Making a Difference in South Central Los Angeles

This blog post is written by Diana Pinto, Executive Director of the South Central Los Angeles Ministry Project (SC LAMP). The organization was a recipient of an Honorable Mention Special Impact Grant from Pi Beta Phi Foundation in 2014. Happy Read > Lead > Achieve Month!

DSCN2117.JPGEarlier this year, my organization received great news … we learned we were a recipient of an Honorable Mention Special Impact Grant from Pi Beta Phi Foundation. First, I want to share my gratitude. We learned that members of Pi Beta Phi make these grants possible through giving to the Foundation, so we thank you for your support and generosity. Second, I want to tell you a little about our organization and work in literacy.

To give you some history, SC LAMP was formed after the civil unrest and ensuing riots in Los Angeles in 1992, when a group of women religious orders canvassed the devastated neighborhood to find out how they could better support the community as it struggled to rebuild and survive. What they found was a large community of immigrant women who didn’t understand the public school system or how to support their children’s educational learning. With the aid of an almost entirely volunteer staff, SC LAMP opened its doors to assist these women in their desire to help their children succeed.

Today, 22 years later, SC LAMP provides ESL (English as a Second Language) classes to approximately 40 women a year and Early Childhood Education programs to almost 115 children. Our principal goals are to teach women how to advocate for themselves and their children, to learn that they are their children’s first teachers and to help them understand the importance of preparing their children for higher education. Of course, literacy is a major component in all these efforts!

Research has found that South Los Angeles has the greatest number and largest proportion of children living in poverty in Los Angeles County (2008 Children’s ScoreCard, The Children’s Council of Los Angeles). In 2013, California data showed that only 33% of economically disadvantaged 3rd graders were proficient in reading, compared to 67% among students in higher income families ( These are just a few statistics that support the work we do; there are so many needs in this large under-served and under-resourced community.DSCN2125.JPG

We know that there is power in literacy and for that reason our program varies in the ways it works to engage our parents and children in embracing literacy. One example is the Parent Child Interactive Literacy Activities Program where parents and children learn different ways to include literacy in their everyday life. We offer Literacy Workshops, a Reading Challenge where children compete to read the most books in two weeks, and we have “Trick-or-Treating” for books during our Harvest Festival each year. It’s amazing to see how much our parents and children grow in their skills throughout the year just by participating in these activities. By the end of the program year, most families have built a home library with more than 30 books!

We could not do all we do without the generous support of our donors and grants like the one we received from Pi Beta Phi Foundation. I am also truly inspired by the work your organization does in literacy. It is reassuring to know that as a community of literacy lovers we are all working hard to change the lives of so many. Thank you for validating and supporting our work by making us a recipient of greatly needed funds. To learn more about our organization, watch our video here.

As a part of Read > Lead > Achieve Month, Pi Beta Phi Foundation has opened its online application for Special Impact Grants. This year, the Foundation will be awarding FIVE $10,000 grants to organizations working in literacy. Do you or your sisters know of an organization that could benefit from a grant? Please encourage them to apply! The application deadline is November 15. Follow this link to learn more and for the online application.

Stories from the Road: LDC Abby

This post is courtesy of Ohio Beta Abby Camp, Leadership Development Consultant.

Abby Q&A


Even though I have only ‘officially’ been a Leadership Development Consultant for a few months now, I have already come in contact with some of the most influential and driven leaders of our organization. Through my travels and time spent at Headquarters, these women have already inspired in me the same passion that has driven them to give to Pi Beta Phi. Through their example, the example of the alumnae and women of my own chapter as well as the collegiate leaders I have met across the country, I have observed characteristics that are key to becoming a successful female leader.

  1. Efficiency
    • Working in an efficient manner is essential to be a successful leader. This means always completing tasks in a timely and effective way.
  2. Good Communication Skills
    • I cannot stress the importance of great communication in the success of an organization. Even those leaders with great intentions and ideas can fail without proper methods of communication. In order to engage all members of an organization and ensure each is contributing to the overall goals, the leader needs to use good communication skills and methods.
  3. Flexibility
    • The ability to ‘go with the flow’ is so important in good leadership. Whether planning events, orchestrating projects, or even just completing routine tasks, a good leader should be prepared to tackle last minute changes.
  4. Empathy
    • In order to be a caring and respected leader, it is imperative for the individual to understand the needs and personal situations of her group members. As a leader, the group looks to her for guidance and assistance, but if she is unable to put herself in the same position as her members her good intentions can come across in a negative manner.
  5. Strategic
    • Leaders need to be able to assess a situation, analyze potential solutions and then quickly react to the situation at hand. If they are able to complete these tasks while simultaneously maintaining their composure, they have become incredible problem solvers.
  6. Dedication
    • Late nights, missed social events and difficult scenarios are commonplace for many student leaders. No matter the position or organization, each leader can count a time or two that they have had to sacrifice, in some way, for the cause at hand. However, these small sacrifices along the way are not concerning to the true leaders for they understand that the things they give up now will later lead to reaching their goals and future success.
  7. Reliable
    • Along with dedication, a leader is only as respected as her word is true. For strong leaders, follow-through is not only expected but it is compulsory. If a leader commits to an obligation and she cannot keep her commitment, then she is upfront and honest about this instead of just ignoring the task.
  8. Servant Leader
    • In my opinion, a servant’s heart is the most important aspect of true leadership. The leader is there to serve her community and make an impact in the lives of those around her. A servant leader does not work for her own rewards but for the rewards of others.
  9. Values Based
    • Regardless of religion, beliefs, or culture — a leader needs to have a solid values base. By values, I mean a common ground of beliefs, understanding of right and wrong and perceptions of the world around her.
  10. Charismatic
    • Lastly, the most successful leaders in history have used their charismatic personalities to not only gain dedicated followers, but to ignite the fire of change within their communities.

Many members of Pi Beta Phi give to the organization on a daily basis. These women not only give of their time and their funds, but give of themselves through their talents, passions and loyalty. With many months still to go and many new places to visit, I am confident that my own leadership skills will only continue to grow and strengthen through the leaders I have yet to meet.


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