The theme of our upcoming 5th Annual Champions for Families event on September 15th is "An Evening of Creativity." In addition to honoring our awardees a number of our youth who are participants in El Nido Programs will be displaying their remarkable talents through creative artwork and theatrical and musical performances. The evening events will reflect the strength, resilience and commitment of our staff, Board of Directors, supporters, and clients who have demonstrated their determination to overcome the challenges we are facing during these extraordinarily difficult times.
Like many non-profits, El Nido has experienced substantial cuts as a result of the State budget crisis. The most significant was the statewide suspension of the Cal Learn program, El Nido's largest program. Cal Learn, implemented in 1975 by then Gov. Pete Wilson as a cost savings measure to counter the rising costs associated with teen pregnancy, provided comprehensive case management services for low-income teen parents. El Nido, as the largest provider of Cal Learn services in the State, played a significant role in helping teen parents deliver healthy babies, stay in school, learn effective loving parenting skills and preventing a second pregnancy in adolescence. Certainly Cal Learn and other similar programs throughout the State and the nation have been a factor in the declining teen pregnancy rate. For El Nido, the elimination of Cal Learn has meant the termination of critical services for over 1,600 low-income teen parents and their babies.
The reality of this vulnerable population being left without support was unconscionable. In response to this devastating news, El Nido and partner agencies appealed to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and First 5 LA for support to maintain services for the most at risk teen parents and babies. Thankfully they responded. With First 5 LA's funding, vital services will continue this year for over 600 of El Nido's most at risk teen parents and babies. We are extremely grateful for their support and are proud of the quality of the Cal Learn services we have provided for over 16 years. It is because of our quality services that First 5 LA and a number of other organizations and foundations have responded generously to the needs of our Cal Learn teens including, The California Wellness Foundation and The Eisner Foundation.
The strength of an organization, I believe, is really measured by how it responds to challenges. Our answer to these funding cuts has been both realistic and proactive. On the realistic side we had to cut operations; consolidate space, lay off some valuable staff, reduce some salaries and leave some communities and programs we had had long term commitments with and strong attachments to, specifically Carson and Santa Monica. All of these decisions were difficult. On the proactive side we have not only reached out to our ongoing supporters, but have developed new partnerships that have helped us leverage our resources and have also increased our volunteer base. We are also exploring social enterprise opportunities to increase our revenue base/self sufficiency and cost effective self help service delivery modalities.
In the past months we have clearly demonstrated the sustained strong foundation that for 86 years has enabled El Nido to not only meet its financial obligations, but has also allowed us to continue to offer the wide range of programs that addresses the diverse needs of the communities we serve. As we look towards the future, we do so with the knowledge that the populations we serve (low-income women and children), are suffering most by the economic downturn. Therefore, it is critical that El Nido continues to be a source of hope, guidance and resources to help youth increase their academic performance, (prevent school drop-out), to improve family functioning and to prevent delinquency and gang involvement. Developing our capacity in the areas of academic enrichment, workforce development and asset building are strategies we are embracing to help our youth and families achieve these goals. We have a number of caring committed individuals, foundations and corporation who have joined us in our efforts. We thank them and invite you to join us. Please consider attending our upcoming Champions events, volunteering, or just visiting our website to learn more about our services.