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LAUSD tries new George Lopez campaign to raise funds for the arts

Comedian George Lopez is joining LAUSD in a campaign to raise funds for arts education and promote his new movie,
Comedian George Lopez is joining LAUSD in a campaign to raise funds for arts education and promote his new movie, "Spare Parts."
Larry French/Getty Images for Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Actor George Lopez is partnering with Los Angeles Unified School District to help raise money for arts education and promote his new film.

The new campaign, called "Lowride with George Lopez," offers people a chance to win a ride-along with the comedian in a vintage, lowrider car on the Sunset Strip if they donate $10 or more. Airfare, dinner and hotel stays are also included in the prize. 

"We strongly believe that LAUSD should actively partner with the entertainment industry in working together to support arts education," said Rory Pullens, new head of the district's arts education branch, by email. 

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Lopez is promoting his film “Spare Parts,” which tracks the real-life journey of four Arizona high school students who start a robotics team on a tight budget.

The actor attended LAUSD's San Fernando High School and has been a longtime supporter of arts education at the school. About 900 students were scheduled to attend a screening of the film at the high school Thursday afternoon.

Money raised in the campaign will go to the LA Fund for Public Education, a nonprofit started in 2011 to support the district in efforts that include arts education and free breakfast in the classroom. The latest fundraiser will benefit the district's arts education branch and after-school branch, Beyond the Bell. 

"L.A. Unified has faced severe budget cuts in recent years that are expected to continue," the district said in a news release. Meanwhile, tax records show donations to LA Fund may be on the decline.

The nonprofit's assets dipped to $1.8 million, a decrease of 30 percent from June 2012 to June 2013, according to the latest data available.

Pullens said the district gets small, "occasional donations" to the arts education branch, but more commonly, individual schools receive outside gifts that help with funding arts instruction. 

The district's communication office did not immediately respond to requests for outside funding amounts for arts education. 

LAUSD has been struggling to rebuild its arts education programs after sharp funding cuts during the recession. Currently, arts education access is spotty: some schools offer rich and well-established arts programs, but thousands of students in the district are without arts education at all — a violation of California's state education code that KPCC has covered. The law requires arts education access for 1st through 12th-graders. 

Donations and contest entries are being accepted online