Watts Community Studio: Full Report

During the summer of 2013, under the direction of Councilman Buscaino's Planning Director Alison Becker, the 15th Council District office created the Watts Community Studio, a participatory economic development and planning project aimed at learning more about Watts from the people who live and/or own businesses in the community.

Councilman Buscaino believes that involving residents in the decision-making process for their neighborhood will help produce programs, projects and policies that will successfully improve their quality of life. 

The Watts Community Studio’s final report offers recommendations for supporting residents and businesses in Watts as they build towards the future. A major component of the research was obtaining approximately 750 surveys from the neighborhood and including the young people of Watts in the research process. The results of the survey and various other analyses are included in the Full Report 


Los Angeles Developer Rick Caruso Donates $5 Million to Operation Progress



Recognizing the needs of one of L.A.’s most vibrant yet challenged neighborhoods, and embracing the belief that education is the foundation for lifelong success, Rick and Tina Caruso of the Caruso Family Foundation today announced $5 million initiative to provide assistance to more than 200 at-risk youth in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Participating students will receive elementary, high school and college scholarship assistance together with after-school academic tutoring and weekend mentoring services.

The initiative will be coordinated through Operation Progress (www.OperationProgressLA.org), a nonprofit program established in 2000 by a group of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers in the Southeast Division who fight gang crime in South Los Angeles, specifically the community of Watts. Deeply moved by young students who worked hard to earn good grades and stay out of gangs, but who lacked financial opportunity, they sought to raise funds and assist these underprivileged youth. Since then Operation Progress has expanded to serve well-deserving inner-city youth across Los Angeles.

Operation Progress consists of an “ecosystem” of partners working in concert to provide a comprehensive support system for at-risk youth. Anchor schools include St. Lawrence of Brindisi, St. Mary’s Academy and Verbum Dei High School. After-school success programs include those administered by Operation Progress and Strive Los Angeles. In addition, Helping Young People Excel (HYPE) will provide gifted students with academic preparation, admissions, and financial aid assistance to attend one of L.A.’s elite private schools. Finally, all scholars will be eligible for the South Central Scholars (SCS) program that supports college-bound students with academic preparation, mentoring, and financial assistance through all four years of college. The Caruso Family Foundation is providing support to Operation Progress and each of the partner organizations.

The initiative’s goal is to support at least 200 students over the next decade, with partners working to guide scholars all the way through college graduation. Beyond academic success, the program’s “10 Pillars of Success” is aimed at developing well-rounded young men and women that will return to South Los Angeles, contribute to success of future scholars, and help strengthen our entire city.

Any Watts-area student may apply to become an Operation Progress scholar by visiting the website or by picking up an application at a participating school. Once accepted, students and parents sign a pledge to abide by the program’s standards. Depending on age and gender, students will be placed in a participating partner school, during which time they will also receive significant after-school and weekend mentoring and tutoring support from the partners. All scholars will be eligible for the South Central Scholars college program to ensure their academic and personal success in completing a four-year college education.

“Operation Progress was born in Watts, a historic neighborhood in South Los Angeles which was its own city before becoming part of Los Angeles just 87 years ago. This $5 million initiative will provide strong support for this program with a proven record of putting kids on the right track, helping them avoid gangs and violence, and giving them an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and gain a college education that’s increasingly critical for success,” said Rick J. Caruso, CEO of Caruso Affiliated and founder of the Caruso Family Foundation, who saw the birth of Operation Progress a dozen years ago while serving as former president of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. 


Councilman Joe Buscaino Inauguration in Watts


Because 2013 has been proclaimed the Year of Italian Culture in the United States, I felt it would be fitting that I be sworn in for my first full term at the home of these iconic towers.

This landmark was built by Simon Rodia, an Italian immigrant, who spent 33 years of his life committed to this project — which has become the cultural mecca and a centerpiece of pride in this community. Born to Italian immigrants, I, too, am inspired by Simon Rodia, to build something in this community that will benefit generations to come.

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Watts Community Studio



The Watts Community Studio is a 12-week summer research and community engagement project being supported by Los Angeles City Council District 15. The Watts Community Studio’s collaborative engagement model seeks to optimize community development, revitalization, and economic development efforts and ultimately enable the City and the community to track the physical and social changes taking place in Watts.

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Watts resident and president of the East Side Riders Bike Club, John Jones III, honored by the Multicultural Communities for Mobility


Councilman Buscaino would like to recognize Watts resident and President of the East Side Riders, John Jones III, who was recently honored at the Multicultural Communities for Mobility’s (MCM) third annual awards dinner and ceremony.

The East Side Riders Bike Club (ESR) is an all-volunteer, grassroots bicycle club founded in 2008 with the purpose of preventing youth from joining gangs and taking drugs, and engaging youth who have a desire to enrich the community through recreational activities, specifically focusing on bicycle riding. The club introduces kids to bike safety, healthy eating and active living, the importance of giving back to the community, and hosting riding events.

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Councilmembers Buscaino, Garcetti Donate Computers to Families at Jordan Downs


Los Angeles City Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and Eric Garcetti donated computers to families living at Jordan Downs in Watts today.  The families who received computers participated in technology training classes through Kids Progress Inc., a non-profit organization established by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) to provide crucial social, educational, and health care services to children living in HACLA projects.  The computer donation was made possible through a City Council motion authored by Buscaino and seconded by Garcetti.

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Councilman Buscaino helps launch AEG’s 2000 Acts of Hope, talks to LL Cool J, Luc Robitaille and Tim Leiweke


AEG, owner of Staples Center, LA Live and the Los Angeles Kings, kicked off their 2000 Acts of Hope campaign at Figueroa Elementary School in Watts on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.  “2000” is an approximation of the number of days it will take to open Farmer’s Field in Downtown Los Angeles and is the number of good deeds the organization will accomplish in the next 2000 days.  In Watts, 100 AEG employees worked on three projects at the school site including a gardening project, painting, and work inside their computer lab.

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