About Us

Public Works (PW) is a 501c(3) corporation founded in 1998 and headquartered in Pasadena. PW is dedicated to working with schools, government, parents and communities by providing services and resources to educate and inform children, youth and families. Since it began, PW has established itself as a leading research firm in the areas of public education and school improvement, career technical and workforce development, and social services and support programs. PW works with many local, state and national clients to evaluate program implementation, ensure accountability, and use data to improve program delivery. We see our role as researchers influencing policy—bridging policy and practice.

As our work has evolved, PW identified a glaring need to help parents and students navigate the education system in our community. We observed a wide communication gap between schools and families, especially for children having difficulty in school. Many parents did not know how or what to advocate for their children in terms of improving their educational success. Community Works and the other programs it supports were started to apply what we had learned about schools to help parents and students. We provide tutoring, homework assistance, intervention and enrichment classes for K-12th grade students. We see our role as education coaches, tutors and mentors.

As our work in the community deepened, we began to connect with the poorest, most disengaged youth in Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD)—dropouts. We tried to enroll them back in school but it was very difficult. The reasons for the difficulty were many—too far behind in credits, trying to re-enroll mid-semester, student work schedules, girls with babies and no child care, students “aged-out” at 18 years old, discipline records, and more. We started a dropout recovery program at our office that was administered by PUSD. In 2008, we realized the existing system just did not know how to re-engage, welcome or serve dropouts so we started Learning Works, a charter school where the dropout is the customer. We see our role as advocates for the poor and disengaged with one goal—all youth deserve a high school diploma.