Blair Hamilton Taylor

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Name: Blair Hamilton Taylor
Hometown: Los Angeles
Title: President and CEO, Los Angeles Urban League

“My name is Blair Hamilton Taylor, and I believe community groups are best equipped to find solutions that empower students and improve community outcomes.”

Blair Taylor, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, says one of the most profound moments of his life came when taking a group of 35 students from LA’s Crenshaw High School to China.

“I saw the eyes and minds of these young people opening, most of whom had never been on a plane, many of whom had never been out of Los Angeles County,” said Taylor.  “Here they were in Beijing and Shanghai interfacing with the number one high school in all of China.  Their eyes opened wide, but you know what?  They also rose to the occasion and walked away saying ‘these kids in China, all these experiences we’ve had, and all these leaders we’ve met – nobody has anything on us if we go back and perform.’”

Taylor says teens learn best from experiences, and although it’s impossible to give every kid the chance to travel across the globe, it is possible to bring that method of teaching to America.  It can help teens realize their place in the world and inspire youth from low-income or troubled neighborhoods.

“We have not done a very good job of empowering those communities, either by empowering schools to determine what curriculum would be appropriate for the students they serve, or empowering a community to help police itself or look for ways to make that community safer,” said Taylor.

Part of the LAUL’s plan to engage the community from the bottom up is the Neighborhoods@Work model, which focuses on transforming urban areas one neighborhood at a time.

“We’ve lowered crime rates by 36 percent in the community because of efforts such as this, and working in tandem with LAPD,” said Taylor. “We’ve also worked with the local high school to engage parents and teachers in a way that would keep students more actively involved, and we’ve increased graduation rates by more than 50 percent in the last three years.”

“Having a community-based organization that’s on the ground leading the effort as opposed to someone who parachutes in from outside the community, I think is a big part of what 21st century urban solutions need to look like,” said Taylor.

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