After years of struggle by parents in the Pico-Union area, CARECEN helped form a grass-roots coalition that pushed for new schools to ease student crowding. Belmont High School had been built in 1923 and enrolled more than 6,000 students. Most, about 5,000, were bussed in from outside the neighborhood. Building and opening the Roybal Learning Center made room for these students that had squeezed into classes at Belmont.
CARECEN also worked to build the Belmont Zone of Choice, which includes 19 small learning communities or pilot schools. It includes Vista Hermosa Park, the first new public park in the downtown Los Angeles area since 1895. The park has a soccer field that is shared by the school and the community.