Alisha Ruiz: “I fight for my life each and every day”



Alisha Ruiz's troubles began in school and escalated from there; she landed in prison before she was 20. Honest and hopeful, the now 21-year-old Ruiz says she’s turning her life around with support from Homegirl Café, an affiliate of Homeboy Industries Inc., a Los Angeles nonprofit helping former gang members reconstruct their lives.

• Ruiz, in her own words: AUDIO SLIDESHOW

• Find out more about Homeboy Industries

Greenlight: The Business of South Los Angeles

Nonprofit helping LA’s neediest
finds it, too, needs assistance


Amid the most profound and startling economic downturn in recent memory, one South Los Angeles business is seeing more clients than ever. But those clients are job seekers, and it's harder than ever to help them. VIDEO

Wine bar brings new feel to South L.A.


With two SC alums at the helm, Bacaro L.A. is drawing crowds with its Italian-style tapas, esoteric wines, and an unexpected atmosphere in the south-of-downtown district.

Serving up mind, body
and soul food in South L.A.


Restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian versions of the traditional soul food central to black culinary culture in an attempt to provide affordable and healthy eating options to a community plagued with various food-related health issues.

Local furniture store copes
with the economic slowdown


A longtime fixture in South Los Angeles survived both L.A. riots. Now it's feeling the pinch of a slower economy, but its owners aren't giving up.


Education and Society

New career training options
unfold in South L.A. schools


South L.A. high schools increasingly offer students career and technical courses, combining job training and rigorous academics to give them the option of either moving to the workplace or going to college. South L.A. school officials also hope the programs will help reduce the dropout rate.

Plus: A Q&A with LAUSD's Career and Technical Education director

Parents say hardship is relative
but their children aren’t so sure


Pursuing the 'American Dream' produces hard realities for immigrant families in the United States, but whether it's harder on the children or the parents depends on who you ask. AUDIO SLIDESHOW

Plus: Education analyst Anthony J. Colón discusses school choice and education reform


School Reform

44 years after LBJ's sweeping education reforms, problems persist


Lyndon B. Johnson

Promising a new level of government involvement in education and the eradication of poverty in America, President Lyndon B. Johnson oversaw the largest expansion of government since the New Deal. But while the heart of his new legislation was in the right place, it failed to create a foundation suitable for coping with the multi-faceted challenges facing educators today.

Saving U.S. urban schools
takes on greater urgency


After watching urban schools slide deeper into academic bankruptcy, communities across the country are crying for reform. Enter the nonprofit, U.S. schools’ latest white knight. We look at their efforts in Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston to determine how they’re doing and what lessons they offer in the campaign to improve the nation’s schools. AUDIO SLIDESHOW