Youth in Bioscience, Pathways to Success

The COVID-19 pandemic is a constant reminder of just how integral medicine and the life sciences are to the health and well-being of our society. Currently, workers in the bioscience industry are working hard on developing vaccines, therapies, and technologies to respond to the ensuing pandemic. As we look toward the future, the bioscience and biotech fields will only grow in a post-pandemic environment—and that is why it is so important to familiarize youth right here in Los Angeles with the possibilities the growing local bioscience industry has to offer.

The Second District held its first Los Angeles County Youth Bioscience Summit on Friday, October 9th. The Summit consisted of panel discussions and interactive lab experiments meant to expose youth to the fields of life sciences.

“The Youth Bioscience Summit gave a platform to share resources for students to build a career in the life sciences. This event shared valuable information to enrich the next generation of bioscience workers with the expertise, skills and experience needed to thrive in the field,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has been a champion of providing opportunities for work and learning in the life sciences and related fields.

Additionally, the event focused on the different ways Los Angeles County has invested in bioscience, highlighting strategies to be competitive for entry-level jobs and the various ways a degree in the life sciences touches a wide range of industries. Many of the participants were students from high schools and community colleges located in Los Angeles County.

Originally, bioscience did not have as strong of a presence in Los Angeles County, especially in the Second District, making it that much more difficult for its constituents to connect with the job opportunities arising from the industry’s steady growth.

But five years ago, that all changed with a motion by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. Following the motion’s approval, the Board of Supervisors directed the County to study key industries for job growth and economic development. The result was the development of a Countywide Bioscience initiative that included a goal to create a workforce pipeline to diversify the industry. The Summit was part of this effort to expose young people to opportunities to work in the field of bioscience, which is increasingly important to do as we face the current economic downturn.

The event gave youth, at all levels, an understanding of the growing LA County bioscience landscape, the steps to take advantage of in career pathways, and hear directly from employers on workforce opportunities. While the Summit is just scratching the surface of what bioscience has to offer, the Second District continues to encourage youth to explore and consider what a future in bioscience can look like beyond the Summit.

Click here for the full agenda and resource guide. View 60-minutes of the Summit in its entirety below:

Supervisor Works to Keep Grocery Essential Workers Safe

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas distributed 10,000 free masks to grocery workers and customers at an Albertsons in the Crenshaw District, which along with neighboring Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills has seen 1,200 cases of COVID-19. The giveaway followed a recent ruling by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to fine other local grocery store chains for failing to take adequate precautions to protect their workers and customers from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Grocery workers risk their lives every day to make sure we us have food on the table,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We owe it to them to make sure they have what they need to be safe against COVID-19. These 10,000 free masks will not only protect essential workers but also their families, their customers, and their communities – our communities. It also means low-income residents don’t have to worry about spending money for personal protective equipment, we’ve got them covered.”

UFCW Local 770 representative Ludmila Blanco said, “Grocery store workers continue to be on the frontlines of this long-lasting pandemic. We are grateful for Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ leadership to ensure that our workers – particularly within communities of color which have been disproportionately impacted by this virus – receive the protection they need to continue working and protecting their families.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas partnered with Mujeres de la Tierra, a nonprofit that works on community development and environmental stewardship in South and East LA, to show people how to safely dispose of used masks without littering, and to distribute masks to surrounding communities. Mujeres de la Tierra Founder and President Irma Muñoz, said, “Mujeres de la Tierra is honored to join Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas to provide local residents and families with free masks to protect themselves and others from the spread of the coronavirus.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has been working with Operation USA, Servicon and Moldex to distribute 150,000 masks, and with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office to distribute another 50,000 masks, throughout Los Angeles County’s Second District. He has handed out the masks to firefighters, hospital staff, homeless services providers, public defenders, food distribution nonprofits, church leaders, grocery store workers and others.

A New Day in LA County: A Budget Based on Equity

Just two months after the establishment of an Antiracist Policy Agenda for the County of Los Angeles—and despite the unprecedented loss in anticipated revenues—the Board of Supervisors continued to drive toward a more equitable County with the approval of the 2020-21 Supplemental Budget. Instilled with racial and economic justice principals to reduce disparities and elevate the quality of life for underserved communities, this is an equity-based budget. It represents a new day and a new way to improve the lives of the most vulnerable residents in the County.

Largely through the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund, this budget includes funding for the County’s emergency response to COVID-19, including testing, contact tracing, rent relief, eviction defense, food distribution, and small businesses grants and loans to help families and businesses stay afloat.

As the County enters the ninth month of the pandemic, the danger COVID-19 represents to persons experiencing homeless remains significant. This budget funds complementary emergency short term solutions. Since the onset of the pandemic more than 4,000 of the most vulnerable, elderly persons experiencing homeless have been brought indoors—protecting their lives and safeguarding the public health. And concrete steps are being taken to place them on a path to safe and stable, long-term housing.

The budget further de-emphasizes the punitive, and reemphasizes health, rehabilitation, and prevention. It adds $30M to the Office of Diversion and Re-Entry (ODR), bringing the total 2020-2021 budget to $150M. A significant program that is proven effective in reducing recidivism, and breaking the cycle between jail and homelessness by connecting people to community based clinical care and supportive housing with wrap around services. The budget also includes $72.3M to launch the Alternatives to Incarceration and make a cohesive vision of a system of care that promotes health and safety a reality. The budget will further establish the Probation Oversight Commission along with a dedicated investigative unit within in the Inspector General’s Office to shine more light through robust oversight and achieve greater accountability.

As the County enters this new day, antiracism is becoming the new normal, putting care first and jail last, remaining steadfast in the unrelenting commitment to fight homelessness, and investing in thriving arts and cultural communities.

As the largest and most diverse county in the nation, the County must ensure that budgetary investments of more than $37 billion offer the best returns for its communities. We are putting the values of equity to work and they will lead the way.

Supporting Firefighters and First Responders

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office Director General Louis Huang and, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas present Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby with 35,000 surgical masks at Fire Station 58. Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

As wildfires continue to burn, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Director General Louis Huang of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles presented 35,000 surgical masks to the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD). A gift from Taiwan, the masks will be distributed countywide to firefighters, lifeguards and other first responders.

Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

“Our firefighters have been essential workers – essential heroes – long before COVID-19 broke out, and many are on the front lines right now, risking their lives to protect people and property from some of the most extreme wildfires we’ve experienced in recent history,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

“At the same time, firefighters are in our own neighborhoods, responding to emergencies closer to home,” he added. “This donation of 35,000 masks will reinforce their safety gear, making our first responders even better equipped to continue their heroic work.”

“I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and LA County Fire Chief Osby as we truly exemplify the power behind the meaning of ‘Taiwan Can Help” and Stronger Together!’,” Taipei Economic and Cultural Office Director General Louis Huang said. “Taiwan will stand in solidarity with the U.S. until we resurge from this dire time, stronger than ever before.”

Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

“We greatly appreciate Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Director General Louis Huang, and Taiwan for this generous gift of 35,000 surgical masks,” said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby.  “This gift provides another layer of safety for our firefighters and lifeguards who are on the front lines.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has spent the last several weeks distributing masks to essential workers and the vulnerable populations they serve. The list includes medical workers, grocery workers, homeless services providers, public defenders and more.

Photo by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

25,000 Masks for Homeless Service Providers and Shelters

Continuing to strengthen protections for Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, in partnership with Moldex, donated 25,000 masks to homeless service providers.

The mask giveaway took place at Upward Bound House’s Family Emergency Shelter in Culver City, a former motel that has been repurposed as an emergency shelter for families who had been living on the streets, in vehicles, and other unsustainable living situations. Governor Gavin Newsom is seeking to take this model – converting motels and hotels into affordable housing for the homeless – statewide with an initiative called Homekey.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) Housing for Health Division received 22,000 of the masks to distribute to homeless service providers countywide. The remaining 3,000 masks went to Upward Bound House, a nonprofit that helps current and formerly homeless families with children achieve self-sufficiency and stability by providing them with permanent housing, supportive services and advocacy – with a focus on preventing them from falling back into homelessness.

“We support Upward Bound House and the many other homeless service providers that pound the pavement each and every day to ensure that no man, woman or child ever has to call the streets of Los Angeles County their home,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “This work is hard enough without a pandemic. With this donation of 3,000 masks, Upward Bound House’s caring and dedicated staff can safely continue to help families get a roof over their heads and get back on their feet. Upward Bound House’s clients, meanwhile, can use the masks to stay healthy as they navigate the road to recovery.”

“Like all families in LA, the families we serve are deeply concerned about their health and safety,” Upward Bound House CEO Christine Mirasy-Glasco said. “These masks will help our families protect themselves from the pandemic and continue to focus on their goal of living independent, healthy lives. The masks will also be provided to staff, volunteers and visitors to ensure that Upward Bound House maintains a safe working environment for all.”

“Moldex is pleased during these challenging times to be able to support the worthy efforts of Supervisor Thomas and our neighbors at Upward Bound,” said Mark Magidson, President of Moldex-Metric, Inc., which donated the masks.

In addition to the donation of 22,000 masks, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas recently gave DHS Housing for Health a $575,000 grant to purchase partitions, air flow devices, and other protective equipment to ensure safe physical distancing and prevent the spread of infection at homeless shelters and interim housing  within Los Angeles County’s Second District, protecting the health and safety of both residents and staff.

DHS Housing for Health Division’s Program Manager for Policy and Planning, Sally Malone, said “Personal protective equipment is a crucial requirement for our homeless service provider partners who work directly with people experiencing homelessness to secure housing and provide supportive services.”

“The Housing for Health program, which funds housing and service providers throughout Los Angeles County, is so grateful for this donation of PPE which will enable our partners to continue their work with people experiencing homelessness in the safest, most effective way possible during the COVID-19 crisis,” she added. “Access to PPE is vital to the staff, participants and the operations of homeless service provider agencies, such as Upward Bound House.”

Over the last several months, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has been working with Operation USA, Servicon and Moldex to distribute 150,000 masks throughout LA County’s Second District, whose residents have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The masks have been distributed to thousands of local residents, as well as essential workers such as health care providers, grocery store workers, public defenders, and now homeless services providers.

Since its inception in 1990, Upward Bound House has placed around 1,400 families in permanent housing, including 2,600 children. It currently serves more than 400 families a year through programs on the Westside and in South Los Angeles. Their programs include a “rapid rehousing” program that helps families transition from shelters into their own apartments as quickly as possible. There are also eight residential housing programs, of which two are for pregnant and/or parenting youth ages 18-24.

With the pandemic exacerbating the already profound struggles of homeless families, Upward Bound House responded by providing food, basic household items, masks and other protective gear. Its caring and dedicated staff also installed reliable high-speed internet at all shelter facilities so that children can continue their education through distance learning. They have also increased the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing routines at all their residential sites.

Created in 2013, DHS Housing for Health focuses on creating permanent supportive housing opportunities and providing clinical services for chronically homeless patients within the DHS system of care. With their complex medical and behavioral conditions, these patients tend to be frequent users of emergency healthcare and public safety resources, including the jail system.

DHS Housing for Health oversees and funds several homeless service programs, including more than 300 street outreach workers within Multi-Disciplinary Teams working with unsheltered individuals across the County, recuperative care and stabilization interim housing, board and care placements, access to social security benefits, and permanent housing opportunities.