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Aiming High and Saving Lives

Photo by Diandra Jay, Board of Supervisors

After five months of intensive classroom and in-the-field training, it’s graduation day for the first class of EMT LA students. The program is a partnership between the Office of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Workers Education and Resource Center with funding support from the California Endowment.

“This pilot program is a win-win. Our young men of color deserve access to the best opportunities,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “And our communities deserve first rate emergency medical technicians.”

On the heels of a successful recent program in Alameda County, 21 young men from Los Angeles County’s Second District and their accountability partners, made up of parents, friends or significant others, participated in the orientation and kickoff at Central Baptist Church in Carson. Representatives from the Los Angeles County Departments of Children and Family Services, Probation, and Fire were on hand to provide words of wisdom and to participate in the launch of the program.

“In my neighborhood, my friends don’t know it’s possible to become a fire-fighter,” said Renard Page, a program participant.

The five month intensive program included technical skill development, life skill building and culminated with EMT certification. The young men selected through a rigorous application process earned a training stipend of $1,200 per month.

“The goal is to invest in young men so the return can be paid back to this community,” said Kenneth Lee from the LA County Fire Department.

The graduation was marked by a joyful celebration with family and friends and reflections from the graduates.

“This program changed the way we respond to people,” said Renard Page.

“As hard as you worked to get here, you have to continue to get to where you’re going and once you get there to stay,” said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby during the graduation ceremony.

This group is the first of three groups that will participate in the pilot program in Los Angeles County’s Second District over the next two years.

“It’s important for this program to continue because it shows there’s hope,” said Raul Cuellar, the valedictorian of the first graduating class.

Tech Extravaganza Inspires Youngsters

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas welcomed more than 100 middle and high schoolers from across Los Angeles County to the Microsoft YouthSpark DigiCamp Extravaganza, to encourage them to consider careers in technology.

img_2699“You are the next generation of inventors, scientists, and developers,” he told the enthusiastic youngsters, including students of Lou Dantzler Preparatory Charter High School. “I look forward to seeing how your ideas and your creativity will contribute to bettering the communities and the world in which we live.”

Microsoft organized the two-day bootcamp, held in Microsoft Square at L.A. Live, as part of a series of programs to benefit the community. The event featured hands-on breakout sessions and a hackathon in which students were given the opportunity to code.

img_2696“I’m hoping these kids can learn about technology and be young spark plugs for the future!” said Forest Riley, assistant teen development coordinator for the Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club, who said opportunities for applying new technology abound at the neighboring Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital.

Microsoft organized the event in partnership with the Brotherhood Crusade, Center for Digital Inclusion, Challengers Boys & Girls Club, Sunburst Youth Academy National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, Titus Single Parent Mentoring, and Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has previously reached out to young boys and girls of color to bridge the digital divide, encouraging them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. In October 2015, he hosted the County’s first hack day at Lennox Library, in which technology giants Microsoft, IDEO, CGI and NeoGov led workshops for about 100 youth ages 16-25 on such topics as turning an idea into a product, developing software applications, and launching a career in Information Technology. Students were able to create their own apps and share their innovations with one another.

In March 2016, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas spoke at a DigiGirlz Day event, co-sponsored with Girls Build LA, that urged middle and high school girls to identify a problem in their communities and engineer a plan to solve it. Students from Grace Hopper STEM Academy in Inglewood and Orville Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet in Westchester were among those who participated.

 

Exposition Park Welcomes New Soccer Stadium

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Los Angeles County and City officials along with owners of the Los Angeles Football Club joined together with a few hundred soccer fans to break ground on a new stadium in Exposition Park. Designed by LA-based architectural firm Gensler, the new soccer-specific facility named Banc of California Stadium will be built on the site of the former Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena accommodating 22,000 fans and LA’s newest soccer franchise.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAFC owners including Los Angeles legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, actor and comedian Will Ferrell, inspirational life coach and entrepreneur Tony Robbins, entertainment and sports legend Peter Guber, business leader and LAFC Lead Managing Owner Larry Berg, Co-Managing Owners Bennett Rosenthal and Brandon Beck, and LAFC President Tom Penn, in celebrating the historic groundbreaking.

“The stadium project represents a tremendous investment in South Los Angeles, providing a major league boost to our economy,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

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IMG_0456The new development will bring more than $350 million in private investment to South Los Angeles including a commitment to 40 percent local hires and 35 percent minority business. The development will include a large public plaza, restaurants, retail store, and a conference and events center, serving as a sports, entertainment, civic, and cultural landmark for Los Angeles.

“We start here,” said Larry Berg, LAFC Lead Managing Owner. “After years of planning and hard work we are set to make history here in the heart of the city.”

“This world-class stadium,” said Peter Guber LAFC Executive Chairman and Owner, “Will be a state of the art venue featuring ‘state of the heart’ experiences for players, fans and artists.”

“Los Angeles is the sports and entertainment capital of the world, and today we open a new chapter in our rich history with the world’s most popular game,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“It has always been important for me to invest in projects that create and support jobs in communities that are often overlooked, especially here in Los Angeles. The shovels in the ground today mean real dollars are now flowing into this community, benefitting thousands of people,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“So I say to the LAFC, Welcome to Expo Park… Now let’s get to work!” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

The new major league soccer team is expected to begin play in 2018 at the new stadium.

A Promise Zone in South LA

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The Obama administration has awarded South Los Angeles a federal Promise Zone designation, giving it priority access to federal funding as well as technical assistance to address the area’s 46 percent poverty rate.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti made the announcement during a press conference at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC). She said the goal of the Promise Zone initiative, created by President Barack Obama in 2013, is to significantly reduce poverty by providing greater resources to serve residents.

The new South L.A. Promise Zone is home to nearly 198,000 residents in parts of Vernon-Central, South Park, Florence, Exposition Park, Vermont Square, Leimert Park, and the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw neighborhoods. It is one of one of 13 urban Promise Zones in the nation, and the second in the City of Los Angeles.

IMG_0656 (1)A coalition of 53 community partners and more than 50 allies who developed the winning application call it the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z). They seek to capitalize on opportunities that new light rail lines bring for economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

“SLATE-Z represents an unprecedented partnership among dozens of diverse organizations with the collective vision of improving the quality of life in South LA,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This place-based approach aims to transform distressed neighborhoods into destination neighborhoods.”

Larry Frank, president of LATTC and convener of the SLATE-Z coalition, said, “With preference points on most federal grant opportunities and a partnership with HUD staff, the existing LA Promise Zone received more than $100 million in grants since designation in 2014. It is now South L.A.’s chance to step up.”

The federal designation will bring crucial benefits to residents. For example, students at the 11 comprehensive high schools in SLATE-Z will receive increased support to prepare for colleges and careers. Currently, more than half of residents older than 25 have less than a high school education and only nine percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The coalition also plans to tackle the 12 percent unemployment rate and under- employment to move more residents into living wage jobs and career pathways.

One of the coalition’s early victories was securing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s unanimous approval to create the Universal Pass or U-Pass pilot program, making more part-time students eligible for fare discounts. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Metro Board chair, carried the motion.

“The Promise Zone designation will help build on the incredible things already happening in South Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “This will bring new resources, energy, and urgency into our movement to expand opportunity in all of L.A.’s neighborhoods.”

US Rep. Karen Bass added, “This isn’t just an incredible victory for South Los Angeles, it shows that when our community leadership works together, we can accomplish great things for our neighborhoods.

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