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Behind Every Smile is a Story…
You wouldn’t know to look at the full and smiling faces of Mama Hill’s kids that behind almost each one there is a tragedy. Mama Hill’s Help a Watts-based after school program founded in 2001, is a refuge for these 50 or so kids and their families; a place for learning and, for once in their lives, a violence free zone.
In today’s inner city communities, such as South Los Angeles, high school drop out rates have never been higher; the prison population of blacks and browns is exploding, teen pregnancy, unemployment and homelessness are the highest in 20 years. Classrooms are overcrowded with students suffering from poverty, pre-natal drug exposure, low self-esteem, depression, and incarcerated parents.
Millicent Hill, a.k.a. Mama Hill, a retired teacher with LAUSD, has, over her 45-year career as an award-winning educator, poet, and activist, changed the lives of thousands of youngsters through her innovative teaching style. Today she and her small staff cover an array of issues within the core curricula-from anger management to teen pregnancy-as most of her youngsters are living under the cloud of violence, grief, abandonment or abuse, which all too often impedes their ability to learn.
All of Mama Hill’s kids, age 6 to 17, are enrolled in Title One schools, and although a few have some of their special needs addressed, most-as a result of classroom over-crowding and funding cuts to student support staff don’t even have those special needs identified, no less addressed.
In addition to the mental and emotional challenges and literacy issues not being addressed during the regular school day, some of Mama Hill’s kids must pass through as many as ten separate gang territories to travel from home to school and to her headquarters and back using public transportation. For all of these youngsters, learning is a Herculean feat; and Mama Hill will tell you that in it, they are all Olympic champions.
The waiting list for Mama Hill’s Help is long but test scores and rising grades are proof that her unorthodox techniques work. Her explanation for the room full of attentive and eager learners: “Our lesson plans encourage each child to process information in his or her own way-by listening, observing, acting or speaking-and then sharing what was learned with the others.” According to Mama Hill, her teaching methods encourage engagement, and thus build a commonality between students; which leads to their full comprehension and eliminates individual frustrations.
Mama Hill’s Help is known by everyone in the community as a “safe haven”. Many former gang members often stop by Mama Hill’s to speak to the children about the dangers of gangs and drugs. Mama Hill’s Help provides a safe and drug free place where every week neighborhood kids come to get help in tutoring, job skills training, violence and molestation prevention, gang intervention and prevention, anger management courses, conflict resolution, music appreciation, life skills, pregnancy prevention and abstinence, school exit exams, and college preparation.
Throughout its 15 years of operation, Mama Hill’s Help has achieved an amazing rate of success. Mama Hill’s youth are thriving, as each receives a healthy dose of love and encouragement along with the tutoring, mentoring and counseling services the program provides.
50% of Mama Hill’s Help students have increased parental and caretaker involvement in their achievement and academic careers.
75% of all graduates from Mama Hill’s Help are gainfully employed.
80% of Mama Hill’s Help students read above grade level
90% of Mama Hill’s Help students have increased their social skills.
95% of the youth who have graduated from Mama Hill’s Help, also graduated from high school. Many are now pursuing degrees at colleges across the nation.
100% of Mama Hill’s Help students have been promoted to the next grade.
Mama Hill’s Help is nationally renowned and the recipient of numerous educational and public service awards. Hill’s exceptional work with children has been recognized by several members of the Los Angeles community, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and others. Mama Hill’s Help has also been featured on the John Walsh Show (NBC-TV), FOX 11 News, KTLA Morning News, and other news media.
More About Us...
MEET MAMA HILL
Millicent Hill is a retired school teacher with LAUSD. Over her 45-year career as an award-winning educator, poet, and activist......
Partners of Mama Hill’s Help are recognized here and we would like all of our visitors to take a moment and......
PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY
Mama Hill isn't just a local celebrity, she has fans in high places! Check out her feature on Oprah Winfrey's Soul Pancake Web Series and much more......