NBC4 and Telemundo 52 are supporting six non-profit organizations in Southern California with “Project Innovation” grants totaling more than $300,000.
One of the programs being helped is Casa LA, which advocates for kids in the foster care system. The organization just named its first African American CEO.
Charity Chandler-Cole is the CEO of Casa LA and a woman on a mission.
“When people tell me I can't do something, or I can’t accomplish something... the dare is on to prove you wrong,” she said.
As the first African American CEO of Casa LA, the non-profit organization that advocates for kids in LA’s foster care system, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Chandler-Cole was once a foster kid herself, who ended up in juvenile hall for stealing food and clothing.
“Our value in that system was diminished, constantly being told we weren’t worth anything and wouldn’t grow up to be anything,” she said.
Chandler-Cole beat the odds, after giving birth to a son at age 18, she put herself through college and now heads the very organization that she struggled against as a teen.
“I wanted to prove to myself and my brothers and sisters in the foster care system that we are capable of great things.”
In LA County, there are more than 33,000 children in the foster care system. The number is up 25% since the start of the pandemic. Social workers are overwhelmed, so for the past 40 years, Casa LA has been helping out by training volunteers to work one on one with the kids to connect them with services, navigate court hearings, and act as a go-between with schools.
More than a quarter of the kids in LA’s foster care system are African American.
Some of Chandler-Cole’s top priorities at the helm of Casa LA is to recruit more minority volunteers and to show foster kids there’s hope.
“I want these little girls and boys who are going to see someone who looks like them in this position, so they can say, if Charity can do it... I can do it too.”
For more information on how you can volunteer, visit casala.org.