Mayor Tom Bradley announced Tuesday that a total of $75,000 in private funds has been donated to a southwest Los Angeles elementary school for a gang prevention program that may be expanded citywide.
The money will be used by Challengers Boys and Girls Club to operate an after-school program of tutoring, arts and crafts and sports at Cienega Elementary School near Adams and LaBrea boulevards.
The announcement was made just days after Bradley's mayoral opponent, Councilman John Ferraro, criticized him for not providing leadership on the city's gang problems. It also marked the latest in a flurry of what one Bradley aide called "accomplishment-oriented" press conferences that the mayor has held recently in his campaign for reelection.
Last Friday Ferraro charged that Bradley is not supportive of a Police Department program aimed at controlling the proliferation of gangs.
Bradley said Tuesday that the new Challengers program, effective immediately, "was years in the making." He said that the help offered to the largely black and Latino low-income students will make them "much more productive citizens as they grow up. It's a lot cheaper to prevent than it is to try to correct once they get into that criminal justice cycle."
The program is a satellite operation of the original Challengers Club in South-Central Los Angeles, founded 17 years ago by then-custodian Lou Dantzler, now executive director of the club.
The brokerage firm of Bear, Stearns and Co. donated $50,000, and Bradley challenged other corporations to match the sum so that the program at Cienega can be expanded to other schools. The Boys Club Foundations of Southern California donated $24,500 and Howard Schafer, chairman of Challengers, donated $1,000.