Our History

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Lake Avenue Community Foundation (LACF) is Founded
Since it’s incorporation as a nonprofit on March 1, 2001, LACF has been dedicated to providing a wide variety of programs for youth and families from vulnerable communities in Pasadena. LACF will change names to Stars nearly 20 years later.

The after-school program for elementary students predates LACF when it began in 1996 by Jill Shook and a group of community members. It was put under the auspices of LACF so that it could expand and develop. LACF expanded the after-school program that first year through a grant from the James Irvine Foundation and in partnership with CORAL (Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning).

From its inception, LACF also had a Homeless Outreach Program that cared for people through providing for them spiritually and physically.


Adopt-A-School Begins
We expand our reach into the community by partnering with churches and schools to Adopt-A-School. We facilitate Lake Avenue Church to adopt Blair High School to bring volunteers and resources to the schools our students attended.


Mentoring Starts
Since the inception of our Mentoring program, 100% of the students who have participated have graduated from high school or earned an equivalent. More than 80% have gone on to attend a community college or four-year university.


LACF Begins Supporting College Students
We saw that our students needed support to connect with resources to prepare them for college and while attending college. We brought an intern on to help students identify scholarships. We then put volunteer college coaches in place to help our students navigate the higher education system.


Teen MOPS Launched
The Teen MOPS (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers) component of Mentoring begins by a group of volunteers led by Nancy Stiles to respond to the significant increase in teen pregnancy in the community.


Youth Violence Intervention Added to Mentoring Program
The Youth Violence Intervention component to Mentoring responds to a significant uptick in gang violence in Pasadena. This work was done in partnership with The Flintridge Foundation who later ultimately took over the work in 2012.


Mentoring Program Hires Mentor Coaches to Support Mentors
We hire mentor coaches who focus on supporting mentors through the mentor journey. This leads to a significant growth in the Mentoring program, making it possible for more kids to be mentored.


Middle and High School Added to the After-School Program
Before 2009, elementary students who aged out of our after-school program were funneled into a mentoring relationship. This relationship would support them through their teen years.

In 2009, LACF made a big move to expand their after-school program to include middle and high school.

Simultaneously, our Adopt-A-School program grew to 14 church and school partnerships in Pasadena.



Summer SKILLZ Launched
The Summer SKILLZ Credit Reclamation program serves more than 100 high school students. We do this in collaboration with Pasadena Unified School District, Flintridge Center, and other Pasadena-area organizations.

Summer SKILLZ now includes incoming middle school students who are behind in reading in addition to high school students.



Elementary Redesigns and Adds Family Engagement Specialist
We completed an extensive strategic plan, which includes redesigning the Elementary program and creating a Family Engagement position to support parents. 

The new elementary after-school program gets implemented and Family Engagement Specialist joins our team in 2012.



North Stars After-School Site Opens
We open a second elementary site called North Stars in partnership with Because You Matter (a non-profit started by Montrose Church).

We divide middle school and high school into two distinct programs to meet each age group’s needs. Our High School program focuses on college readiness.



College Success Program Launches
LACF hires Amy Cardenas, our first staff member, to oversee our College Success Program since we began supporting college students in 2004.



Director of Partnership and Collaborations is Created
At this time Eric Johnson, the Middle and High School Manager, was involved in partnering with the Clergy Community Coalition and Pasadena Unified School District among others, in order to advocate for students and families. But a broader impact was needed to get more done and serve more families with less money. Stars decides to formalize their commitment to go deeper together with new and existing community partners by making Eric the Director of Partnerships and Collaborations.


Stars Logo Transition Graphic


Lake Avenue Community Foundation becomes Stars
Our name change was a result of LACF being confused with Lake Avenue Church in the Pasadena community, as well we recognized that our scope of work had expanded beyond Pasadena.

This led LACF to intentionally listen to our community for what our new name should be, and ultimately it became Stars.



Wellness Program Started in Response to COVID-19

The Wellness program becomes a full wrap-around support that includes counseling, mindfulness, physical fitness, spiritual direction as well as fresh produce and grocery distribution.