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Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles - Summer Night Lights

Summer Night Lights (SNL) addresses gang violence and community building by opening 32 parks to evening programming across the city. SNL organizes programming that ranges from the arts to athletics, community learning and social gatherings. More »

The Problem

In 2007, then-Council Member Eric Garcetti learned of a tragic shooting near a closed public park. The response was the first Summer Night Lights, a program that continues today, driving community engagement by offering programming during the evening hours in 32 parks across Los Angeles.

The Effects

The lack of safe and accessible public space, oppressive economic conditions and crowded housing situations creates high levels of stress within families. This is potentially driving kids to hang out on streets and increasing their likelihood of becoming involved in unhealthy activities or victims of violence and crime. To mitigate this problem, the city designed Summer Night Lights (SNL), a program that aims to reduce violent crime while promoting peaceful, positive and healthy activities.

The Barriers

Children in gang-ridden areas lack safe, accessible places in the Los Angeles Community.

The Solution

All activities are free, and each SNL location is open Wednesday through Saturday from 7-11 p.m. from late June through early August, and on Friday and Saturday throughout the remainder of August. SNL activities serve as a diversion from negative activities for youth in these areas and help build social connections that replace gangs. Gang intervention workers are assigned to moderate gang disputes and ensure that there are cease-fires at SNL parks. This strategy has become a nationally recognized success story for both reducing violence and building communities for safer cities.

The Impact

The program serves 690,523 youth and their family members with extended hours and programming over the course of the summer. SNL also serves over 430,000 free meals to program participants, plus free nightly snacks and themed dinners.

Our Impact

LADF supports overall programming for SNL. This unique public-private undertaking is creating platforms for positive community engagement with law enforcement via meaningful sports, arts, educational and recreational activities, while at the same time creating job opportunities and linkages to community-based resources. LADF also collaborates with SNL to implement a reading challenge program and promote literacy corners at all park sites. Participants who complete the literacy challenge are eligible for free tickets to a Dodgers game. Across all 32 sites, SNL Lead Youth Squad members are trained to take the lead in implementing reading programs at their respective site. SNL literacy corners at each site engage law enforcement and representatives of professional sports teams in reading with youth and families.