Students Take the Lead in Workday at Jane Addams Middle School

On May 2, nearly 3,000 volunteers turned out at sites across the Greater Los Angeles area to bring about positive change by providing renovations and improvements to 38 schools, community centers, and neighborhoods. At one school in particular, Jane Addams Middle School (JAMS), students took the lead to coordinate their Workday site, from pitching the project, to raising funds, to facilitating the work on May 2.

Under the guidance of their language arts teacher, David Navarro, 26 students wrote business letters and presented their project proposal to representatives from Lawndale Unified School District, Sharefest and King’s Harbor Church. In addition to their efforts for bringing positive change to their school, these assignments allowed them to apply writing and presentation skills, putting their learning into action and practicing key life skills.

“My goal is to teach my students how to have a goal, develop a plan, and execute their plan using many of the skills they have learned at school,” said Navarro."They have written descriptive paragraphs about the various proposed projects, written business letters, created presentations using Google Slides, and presented to a group of adults. The commitment, enthusiasm, and professionalism of my students have been very exciting and encouraging!”

The students’ letters brought in support from local community businesses, including:

  • More than $600 in donations from King’s Harbor Church
  • $1,500 in donations from Jane Addams ASB
  • $400 for plants from Sharefest
  • Coffee for Workday volunteers from Starbucks in Lawndale
  • Lunch for volunteers from Chick-fil-A in Hawthorne
  • Snacks for volunteers from CostCo in Hawthorne
  • 20-gallons of paint from Dunn-Edwards Paints in Lawndale
  • Garden soil, mulch, a planter box, and landscape fabric from Lowes in Hawthorne
  • Mulch from Travers Tree Service in Lomita

The also pooled together 250 volunteers from several organizations, in addition to JAMS students, staff, and families. Volunteers participated from King’s Harbor Church, South Bay Church of God, Girl Scouts, Undivided, LA25 Foundation of the Arts, and The Olson Duncan Agency.

As a result of their efforts, numerous projects were completed at the school, including painting at the entrance, student store, and several other key areas; cleaning in the preschool classroom, computer room, and more; weeding and planting throughout the school; and creating a vegetable garden for the preschool students.

“This was a huge undertaking that took many months to organize. I am really proud of my students for their commitment and hard work. They are an inspiration to me,” said Navarro.


Record-setting Golf Tournament

The sky was clear and the weather beautiful as 160 golfers headed onto the course for the third annual Balfour Beatty Construction/Sharefest Golf Tournament on April 17 at the Skylinks Golf Course in Long Beach. The team at BBC, along with their sponsors, surpassed the amount raised last year and brought in a record $100,050 to support the 2015 Sharefest Workday.

“Balfour Beatty Construction models what it means to give back to the communities they work in,” said Chad Mayer, executive director of Sharefest. “We are thrilled to partner with them again this year for Workday, and their generous support and strong volunteer workforce will positively impact learning through revitalized facilities at these schools.”

Funds from this year’s tournament will support revitalization and beautification projects at local schools in Culver City, Redondo Beach, Torrance, and Wiseburn, including Alta Vista Elementary School, Birney Elementary School, Culver City Middle School, Da Vinci Innovation Academy, Lincoln School, TUSD District Offices and more. Any remaining funds will be directed toward Sharefest’s Youth Development Academy to further support education.

“We are elated to host the Balfour Beatty Construction Golf Outing for the third year in row,” said John Bernardy, senior vice president, Balfour Beatty Construction - Los Angeles/Orange County. “I couldn’t be more proud of the construction community that came together in such a big way by raising even more money than last year. The effort is a true testament of our employees’, sponsors’, contractors’, consultants’, and vendors’ commitment of beautifying and improving the schools and neighborhoods where we all work.”

Additionally, Ben King at BBC personally raised more than $83,000 in in-kind donations for projects that will be completed in the Torrance Unified School District. Ben’s passion for service is infectious. He desires for everyone to understand the joy of serving others, and leads his project sites with enthusiasm. “Last year, after my Sharefest projects ended and everyone had gone, to see the completed project left a feeling of pure happiness inside my heart. It felt so good to see that the hard work had paid off,” said King.

About 300 BBC employees will volunteer at this year’s Workday to see these projects through to completion. It’s sure to be another incredible year of community change as a result of their contributions.

Watch a recap of this year’s golf tournament and view the photos:



About Balfour Beatty Construction US:

An industry leader for more than 80 years, Balfour Beatty Construction US provides general contracting, at-risk construction management, and design-build services for a wide variety of markets, serving clients in both the public and private sectors. The company is the U.S. subsidiary of London-based Balfour Beatty plc (LSE: BBY), a leading international infrastructure group that finances, develops, builds and maintains complex building programs focused on social and commercial buildings, power and utility systems, and transportation. Consistently ranked among the nation’s largest building contractors, Balfour Beatty Construction Services US has been cited as a Top 10 Domestic Building Contractor and Top 10 Green Builder by Engineering News-Record. To learn more, visit








Committed to Community Collaboration

Eleven years ago as Sharefest was establishing its mission and vision, Cornerstone Construction Group, Inc. came alongside to help support a significant community project. Through their resources and volunteers, Cornerstone provided the essential coordination and construction management for the Morrell House restoration project in Redondo Beach.

Now, in 2014, this mission-oriented company led by Vic and Linda Braden continues to walk alongside Sharefest and support its people and programs, including a generous $25,000 sponsorship at the recent fundraiser dinner.

“Vic and Linda and the team at Cornerstone have played a significant part in many of our projects over the years,” said Sharefest Executive Director Chad Mayer. “We share a passion to see our communities thrive, and I am so grateful for their continued partnership and support.”

Sharefest’s focus on community collaboration is one of the features that first inspired Cornerstone to get involved. “Cornerstone’s mission is to honor God through service. In construction, we work to help clarify a vision, find an attainable solution, and manage the process to realize that vision. By partnering with Sharefest, we can help achieve their goals by constructing or improving parks, schools, community centers, and community gardens,” said Linda. “My favorite was the Harbor Gateway/Cheryl Green Center. This was a community that had no open space or parks for the kids; they were in constant fear of gang violence. We helped take a dead-end street and turn it into a place for kids to enjoy.”

In addition to service projects, Vic and Linda strongly support the youth development programs and Sharefest’s efforts to help underserved youth see their potential as future leaders. “There is still so much to do, and there’s a great need in the community for the service that Sharefest provides,” said Linda. “Cornerstone plans on continuing our partnership with Sharefest because our service missions are so closely aligned. We look forward to seeing many more young lives touched and changed toward a brighter future.”


Year-Round Youth Development Academy Expands to Watts

Sharefest is pleased to announce a third site for the year-round Youth Development Academy program—Simon Rodia Continuation School in Watts. Beginning in January, Sharefest will offer after-school programming at Simon Rodia with a goal of increasing retention and graduation rates, as well as improving test scores.

Currently, students at Simon Rodia are heavily impacted by crime, violence, poverty, and lack of economic opportunity in Watts. This, combined with minimal supplemental program options and a lack of resources and support, not to mention the lowest attendance rate among all 54 Educational Option schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, creates a significant challenge for administrators and teachers as they try to break the cycle and make a difference in these students lives. Principal Gina Awtry is determined to change that, beginning with partnering with Sharefest to provide additional opportunities for students through the Youth Development Academy.

“[The YDA program] has blossomed into an exceptional model of proven success that has assisted hundred of at-risk teens in meeting requirements to earn a high school diploma,” said Awtry, referring to the existing year-round YDA programs at Avalon Continuation High School in Wilmington, and Patton High School in Harbor City. “But just as important, the Sharefest staff has provided mentoring through their volunteers to help students establish relationships, build trust and resiliency, and to persevere, all important life skills that will hopefully be payed forward as our students enter adulthood and become productive citizens.”

The expansion of the YDA program is possible thanks to our partners, who generously donate to help Sharefest provide this essential programming at continuation schools like Simon Rodia, which meet an important need in education by fostering a small-school learning environment for students who have fallen behind or don’t fit into a traditional learning environment. These schools typically run on fewer resources and program options, and seek creative ways—like the Youth Development Academy—to help students meet graduation requirements.

“These youth are our future, and we are thrilled to partner with Simon Rodia to assist in preparing their students to be successful in school and in life,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “This program joins our existing programs at Avalon Continuation and Patton high schools, where we have already seen tremendous results in improved attendance and test scores as a result of the YDA program.”

“I know Sharefest can and will make a significant impact in my students’ lives; attendance will improve, relationships will form, and academic success will be achieved,” said Awtry.


Modeling Leadership Through Service at the Toberman Neighborhood Center

During this summer’s Youth Development Academy, students learned about leadership through service and turned that learning into action during two service days at the Toberman Neighborhood Center. This center provides opportunities and services to help encourage, inform, educate, and empower Harbor-area families and individuals. More than 200 YDA students helped beautify the campus over the course of two service days. From cleaning rooms and sorting donated books to painting benches, tables, and wall murals, the students worked hard and gained an appreciation for giving back to their communities.

“I learned that by just giving back to your community you can change a person’s life.”

– Stephanie, YDA student

“We are so thrilled for the support! The murals are fantastic, the campus is sparkling, and we are on Cloud 9!”

– Carter Calhoun, Director of Development, Toberman Neighborhood Center

A special thanks to community artists PeQue, Rondell Puckett, Patrick Q. "Sequel" Brown, Kelsey "True" Milliner, and Alexis "Princess" Evangelista Griffen for designing the beautiful murals and guiding students in the painting process.

View photos of the work completed below!





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