Dolores Mission, a Jesuit parish and elementary school best known as the birthplace of Homeboy Industries, broke ground on August 7 for a new 6,500 sq. ft., two-story facility to better serve the Boyle Heights community.
“As the Jesuits and the church and school walk with our families in good times and bad, this building project becomes a beacon of hope,” said Pastor Father Ted Gabrielli, SJ. “It underlines our belief in the children of this community. We’re committed to providing a quality education that not only transforms young people’s lives but the lives of their families. Serving more children from our community brings good news and hope to even more families.”
Dolores Mission announced its plans to build a new facility last year. The project will include two new classrooms for transitional kindergarten and kindergarten, a playground, meeting space for the school, parents, and youth groups, and office space for program administrators. The decision to expand came at a time when many families in the community needed more access to high quality early education for young children. Dolores Mission School added a combined transitional kindergarten and kindergarten class in 2015, but enrollment was limited due to space constraints.
Construction of the new facility will allow the school to expand enrollment from 250 to 300 students and enroll 30 students in transitional kindergarten and kindergarten, respectively. Phase 2 of the project will include a renovation of the existing school building to create a library, a music classroom, and bring more technology into each classroom.
“We are thrilled to embark on a new journey as our school facility grows,” said Dolores Mission School President Karina Moreno Corgan. “This new building symbolizes the good work that our students, parents, donors, and community have accomplished over the years. Our vision towards providing an excellent education to the children in Boyle Heights that prepares them well for success in high school and college is coming to fruition.”
Dolores Mission Church and School is grateful for the supporters and friends who have stepped forward to make this vision a reality. Shea Family Charities have been instrumental partners; the new facility would not be possible without their leadership and generosity. Individual contributions, gifts, and grants totaling more than $3 million have been pledged to date. The church and school plan to raise an additional $750,000 over the coming year to complete the project.
Dolores Mission School serves 250 students TK-8th grade from low-income families in Boyle Heights, with the goal to empower children to rise out of poverty by becoming educated leaders in their community: “women and men for and with others.” Nearly 70 percent of Dolores Mission School families earn less than $24,000 each year and 94 percent of students qualify for a free or reduced breakfast and lunch program. The school primarily serves families living in three housing projects surrounding the campus in Boyle Heights. Thanks to the generosity of individual donors and foundations, all students receive financial aid to pay for their education.
Dolores Mission Church responds to the spiritual, educational, physical, and emotional needs of the community. By listening to their needs, particularly through the Christian base communities and through grassroots organizing, they partner with outside agencies to allow Christ’s healing and transformation and to raise consciousness about larger issues of justice and peace. Community partners include Proyecto Pastoral, Promesa Boyle Heights, LA Voice, Loyola Law School, QueensCare, Los Angeles Christian Health Center, and Homeboy Industries, among many others.