on disadvantaged students he believed had the power to succeed. As a member of a commission formed after the 1994 LA riots to address trauma the events had inflicted on schoolchildren, Haizlip proposed a unique intervention program – to use art as therapy. Haizlip brought the distant universe of art into the gritty lives of students at poor under-achieving Los Angeles elementary schools by introducing them to successful artists from their own communities. The LA’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow) After School Enrichment Program keeps the youngsters off the streets, enriches them with subjects and activities they wouldn’t otherwise experience, and provides inspirational role models. LA’s BEST serves 26,000 students at 180 schools every school day at no cost to students or parents. Studies find the program has reduced absenteeism and produced significant gains in learning and skills and students’ sense of self-efficacy and self-empowerment, greater participation and success in school and classroom activities, and a dramatic increase of interest in the arts.  “Over the years, I became increasingly dissatisfied with my lack of success in opening doors for low income students much like myself in my childhood. I never thought about giving up on this goal, regardless of my age.”