Community Voices
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San Pedro schools need our help.

Many know that funding for vocational training, creative arts programs, and other essential courses has diminished (or been canceled altogether). The San Pedro Education Foundation aims to fix this and many other issues facing our local schools.

The San Pedro Education Foundation (SPEF) is a 501c3 nonprofit founded by Ricky Magana, a San Pedro business owner and former San Pedro Today fitness columnist. Its mission is to enrich the student experience in San Pedro schools. The board of directors is comprised of local leaders and educators who care about San Pedro. (Full disclosure: I’m a board member.) The foundation accomplishes this in three ways.

First, it can expand the programming, facilities, and access to teachers and curricula that do not already exist in our schools. Creating well-rounded children means exposing them to experiences and activities that feed their minds, help them problem solve, and engage them in creative ways that broaden how they see the world and their potential. 

I grew up with home economics, wood shop, and art class, things not readily found in our schools. These classes helped me with basic life skills, cooking, financial literacy, and balancing a checkbook, as well as giving me the confidence to try new things. Physical education, dance, and drama classes help kids move with confidence and coordination. The SPEF could help return these teachers and programs to the classroom.

The second piece is to enhance what’s already working and make it even better. The San Pedro Community of Schools has several programs that could use better funding and access to corporate sponsors who want to invest in our schools. With new and ever-changing industries taking root in the Harbor Area, companies are looking to help train the future workforce we will depend on for generations to come. 

We can ensure our town’s place in history by connecting future leaders, business owners, and world changers born and raised here in San Pedro with the tools and resources to help them reach their full potential.

Lastly, how do we elevate our schools? Barton Hill Elementary has a parking lot for a playground. The San Pedro Education Foundation is providing $70,000 to give kids a grass field. Point Fermin Elementary needs a Peace Garden where kids can chill out if they’re having a stressful day or just need a time out. San Pedro High School could use additional funding for auto mechanics and training in the trades. 

Most people don’t realize that all tax revenues are centralized in Sacramento and allocated to school districts statewide using a needs-oriented formula. This results in poorer districts having an even footing with LAUSD, but it leaves us well below the funding we need locally to provide the education we expect for our kids here in San Pedro. 

The way we raise the bar is to provide funds that are restricted to local use and benefit the projects and programs we value the most. Palos Verdes, Culver City, Westchester, and Santa Monica also have local education foundations that help increase the quality of education their schools provide.

There are around 11,500 kids in San Pedro’s 20 schools. By raising $100 per student per year and deploying these funds to meaningful projects, additional teachers, and capital improvements for our campuses, we can make a real difference in our approach to local education. 

Our goal is $1 million annually. SPEF is not a Booster’s Club, PTO, Boys & Girls Club, or scholarship. Funds also won’t be used for school supplies, dances, or activities already being funded. The goal of SPEF is to fund ideas and needs that traditional routes cannot.

How will we know we’ve succeeded? When people start moving to San Pedro because of the great schools. When San Pedro schools offer an educational experience others try to copy. When our “born and raised” San Pedrans become the leaders of the future and remain here in town to give back. 

If you have ideas about projects, fundraising activities, or want to donate, please visit spt

Lee Williams

Lee Williams leads The Lee Williams Real Estate Group at REAL Broker and is a Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner. He also serves on the board of directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Connects, and the San Pedro Education Foundation. He can be reached at