For over 40 years Rick has been a champion in providing high quality education and healthcare to support Los Angeles families living below the poverty line. The Caruso Foundation works closely with youth of all ages within the Los Angeles community, providing education, mentorship, healthcare, and wrap-around services to change their life’s trajectory. Working with a network of local organizations — each with a proven track record of providing exceptional services and programs to the communities they serve — the foundation takes a long-term approach to transforming the lives of underserved youth with initiatives beginning as early as 6 months of age to graduate-level opportunities.

Investing in Early Education

Providing early educational opportunities to children beset by socioeconomic disadvantages is a powerful way to minimize the success gap. Low-income households and people of color have historically faced significant hardships and systemic challenges, resulting in an achievement gap earlier in life that grows over time. The Caruso Family Foundation aims to confront this disparity at its roots. The programs The Foundation supports not only measure success through academic achievements, but also the long-term effects on students’ lives through innovative mentorship programs, wraparound services that support families and communities, and various career resources. The Foundation continues to enhance our pipeline of educational opportunities with unique collaborations with local law enforcement, educators and community leaders.

Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision for Caruso Affiliated/AP Images)
In 2013, the Caruso Family Foundation made a commitment to launch the Operation Progress ecosystem in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, an area that has among the lowest life expectancy and college graduation rates in California. Founded with the intention of empowering underserved youth, the ecosystem relies upon partnership between Operation Progress, LAPD, and local schools to guide and mentor hundreds of students — most of whom live in the area’s housing developments — from elementary school through college graduation over a decade. Within the program, over 80% of students maintain a 3.0 GPA and have been accepted into competitive four-year universities including USC, Boston College and Northwestern University. Operation Progress is committed to instilling a sense of community, safety, security and trust in its young participants. This unique collaboration between law enforcement, educators, and community leaders is already being viewed as a national model for both student achievement and improved police-community relations.
People try and place limits on kids like me about how far we can go, especially in my community. But in OP, you create your own floor and own ceiling.—MEAH, FRESHMAN AT MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

In 2013, Tina and Rick Caruso launched the Caruso Scholars program in Los Angeles in partnership with South Central Scholars. This college scholarship program provides four years of tuition assistance, academic assistance, and career mentorship to high-performing, low-income students who are often the first in their family to achieve higher education.

“As a rising senior at Boston College, I have been reflecting on all the support I’ve received from OP staff, officers, and donors. Rick Caruso has been there from the very start ensuring each scholar is appreciated. Whether that was by sending scholars on a fun field trip to The Grove, providing groceries for the families during the pandemic, or using his platform to push towards the change we need in our society. I am extremely thankful for my support system that’s helped me get this far."—JENNIFER, SENIOR AT BOSTON COLLEGE
Founded on Skid Row in 1980, Para Los Niños provides education and wraparound support to over 10,000 children, youth, and families living below the poverty line in Los Angeles each year. The organization fosters pathways to success by striving for excellence in education and family support, as well as comprehensive social-emotional and community-based services. In partnership with Para Los Niños, Tina and Rick Caruso have established the Tina & Rick Caruso Early Education Center, providing Early Head Start and Head Start for 80+ infants and toddlers 6 weeks old to 5 years old, in the heart of Skid Row. The Education Center takes a holistic approach to strengthening the social, emotional and physical well-being of the children to promote school readiness.
You guys at PLN have no idea how much I love and appreciate you. No one has ever helped me as much as you. I’ve been through many rough patches and you guys have gotten to know my story and have always been there for me. From help with food and transportation assistance to referrals for different resources — like the time that I was homeless and you guys helped me — and help with my college applications, and much more support and guidance.”—CHRISTOPHER, YWS

The Caruso Family Foundation is one of the most active and engaged supporters of education, especially at schools in low-income neighborhoods. The Foundation committed $1 million to provide scholarships over the next 6 years. Significant support is provided to schools, including Loyola High School, St. Francis High School, St. Paul of the Apostle School, Verbum Dei High School, St. Mary’s Academy, and St. Lawrence of Brindisi School.

In 2019, Rick announced a $50 million commitment to the Pepperdine School of Law. The contribution, made through The Caruso Family Foundation, will expand educational access to exceptional, historically underserved student populations—a hallmark of the Caruso family’s philanthropic efforts in the Los Angeles area and beyond—as well as fuel several initiatives to strengthen the School of Law’s academic programming.

Tina and I believe that rising levels of student debt is causing a crisis in the American educational system. The system is broken and does a poor job at giving kids living in poverty equal access to educational opportunities, thus creating a tectonic divide between the rich and poor. Providing access to quality education for underprivileged children is an important social cause that demands our time and investment. Educational access influences the diversity of candidates that pursue careers in public service — roles that have a critical impact on society — as well as the labor market more broadly. There was once a time when education was considered the great equalizer in America, and our society has strayed too far from this ideal — education should not be a privilege."—RICK J. CARUSO

Investing in Healthcare

Rick’s daughter, Gianna, was born with bilateral hearing loss. Rick and Tina were able to provide Gianna with the world class healthcare needed to live a great life. Rick and Tina are committed to providing that same level of quality healthcare and pioneering medical research to children born below the poverty line, or without the resources needed to pursue treatment, through the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology.  These are basic life skills that children need for their education and future success. This area of focus continues to underscore the family’s commitment to helping children that wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to afford these technologies or have access to this level of healthcare. The Caruso Foundation endowed the Caruso Department of Otolaryngology at the Keck School of Medicine and the USC Caruso Family Center for Childhood Communication.

The Caruso Family Foundation is also a long-time supporter of major healthcare institutions, including:

Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles

Dignity Health California Medical Center

Providence St. John’s Health Center

Rick Through the Years

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