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:

Great Plates to Fill A Great Need

Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

As COVID-19 continues to threaten the health of vulnerable populations, food security, employment, and small businesses, the Great Plates Delivered Program delivers on providing relief and hope in all these aspects. Recognizing the positive impact this program is having on the community, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas visited Sage Plant Based Bistro in Culver City to shine a light on the restaurant’s contributions to the community and this important program.

Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

Los Angeles County’s Great Plates Delivered Program is helping residents who are elderly or have pre-existing conditions, or heightened vulnerability to COVID-19, and might be fearful of or face barriers to visiting grocery stores. That’s where Sage Plant Based Bistro comes in. Sage is now participating in the first-in-the-nation program, launched by Governor Gavin Newsom as a meal delivery service for California’s older adults. The County of Los Angeles administers this program locally as a partnership between the Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) Department and Unite Here, and Local 11’s Hospitality Training Academy (HTA).

“With more than one million meals delivered since the program started in late April, it’s safe to say tens of thousands who would have been at-risk for contracting this virus were kept out of harm’s way,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “In addition to providing an essential economic stimulus to local businesses struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

“Thanks to the Great Plate program, we have been able to stay afloat and bring our coworkers back. As a result, they too can provide for their families. And are able to at least have the basics,” said Luna Sanchez Kitchen Manager at Sage Plant Based Bistro and Brewery.

WDACS provides three meals a day to 1,500 individuals across Los Angeles County by utilizing HTA’s network of hotels and commercial kitchens. The County has recently expanded the program to include local restaurants.

“They are very appreciative and love the food, some of them are not vegan and wouldn’t have tried this food if it wasn’t for this program.” said Luna Sanchez, Kitchen Manager at Sage Plant Based Bistro and Brewery. “It has helped people open their eyes to some other healthier options.”

For those in need of food and not able to afford groceries, please visit to find the food pantry nearest you.  

Urban Tech: The Future of South Los Angeles’ Creative Economy

The third annual Urban Tech Connect Summit just concluded after hosting a three-day virtual conference. The focus of this year’s summit was connecting Black and Latinx tech company founders to resources scale and grow their startups in a pandemic-stricken economy and environment.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas participated in a panel entitled “The Future of South Los Angeles’ Creative Economy” to explore ways to ensure more local talent from communities of color can access high-income and high-growth career opportunities.

“In this difficult economic downturn, cultivating the Creative Economy requires supporting small businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs at large,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas who has led efforts to launch $100 million in grants to small businesses, micro-entrepreneurs, and non-profits through the LA COVID-19 Regional Fund.

Recognizing the severe impact of the pandemic on the creative economy, the LA COVID-19 Regional Fund has reserved $10 million in grants specifically for musicians, artists, and non-profits. Furthermore, LA County is investing $14.3 million for wifi, hotspots, and computers in efforts to bridge the digital divide and help residents gain access to virtual learning and online public services.

Though Los Angeles as a whole is considered a global epicenter of the creative economy, South Los Angeles’ contribution is significant—and there are significant opportunities, which could help provide economic stability for an uncertain future.

“When I talk about the creative economy, I view it as an opportunity to leverage our assets—intellectual, physical infrastructure, and geographic advantages,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas when discussing creative economy industry growth in South Los Angeles. “Diversity is our comparative advantage and for me, I feel a responsibility to make sure we are opening up pathways.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas discussed innovative partnerships to open these pathways, highlighting PlugIn SouthLA, TECH Leimert, and Leaders Up as key partner organizations to foster creative talent and energy locally. These partnerships in tandem with the County’s forthcoming workforce development program for a film and digital media apprenticeship program aims to harness talent and provide opportunities in minority communities, particularly oriented toward at-risk youth.

The arts have also provided much-needed healing to vulnerable communities. Homeboy Industries and the Actor’s Gang were organizations highlighted by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in improving the quality of life for justice-involved individuals through their programming, demonstrating the arts are powerful far beyond their contributions to culture and bolstering the economy.

The panel also discussed the factors needed to support early-stage founders and startups in the South Los Angeles community, nurturing its innovators equitably as compared to other regions of Los Angeles.

America on Tech CEO Jessica Santana and Thinkwatts Founder Brandon (STIX) Salaam-Bailey joined Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in the discussion moderated by dot.LA Reporter Rachel Uranga.

“Understand what entrepreneurship is and how to set yourself up to be a legitimate company,” said Thinkwatts Founder Brandon (STIX) Salaam-Bailey speaking to new entrepreneurs. “And own your intellectual property.”

“In order for young people to believe that there is space for them in innovation, they need to see people in their communities engaged in innovation,” said America on Tech CEO Jessica Santana. “We need to give young people the tools and champion these tools so they know there is a pathway for them.”

Attendees for this virtual event ranged from startups, founders, and funders to students and entrepreneurs. The event provided these attendees with timely strategies and solutions from some of the industry’s leaders including Baron Davis Enterprises Founder Baron Davis and Share Ventures CEO Hamet Watt.

$100 Million to Boost Microentrepreneurs, Small Businesses, and Nonprofits

Los Angeles area businesses and nonprofits face significant challenges during the current public health and economic crisis of COVID-19. Thousands of those businesses will now be eligible to receive critical financial assistance thanks to $100 million of additional funding which will greatly increase the impact of the Los Angeles Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund, a joint effort by the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, and philanthropic partners.

The Recovery Fund, which has already awarded $3.2 million in grants to more than 300 L.A. County microentrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits, has now been bolstered by an additional $60 million in CARES Act funding from the County of Los Angeles and an additional $40 million from City of Los Angeles. This will provide thousands of Los Angeles County businesses with awards ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

“COVID-19 has not only been a public health challenge of enormous scale and human impact, it has devastated a major economic engine for our communities and regional economy—small businesses and microenterprises,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “With this fund, more help is on the way and it will be distributed equitably to the communities and small businesses most in need.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities across Los Angeles County with significant health and economic impacts,” said Kathryn Barger, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. “The L.A. Regional Recovery Fund is one of many efforts led by the County to help our residents and businesses get through these challenging times and emerge stronger than before.”

“COVID-19 has dealt a devastating blow to countless mom-and-pop shops, local restaurants, microentrepreneurs, and nonprofits – and we bear a clear responsibility to help them navigate through the worst of this crisis,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The L.A. Regional COVID Recovery Fund is a tribute to the power of our partnership, between the City and County, to deliver financial relief, vital aid, and the tools for recovery to the small businesses and workers who form the backbone of our economy.”

Businesses can apply for the next round of Recovery Fund awards starting today by visiting Businesses will only need to apply once to be eligible for future rounds. Nonprofit organizations, which play such a unique and important role in our communities, will also be eligible for $75,000 awards in a later round of funding.

“The City and County of Los Angeles are dedicating tens of millions of dollars in grant funds, which, in part, will prioritize assistance for underserved businesses and nonprofits, such as low-income Black, Latino, women and microentrepreneur business owners,” said L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez. “These are small business owners who did not get a fair shot at the federal government’s stimulus PPP funds, but need immediate assistance to keep their operations open. Each owner’s narrative is the story of L.A. and an American Dream unlike any other. The L.A. Regional COVID Fund exists to keep these Angelenos and their businesses and non-profits alive and flourishing. We encourage all eligible business owners to apply for Round Four.”

“Small businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and now more than ever, I am committed to ensuring they get the financial support they need to get through this crisis so they can survive and thrive long after this economic downturn,” said Los Angeles County Chair Pro Tem Hilda L. Solis. “Nothing is more important to me than keeping small businesses and our regional economy strong, and we all win when we invest in our hardworking entrepreneurs. This unprecedented global pandemic requires an unprecedented response, and L.A. County stands ready to offer relief to our small businesses.”

“We have been able to use these grants to keep some small businesses afloat and save local jobs, but there are so many more businesses that have been devastated by this pandemic and need our help,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but this latest round of funding is another opportunity for business owners, gig workers, and nonprofits to get help and the new features make it easier than ever to get connected to future grants.”

“Our local businesses and nonprofits have struggled to adapt to the pandemic, doing their best to keep their employees on the payroll and find creative ways to stay in business despite tremendous obstacles,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “I am glad that L.A. County is now able to offer dramatically more money to our businesses to help them weather this storm.”

“The coronavirus has caused major havoc to our city. Millions are unemployed with no savings to fall back on, our small businesses are on life support struggling to survive or expect financial challenges for years to come,” said Los Angeles Councilmember Curren D. Price, Jr., who opened the Business Resource Center (BRC) inside his District Office on 43rd Street and Central Avenue in 2014 to help local entrepreneurs. “Our small local businesses need a lifeline and The L.A. Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund provides just that—a glimmer of hope for workers to maintain their jobs and our business community to weather the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To ensure equitable access to capital across various demographics throughout the region, grants will be distributed through an online weighted system. The public-private partnership will be administered by national community development financial institution partner, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). LISC will administer the grant process and work through local partners to reach businesses and nonprofits who may not have received Federal relief funds.

“Our small businesses and nonprofits are in need of even more resources right now to better weather the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of LISC-LA. “LISC is proud to be working with L.A. County and L.A. City to provide grants to small businesses and nonprofits to ensure that our social safety net is strong during this unprecedented time.”

Recovery Fund programming was developed in partnership with LISC by the County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA), the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA), and the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD). “The $100 million Recovery Fund represents an unprecedented partnership between L.A. County and L.A. City agencies to support the area’s pandemic-ravaged small business and nonprofit community in an inclusive and equitable way,” said DCBA Director Joseph M. Nicchitta. “No matter where a small business or nonprofit is headquartered within the County, they are encouraged to apply for a grant through the Recovery Fund.”

Emilio Salas, LACDA Acting Executive Director, said, “We understand that keeping businesses in service means preserving a business owners’ dream, securing employment, and maintaining access to resources in a community. The monetary support being provided will reassure businesses, and residents alike, that we are undergoing this crisis together.”

Local partners providing technical assistance with proven experience in serving the County’s most vulnerable communities include the API Small Business Program, Inclusive Action for the City, LA Area Chamber of Commerce, New Economics for Women, Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE), Pacific Coast Regional (PCR), The Center by Lendistry, and Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation.

Those who need assistance are encouraged to call the L.A. County Disaster Help Center, a one-stop for local emergency resources, at (833) 238-4450 or visit The Disaster Help Center can connect callers to LA Regional COVID Fund partners and provide the most updated Fund information.

Enhancing Safety in Workplaces

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion empowering workers to safeguard their workplaces.

Authored by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, the motion authorizes worker-led public health councils, third-party workers, and community-based organizations to assist public health officials in implementing safety measures.

“The unsung heroes of our essential workforce are keeping our economy afloat during this unrelenting crisis,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “We must build on the Department of Public Health (DPH)’s enforcement resources by enabling workers to monitor, document and report potential public health violations, especially those tied to the potential spread of COVID-19, in a timely and nimble manner.”

“When public health guidelines are not rigorously implemented by businesses, it not only puts workers and customers at risk, it puts their families and communities at risk,” said Supervisor Kuehl. “That’s why we must aggressively monitor compliance in workplaces and empower workers and community organizations to help. Plain and simple: full compliance can mean the difference between life and death.”

By partnering with workers to determine which protocols are being followed and identifying hindrances, DPH is expanding its capacity to ensure adherence to COVID-19 public health protocols. This collaborative approach will support tailoring precautions for each workplace. Although comprehensive guidelines have been provided, there is a vast range of workplace activity across the County that may require very distinctive measures.

This motion is intended to help address concerns raised by essential workers, many of whom belong to communities of color and bear the brunt of COVID-19 infections and deaths. The County recently approved developing an anti-racist policy agenda and ensuring their safety is an integral part of the effort to achieve racial equity.

Recently, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas joined essential workers from across LA County for a Facebook Live hearing and heard directly from them about the challenges they face. SEIU United Service Workers West President David Huerta said, “They are doing their jobs to support the economy from crashing and to keep us safe and healthy while they and their families are taking on the increased risk of exposure to the virus.”

Describing the multilayered crises affecting essential workers, Los Angeles Black Worker Center Co-Executive Director Janel Bailey said, “We’re seeing a lot of the same dynamics of inequality that have left black workers behind and left other people of color behind—and we have to name systemic racism as the true virus that is impacting communities right now.”

Click the photo to watch the LA County Essential Worker Hearing.

Though the pervasive threat of the virus has prevented a widespread reopening of in-person work, this motion may help speed up economic recovery.

Workplaces, particularly restaurants and bars, have been identified as some of the highest risk virus transmission sites. Empowering workers to monitor and report violations of public health protocols will help curb the spread of the virus in workplaces, and ultimately in communities. When broader reopening occurs, this collaboration will bolster the implementation of the best public health practices that will keep businesses from having to close their doors again.

Dulan’s on Crenshaw has installed shields at its registers to protect workers.

“We thank the L.A. Board of Supervisors for supporting public health and approving this motion,” said Rob Nothoff, Policy Director at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “The workplace is foundational when it comes to public health, and workers are in a unique position to be the champions when it comes to stemming the coronavirus. We need all violations to be reported as soon as possible, and we need a framework to expedite this process. Who better to monitor and document public health violations than the workers themselves? When workers are engaged, the public is safer.”