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Meet Diana Pinto of South Central LAMP in South Central Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana Pinto.

Diana, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
South Central Los Angeles Ministry Project (South Central LAMP) is 501(c) (3) organization founded by eight congregations of Catholic women religious, who canvassed South Los Angeles in the wake of the 1992 riots to see how they could support the devastated neighborhood as it struggled to rebuild. What they found was a large community of immigrant mothers who didn’t understand the public school system or how to support their children’s educational development. With the aid of almost an entire volunteer staff, South Central LAMP opened its doors to assist these women in their desire for a better future and in helping their children succeed. Since its founding, it has reached out and served families without reference to religion or background.

More than two decades later we remain committed to advancing the lives of children and families in South Los Angeles, an area that continues to face extreme socio-economic distress. Our community has some of the highest households living in poverty and some of the lowest performing schools. It is our core belief that if we educate and empower women and families, they and the community will grow and benefit.

Based on research that shows the importance of early childhood education and parental involvement in their child’s schooling, South Central LAMP’s Family Literacy Program prepares children for kindergarten while helping their mothers gain language, parenting, and advocacy skills. We believe that by investing in mothers, building their confidence, awareness, and skills they will be better advocates and teachers for their children. Simply stated, strong mothers foster strong children. Our program has parallels to a “mommy and me” program, with a focus on literacy skills and the empowerment of women.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The Family Literacy Program has an excellent record of outcomes. Not surprisingly, we regularly hear from local teachers and principals that children in the program go on to perform better in elementary school than their peers who did not attend the program while their parents continue to be involved in their child’s schooling by volunteering and advocating for their child.

However, since we are a nonprofit agency providing programs absolutely free of charge, achieving a stable financial footing and meeting our annual budget has always been a challenge. Our focus is to work with donors, foundations and financial partners who believe in the families we serve and the work we do. Our biggest challenges have always been ensuring our mission advances while providing free, quality programs.

Please tell us about South Central LAMP.
Our mission is to provide a supportive, nurturing environment for economically poor women and their families by offering educational programs that empower women and their families to reach their full potential, build self-esteem, and strengthen mutual interdependent relations.

What makes us unique is our focus on mothers, while many programs focus on children alone, we believe that by investing in mothers, building their confidence, awareness and personal and parenting skills they will be better advocates and teachers for their children. In other words, strong mothers foster strong children. As noted above, our program has parallels to a traditional “mommy and me” program, with a focus on literacy skills and the empowerment of women.

We do this by providing a holistic approach to our programs, which includes:

• Early Childhood Education (ECE) – Children ages 0-5 attend a daily, hands-on learning program based on the developmentally appropriate practices of The Creative Curriculum, a rigorously tested educational and assessment program that has been refined over the past 20 years and validated through several research studies.
• Parenting Education – Our parenting classes focus on strengthening the self-reliance and self-confidence of mothers, stabilizing and strengthening the parent-child relationship, and ensuring that their preschool children are ready for kindergarten.
• English as a Second Language (ESL) – Our three levels of ESL classes focus on equipping parents with the language proficiency necessary to participate fully in society and to support and advocate for their children.
• Parent-Child Interactive Literacy Activities (PCILA) – PCILA brings together the children and mothers participating in our ECE and parenting classes. Guided by early childhood educators, mothers learn strategies for developing their family’s literacy skills.
• Family Advocacy – Family Advocates meet one-on-one with families, including home and office visits, to help them develop goals and learn about community resources.

The program operates 5 days/week from September – June and in the summer, we offer a day camp that is family based and provides learning experiences many of our community cannot access, such as field trips to Griffith Observatory, Theatre West, and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

Contact Info:

  • Address: South Central LAMP
    892 E. 48th
    Los Angeles CA 90011
  • Website:
  • Phone: 323-234-1471
  • Email:
  • Instagram: southcentrallamp
  • Facebook: South Cental LAMP

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