Charity & Grassroots in Downtown Los Angeles

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If you've ever stood on the second floor of the Los Angeles Central Public Library and marveled at the explosion of color within the rotunda or the 12 adjacent murals depicting California history, then you have the Los Angeles Conservancy to thank. When the library was scheduled for demolition in the mid-1970s, concerned citizens formed the Conservancy to save the rotunda, the exterior limestone sculptures, and the library's many other architectural treasures. The group finally convinced the City Council to preserve the library in 1983, after years of public discussion, debate, and book-sniffing sit-ins. Ever since, it has advocated for greater Los Angeles's historic sites and educated people about the city's architectural heritage. The Conservancy is responsible for saving and revitalizing landmarks such as the former Cathedral of St. Vibiana, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, and the world’s oldest remaining McDonald’s restaurant.

To accomplish its mission, the membership-based nonprofit offers a number of ways people can experience these beautiful and storied places. The Last Remaining Seats series earned a Reader Recommendation for Best Film Series and Best Downtown Event in the Los Angeles Downtown News' 2012 poll, in which the conservancy’s walking tours also earned the title of Best Downtown Tour. But the organization does more than save grandiose public buildings: increasingly, it also focuses on smaller community projects such as garden apartments and sites that reflect the area's rich Latino culture.

Executive director and 20-year Conservancy veteran Linda Dishman explained to Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times, "People are becoming more vocal. …That's one of the great secrets about Los Angeles: People really identify with their neighborhoods." The Conservancy also presents annual preservation awards to honor the efforts of individuals who fight to save places such as Pann’s Coffee Shop and Griffith Observatory.

523 West 6th Street
Los Angeles,
CA
US

Los Angeles Public Library

More than six million books, audiobooks, periodicals, CDs, and DVDs line the shelves of the Los Angeles Public Library. But that’s a mere snapshot of the educational treasure-trove housed within its walls. 80,000-plus photos capture the past, including different stages of southern Californian history; more than 100,000 maps outline myriad landscapes; and 1,700 autographs—collected by a former LAPL city librarian—document the signatures, doodles, and Tweets of celebrities in the early 20th century. Though guests need an appointment to view the Lummis Autograph Collection, viewings are free, just like everything else at the library. That includes events and classes, that cover topics ranging from genealogy research to creative movement for kids. And a number of rotating exhibits also educate the public through various mediums with past features including a collection of vintage film posters and a photographic exhibition documenting the 1932 Olympics, held in Los Angeles.

630 W 5th St
Los Angeles,
CA
US

Upon hearing that Los Angeles public schools' arts budgets were going to be cut, a group of screenwriters founded Young Storytellers Foundation (YSF) to share the joy that writing brought to their lives with local students. YSF teaches youth about the art of storytelling through group exercises and one-on-one mentoring that helps develop literacy and leadership skills. Mentors work with about 700 students in 35 schools on the west coast, but have begun expanding their programs into New York. The youth can explore their personal goals and conflicts through the written word and learn how to translate that into a screenplay format. They then write their own scripts and see them come to life on stage or screen, with performances by professional actors.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

923 E 3rd St
Los Angeles,
CA
US

Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) aims to make high-quality preschool education accessible to all children in Los Angeles. LAUP supports more than 320 preschools across the county with grants used to cover the costs of student tuition and supplement teachers' salaries and educational materials. In addition to monetary support, LAUP's early-childhood educators work in classrooms to assist teachers in enhancing program quality and to ensure that preschools are engaging parents to be their children's primary teachers. These specialists also work with preschools on specific developmental needs of children and their families, such as obesity prevention and children with special needs.

888 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles,
CA
US

Thrown by the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, Taste of Italy immerses Italian aficionados in an afternoon of delicious Italian cuisine and rollicking entertainment. More than 50 restaurants and wineries ply their toothsome wares, letting festival-goers indulge their oenophilia with piquant pours or tear into delectable pasta drizzled with delicate sauces. While filling tummies and furtively filling purse-hidden tupperware, guests can take in shows by Casa Italiana Opera Company, Italian reggae chanteuse Mama Marjas, commedia dell'arte troupe I Zanni, and honey-voiced crooner Luca Ellis. VIP ticket holders jump ahead of lines with exclusive entry, sipping on gourmet cocktails while savoring the prospect of using their culinary gift bags to impress dinner guests or taunt dinner hostages.

125 Paseo De La Plz
Los Angeles,
CA
US

Because they believe books should be available to everyone, Ready, Set, Read! hosts parent education programs and classroom lending libraries to get children reading at home. During bilingual workshops, parents can learn techniques such as the dialogic method, which uses open-ended questions and discussions to engage children in content, making reading aloud fun for young children at home. The program focuses on demonstrating how influential the parents’ role is in developing literacy skills and self-confidence. Since 2000, volunteers and educators with Ready, Set, Read! have built more than 160 classroom lending libraries, taught more than 27,000 local parents to read with their children on a regular basis, and distributed as many books to those families.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1000 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles,
CA
US