Our Mission & History
The Gabriella Foundation was established by Liza Bercovici in 1999 in memory of her daughter, Gabriella Axelrad, a 13-year-old who loved to dance. When deciding where to begin, TGF noticed a lack of safe recreational spaces and arts education in Los Angeles, as well as raising childhood obesity levels in those very same areas. This correlation revealed a clear need for youth in underserved communities to have an encouraging place to express themselves in an empowering way without the burdens of their every day worries.
Our signature program, everybody dance! opened its doors in 2000 in an affordable housing project with 12 weekly dance classes taught to 35 enthusiastic children experiencing dance instruction for the first time in their lives. Learning of the after-school program, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, a local charter school, collaborated with us for in/after-school dance instruction. The students engaging in dance were rapidly more focused, engaged, and ready to learn. Immediately seeing the positive effects of dance on students when returning to class, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy connected with our vision and gave dance a chance!
In 2005, we opened Gabriella Charter School (GCS), a unique, Title 1, K-8 dance-themed public school, as a continued memorial of Gabriella’s desire to teach, and a key driver for the thriving future and overwhelming success of everybody dance! at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. Every student at GCS studies dance as part of every school day, improving their day in a way that makes a striking difference in the present and can tremendously transform lives for a brighter future.
In 2013, we established Gabriella Charter School as a separate but linked non-profit entity to strengthen governance capacity, with everybody dance! continuing to provide its award-winning in/after-school model of dance training and creative youth development.
We – The Gabriella Foundation and Gabriella Charter Schools – continually seek to strengthen our historic partnership through strategic collaboration and cooperation in a variety of areas. As we grow together, we ensure that our core areas of focus remain competitive and resilient, working in concert to deliver the highest quality dance and academics.
Mission and Vision
The Mission of The Gabriella Foundation is to transform the lives of underserved youth in Los Angeles through high quality dance instruction.
Our Vision is for The Gabriella Foundation to be nationally recognized as a model for transformative work in the artistic expression of dance and creative youth development. To nurture and sustain communities where youth, regardless of economic or racial background, foster a lifelong appreciation of dance, are leaders engaging positively in their communities, serve as role models and mentors to new generations, possessing the self-discipline, confidence, and sheer drive to reach their full potential.
In 2017-18, The Gabriella Foundation’s everybody dance! program will provide high-quality, in/after-school dance education to 3,700 underserved children and youth at 14 sites throughout Los Angeles. On average, students stay with our program for 7+ years and 30% study more than one dance form – the depth of learning they experience becoming a part of them as they transition into post-high school college and career pursuits. Everybody dance! is anything but fleeting:
- 93% of students surveyed say that everybody dance! improves their physical fitness
- 89% said their self-esteem improved
- 91%, their self-efficacy
- 90% their sense of being supported by friends and the community.