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Octavia Spencer, Liam Hemsworth, Amy Schumer, Pharrell Williams take part in City Year Los Angeles' carnival-style party

So popular is the “Spring Break: Destination Education” event that teens, tweens and their families began flooding into Sony Studios in Culver City as soon as the gates opened for the May 6 carnival-style party.

An annual fundraiser for City Year Los Angeles, the spirited “Spring Break” gathering raised $1.8 million to help keep high-needs students in school and on track to graduate.


The scene

“I feel the vibe,” said Sterling K. Brown of NBC’s “This Is Us” the minute he passed through the double line of City Year’s AmeriCorps members, shouting cheers to all those entering the grounds.

Inside, cool breezes filled the night air, but no one appeared to mind the weather amid the food, games and interactive booths surrounding them. High energy marked the event, which ended with a performance by OneRepublic.

OneRepublic closes the carnival-style City Year Los Angeles party in Culver City. The annual event raised $1.8 million to help keep high-needs students in school and on track to graduate.
OneRepublic closes the carnival-style City Year Los Angeles party in Culver City. The annual event raised $1.8 million to help keep high-needs students in school and on track to graduate. (Charley Gallay / Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles)

The crowd

Celebrities turned up en masse. Guests could barely turn around without bumping into an A-lister. Liam Hemsworth said he comes each year out of a longstanding belief in the cause.

“My father worked in child protection services,” said “The Hunger Games” star.

Liam Hemsworth, left, and Octavia Spencer.
Liam Hemsworth, left, and Octavia Spencer. (Charley Gallay / Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles)

Another regular attendee, Chord Overstreet of “Glee,” said he appreciates the focus on education and especially enjoys hearing the success stories that students tell during the evening.

Standing nearby, Octavia Spencer weighed in on the importance of education. “Education got me out of poverty,” said the Academy Award winner.

Chord Overstreet.
Chord Overstreet. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles)

The guest list

Star power blazed throughout the party. Among the guests were Amy Schumer, Orlando Bloom, Jennifer Garner, Pharrell Williams, Emma Roberts, Brittany Snow, Bryan Cranston, Alison Brie, Natalie Martinez, Mahershala Ali, Halston Sage, Holland Roden, Jillian Rose Reed, Julie Bowen, Tracee Ellis Ross, Milo Ventimiglia, Ne-Yo, Christian Navarro, Melanie Brown, B.J. Novak, Claire Holt, Jennette McCurdy, Zoey Deutch, Ali Larter and Zendaya.

Yvette Nicole Brown, left, and Tracee Ellis Ross attend the City Year Los Angeles Spring Break event.
Yvette Nicole Brown, left, and Tracee Ellis Ross attend the City Year Los Angeles Spring Break event. (Charley Gallay / Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles)

The formula to success

“We want to make it easy for celebrities to say ‘Yes,’” said event co-chair Stacey Snider, 20th Century Fox Film chairman and chief executive. “It’s casual. There are no public requirements. [We say,] ‘You can walk the red carpet if you want but you don’t have to. You can come for 10 minutes or you can stay for an hour. You can come in your pajamas. It’s not fancy.’”

Most important, Snider said, the celebrities come to support the AmeriCorps members. “It’s a validation,” she said. “It says to them, ‘Your work is worthy.’”

Pharrell Williams, left, Stacey Snider and Ryan Tedder.
Pharrell Williams, left, Stacey Snider and Ryan Tedder. (Charley Gallay / Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles)

The numbers

Tickets for the more than 1,400 guests sold for $400 each with sponsorships ranging up to $100,000.

Milo Ventimiglia attends City Year Los Angeles Spring Break on May 6.
Milo Ventimiglia attends City Year Los Angeles Spring Break on May 6. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for City Year Los Angeles)

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Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News LA.

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