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Fenton Avenue Charter School Of Lake View Terrace, CA Wins $1,500 Grant As Regional Winners Of The 2nd Annual Mutt-i-grees® “America Adopts” PSA Contest With Their Message, “Adopt a Champion Mutt-i-gree”

World-Renowned Dog Behavior Specialist Cesar Millan Presents Educators with Prize-Winning Check at Annual Rescue Awards in New York City

Renowned dog behavior specialist Cesar Millan (2nd from left), NSALA President John Stevenson (3rd from left), and Associate Director, Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy Director, Yale School of the 21st Century, Dr. Matia Finn-Stevenson (2nd from right) present a $1,500 educational grant to Regional Prize Winners of the Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” PSA Contest. Educators from Fenton Avenue Charter School in Lake View Terrace, CA attended the 2012 DogCatemy Mutt-i-grees Rescue Awards Gala at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where the check was presented. In attendance (left to right): Jessi Tello, teacher; Millan; Stevenson; Finn-Stevenson, and Irene Sumida, Principal.


LAKE VIEW TERRACE, CA (January 2, 2013) – Fenton Avenue Charter School in Lake View Terrace, CA is among the winners of the 2nd Annual Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” PSA Contest. As Regional Winners, the School has received a $1,500 educational grant for their PSA “Adopt a Champion Mutt-i-gree.” The check was presented to school representatives by world-renowned Dog Behavior Specialist Cesar Millan at North Shore Animal League America’s DogCatemy Mutt-i-grees Rescue Awards Gala on December 17, 2012 in New York City.

The PSA Contest is a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of the availability and desirability of shelter pets, otherwise known as Mutt-i-grees. Students from across the country submitted creative PSAs encouraging Americans to adopt from their local shelter or rescue group. The contest reflects the essence of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, a unique approach to teaching children social and emotional skills as well as highlighting the individual characteristics and needs of Mutt-i-grees. The Curriculum was developed by Yale University School of the 21st Century in collaboration with North Shore Animal League America and funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation.

According to Barbara Aragon, one of the teachers involved in supervising the creation of the PSA and Mutt-i-grees Team Leader, the video’s “Adopt a Champion Mutt-i-gree” theme was inspired by the summer Olympics. Teachers asked students, if there were a dog Olympics, what would their dogs be a champion at doing?

“It was really a team effort,” says Aragon. Using the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum as their guide, she and her colleagues led the students through brainstorming, storyboarding and creating illustrations. The many and varied dogs that appear in the animated video are the result of an after-school drawing contest that the school held for 4th and 5th graders, who were asked to “create [their] Mutt-i-gree,” based on their own adopted pets or, if they preferred, based on a compilation of several animals.

Two of the three Fenton Charter Public Schools, all of which operate together under the direction of the schools’ Executive Director, Irene Sumida, are currently implementing the Curriculum. These include Fenton Primary Center (which operates under the leadership of Director Richard Parra) and PSA Contest regional winner Fenton Avenue Charter School (led by Director Dr. Michelle Rappino). In addition, Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter School, led by Dr. David Riddick and Vahe Markarian, has begun receiving training in preparation to implement the curriculum as well.

Ms. Aragon says that the program, which the students love, has “opened up a huge conversation for a lot of our kids about pet responsibility,” to the point where students recently collaborated to run their own food drive for Burbank Animal Shelter. Local shelter staff have also come in to talk to students about people’s responsibility to pets, and, according to Ms. Aragon, “They are floored by what these kids know. The kids know their stuff.”

Inspired by the Curriculum’s emphasis on teamwork and other interpersonal skills, the school has also implemented their own unique “Mutt-i-gree Buddies” program which they’ve affectionately nicknamed “Budd-i-grees.” This program matches upper grade students with students from lower grades in a mentoring relationship. “The kids love each other, and they love the program,” Aragon says.

“The students at Fenton Avenue Charter School really captured the essence of what we teach in the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum,” said Cesar Millan. “The Curriculum seeks to enhance children’s ability to consider another’s perspective—whether an animal or person—and the impact of one’s actions. The students’ PSA mirrored the Curriculum’s core values: fostering empathy, compassion and responsible decision-making.”

The contest was open to schools that teach children in any, or all, of the following grades: Pre-K, Kindergarten and Grades 1-8. The PSAs were judged by a panel of experts from both the Animal League and The Cesar Millan Foundation based on originality, creativity and persuasiveness. The PSA Contest is a nationwide initiative and collaboration of North Shore Animal League America, the Yale University School of the 21st Century and the Cesar Millan Foundation.

To learn more about the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum or to view all of the winning PSAs visit


The Mutt-i-grees “America Adopts” Second Chance PSA Contest gives all runner-up schools that submitted a public service announcement to this year’s contest a second chance at winning. Of the schools still in the running, the top three will be chosen by popular vote.

The video that gets the most plays wins a $1,500 grant for the school of the students who made it. Second and third-place prizes will be $1,000 and $500, respectively. Everyone is encouraged to help their favorite school win. For contest rules, a list of the winners and videos still in the running, please visit

The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is an innovative program that builds on the affinity between children and animals, providing a unique context to teach compassion, empathy and social responsibility. Developed by the Yale School of the 21st Century in collaboration with North Shore Animal League America, and funded by the Cesar Millan Foundation, the Curriculum highlights the unique characteristics and desirability of shelter dogs, known as Mutt-i-grees. To learn more, visit

The Animal League has saved more than 1,000,000 lives. As the world’s largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization, we understand that a rescue isn’t complete until each animal is placed into a loving home. Our innovative programs provide education to reduce animal cruelty and advance standards in animal welfare. Our staff and volunteers work tirelessly in the pursuit of our vision of a world where all companion animals find permanent homes to end euthanasia. For more information, visit

Animal activist and world-renowned dog behaviorist Cesar Millan officially established the Cesar Millan Foundation with the mission to create and deliver community humane education programs and promote animal welfare. Since its inception in 2007, the Cesar Millan Foundation has provided grants and materials to hundreds of non-profit animal organizations to support the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of abused and abandoned dogs; donated emergency assistance through the Daddy's Emergency Animal Rescue (DEAR) Fund, and contributed critical funding and professional insight to develop The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum with The Pet Savers Foundation, in collaboration with the Yale University School of the 21st Century. For more information visit

Fenton Avenue Charter School, Fenton Primary Center and Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter School operate under the umbrella of the Fenton Charter Public Schools (FCPS), a Charter Management Organization and non-profit public benefit corporation. The original founders and directors of Fenton Avenue Charter School, Irene Sumida is the Executive Director and Joe Lucente is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fenton Charter Public Schools.

The mission of the organization is to further promote the work initiated by Fenton Elementary School at the time of conversion in 1993:

The mission of the Fenton Charter Public Schools is to offer a high quality innovative education to all students in a safe, secure, nurturing environment where students, parents and staff become a community of learners achieving collaborative and successful outcomes.

The conversion of Fenton Avenue Elementary in 1993 and the subsequent opening of the Fenton Primary Center in 2008 have allowed every member of the school community to participate fully in the transformation of the educational opportunities available to students in the northeast San Fernando Valley. The result of this collaborative effort has been total accountability in every aspect of the management, operation, and governance of the charter schools, higher student achievement across all grade levels, and continuous focus on a school-wide vision. It is with this same level of commitment, focus, and energy that Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter School joined the Fenton organization in July 2012.

Media Contacts:

Barbara Aragon
Fenton Avenue Charter School
[email protected]

Devera Lynn
North Shore Animal League America
[email protected]