Los Angeles County will be home to the state’s first publicly-run urban boarding school, to be built at the corner of Vermont Avenue and Manchester Boulevard in South Los Angeles.
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to provide $71 million over 15 years to fund the SEED L.A. school, a state-of-the-art vocational and college preparatory that will draw students from the County child welfare system, probation facilities and the surrounding communities.
“For too long our community has asked the County to revitalize this site, and today we commit not only to revitalizing it, but to catalyzing it by delivering educational opportunity, economic development and guaranteed prospects for employment,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Funding for the school will be matched by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which seeks to create a pipeline of graduates with the necessary skills to either go to college or enter the transportation infrastructure industry.
“Metro is in the midst of implementing the largest and most ambitious infrastructure expansion program in the United States, but 40 percent of our workforce is eligible to retire in the next five years,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “The same thing is happening across the transportation industry and it’s critical to our mission—and to the transportation industry—that we recruit, educate and hire the workforce of tomorrow. That is the reason that the SEED School of Los Angeles County is an essential, forward-looking program worth pursuing and funding.”
The SEED Foundation has earned national praise for its innovative model that integrates a rigorous academic curriculum with a nurturing boarding program. It currently operates three schools, one each in Washington D.C., Baltimore and Miami. The Los Angeles school will serve approximately 400 students in grades 9-12.
“SEED is thrilled to be coming to Los Angeles,” said Lesley Poole, CEO of the Seed Foundation. It is our intention, working with the County and with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to provide an outstanding, college preparatory public boarding program that will provide students in the County an opportunity to realize their potential and achieve their dreams of post-secondary success.
The vote was also heralded by community advocates, who said the school’s advent opened a new pathway toward not just education, but also employment, for the community’s youth.
“I believe that this project will address the basic fundamental ills that have stunted this community’s growth and development for years,” said Pastor Anthony Williams of the 88th Street Temple. “This is not just another band aid solution for a 27-year-old wound; it’s a great start for real transformative healing that needs to take place in our community.”
The most innovative new educational project in California will be located on a formerly blighted parcel of land in South Los Angeles that had long been a source of community resentment.
In a rare move for the County, last spring the Board of Supervisors took five blighted acres on the east side of the 8400 and 8500 blocks of South Vermont by eminent domain, offering site owner Eli Sasson $15.7 million. The property had been vacant since the L.A. Riots in 1992, with only a partially burned out building remaining. The eyesore, which anchors a key corner in the neighborhood, had received more than 35 notices of violations in 26 years.
The project will now move rapidly to the development stage of the project, which in addition to the school will also include 180 units of affordable housing, retail outlets, a transit plaza and a Metro job training program.
Metro is sorely in need of well-trained workers. Almost 70 percent of Metro employees are over the age of 40, while at the same time, Measure M is estimated to generate an additional 778,000 jobs.
SEED School campus renderingprovided by Abode Communities.