South Los Angeles Schools to Celebrate New Effort to Reduce Food Insecurity, Improve Health in Low-Income Neighborhoods

LA Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, Chicago Red Stars’ Shannon Boxx, Debbie Allen Dance Academy to Participate in Saturday Garden Event Funded through New Citi Initiative

LOS ANGELES--()--On Saturday, October 25, some of the nation’s leading organizations in urban revitalization will join local families and celebrity guests to celebrate a new garden and athletic field in one of the most challenged neighborhoods in South Los Angeles. Through the new Citi GardensSM initiative, Citi Cards and the nonprofit Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) are working with Alliance College-Ready Public Schools (Alliance) and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LA Corps) to encourage healthy eating and active, healthy living for the school and neighborhood.

Professional athletes DeAndre Jordan (LA Clippers) and Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Congressmember Karen Bass, and choreographer and dancer Debbie Allen will attend the fall harvest event, along with 300 faculty, students and family members from Alliance. The event will include performances by the Alliance Luskin Choir & Dance Group and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, cooking demonstrations and an event featuring Jordan and Boxx.

The festival will celebrate the grand opening of a new 4,000-square-foot community garden and athletic field at the Alliance Renee & Meyer Luskin High School/Alliance College Ready Middle Academy 7 Campus in South Los Angeles, where 93 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. Throughout the year, the garden will be a focal point for science and nutrition education being incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

LIIF is serving as the hub in this effort by connecting Citi Cards, the sponsor of Citi Gardens, with Alliance—one of the most successful charter school organizations in the city. Since its founding in 2004, more than 95 percent of Alliance graduates have been accepted to college. LA Corps was identified as a local partner to build and maintain the garden, as well as provide educational support to the school faculty and students.

“LIIF is a national nonprofit organization focused on poverty alleviation that has a long track record of investing in the South Los Angeles neighborhood. This project exemplifies LIIF’s holistic approach to creating opportunity by connecting education with healthy food and smart development,” said Nancy O. Andrews, President and CEO of LIIF. “We are proud to work with Citi on this effort, which will give the students and families a greater chance to thrive and the community an opportunity to grow even stronger,” she said.

“This is far more than a garden and field. The garden is an opportunity to teach students about science, nutrition and cooking, and to provide fresh food for meals and snacks. The field will create places to play and exercise—building healthy habits for a lifetime of physical activity—and provide a new gathering spot for the community where none existed before,” said President and CEO Judy Burton from Alliance College-Ready Public Schools.

“Through Citi’s work with the Low Income Investment Fund, including its sponsorship of Citi Garden, Citi is helping to combat the important issue of food insecurity facing communities across the country," said Citi's Paula Kelley, Managing Director, Customer Solutions. “We look forward to engaging with the community this weekend as we celebrate the new community garden and playing field in South Los Angeles."

The LA Corps’ Little Green Fingers program provided local expertise to establish the garden and lead master gardening and cooking nutrition classes. “We are thrilled to be a part of this initiative because it aligns with our vision of building gardens, and making fresh fruits and vegetables available to families in low-income communities—which are historically healthy food deserts. The Citi Gardens and the nutrition education that we’ll be providing will help these families lead and maintain healthier lives,” said Wendy Butts, Chief Executive Officer for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

Sponsoring Citi Gardens is one way Citi Cards is helping to address national food insecurity through its Food on All Tables initiative, which is part of its Citi Table dining platform. A goal of the initiative is to increase food access and fresh sources of produce in the communities where Citi does business. Through the program Citi would like to engage local communities, cardmembers and employees to support this important cause.

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About Citi Gardens

In recent years, food insecurity has become an even greater issue of national concern in the United States. Currently, close to 50 million people in the U.S. do not have ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Unfortunately, 16 million children (1 in 5) live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.

Recognizing the need for a multi-sector response, Citi Cards has launched the Food on All Tables initiative as part of its Citi Table dining platform. Food on All Tables demonstrates Citi’s interest in combating food insecurity, an issue of major national concern.

The Food on All Tables initiative was launched in June 2014. Citi Cards, together with the nonprofit Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), has sponsored the establishment the new 4,000-square-foot garden and athletic field at an Alliance College-Ready Public Schools campus in order to give families and students the knowledge and resources they need to live healthier lives. Approximately 93 percent of students attending schools on the campus qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Additionally, the garden will be a focal point of a newly developed nutritional curriculum which will be implemented in the school’s science curriculum starting fall 2014.

This spring, over 200 Alliance teachers, students and family members helped break ground, build and plant the garden. Today, we celebrate the grand opening of the garden and its first harvest. Citi Cards and LIIF are proud to be working with Alliance and Los Angeles Conservation Corps to bring this project to the South Los Angeles neighborhood and support active and healthy futures for residents in the community. For more information please visit

About the Low Income Investment Fund

The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) invests capital to support healthy families and communities. Since 1984, LIIF has served 1.7 million people by investing $1.5 billion. Over its history, LIIF has provided financing and technical assistance to create and preserve affordable housing, child care centers, schools, healthy food retail, health clinics and transit-oriented development in distressed neighborhoods nationwide. LIIF’s work has generated $30 billion in family income and societal benefits. LIIF has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit

About Alliance College-Ready Public Schools

Alliance College-Ready Public Schools is the largest and most successful charter school organization in Los Angeles, operating 26 free, public charter schools that educate 11,000 low-income students. Alliance schools significantly outperform both Los Angeles Unified School District and the State of California on almost every measure. Of incoming 9th graders, 94% graduate in four years LAUSD and 95 percent of Alliance graduates are accepted to college. Four Alliance schools were named in the Top 25 Most Transformative Schools in the nation by Newsweek, and this year seven were named in the top eight percent of all high schools nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. Alliance’s goal is to move beyond educational “islands of excellence” and prove that a high quality public education for all students can be the rule, and not the exception. For more information please visit

About Los Angeles Conservation Corps

The Los Angeles Conservation Corps is the nation’s largest urban conservation corps. We employ young people between the ages of 18-24 from LA’s most poverty-stricken communities in our environmental job skills training program, and enroll those without diplomas in our affiliated charter school. Corpsmembers build parks and community gardens, plant trees, recycle tons of waste, remove graffiti, clear forest trails, and deliver energy efficiency messages to LA residents for local utilities. Select corpsmembers intern at our SEA Lab, a marine science education and marine animal rescue facility in Redondo Beach. Each day, as they heal their own communities and beyond, our young environmental stewards learn they have much to offer the world and are inspired to attain their academic and career goals.


Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF)
Samantha Hojo, 415-489-6113

Release Summary

On October 25, the nation’s leaders in urban revitalization will join local families and celebrity guests to celebrate a new garden and athletic field in one of the most challenged areas in South LA.


Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF)
Samantha Hojo, 415-489-6113