LOS ANGELES – Delivering on his pledge to redesign and expand career-orientated education in Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today launched The Los Angeles Infrastructure Academy, an education and career-training program to train LAUSD students for meaningful, well-paying careers in the public utilities.
“Today we are targeting hard-working students in our most gang-ridden areas, and we are offering them a pathway into high-paying jobs,”
Mayor Villaraigosa said.
“It’s a win-win for our City, for our students, our schools, our City, and all Angelenos,” the Mayor said at a news conference with LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board President H. David Nahai; City Councilmember Tom LaBonge; and Chip Chapdelaine, President of Los Angeles Trade Technical College.
Open to high school juniors and seniors, the Academy will offer its students:
● Intensive math and English tutoring
● Industry-oriented college courses
● Hands-on technical training
● One-on-one mentoring with an industry veteran and an AmeriCorps volunteer
● Paid summer internships
● Support through every step of the job application process
While initially drawing students from four schools in South Los Angeles – Jefferson, Manual Arts and Santee high schools and The Accelerated School – the Academy has the potential to rapidly expand throughout Los Angeles.
About 1,760 students will be enrolled in the Academy during its first two years, with the first full class graduating in June of 2010. Of these, about 600 students are expected to enter well-paying careers with local public utilities.
Mayor Villaraigosa has designed the Academy to address two problems, including the rising drop-out and declining graduation rates faced by LAUSD, and the staffing shortfalls that jeopardize the ability of the LADWP to maintain and upgrade its aging infrastructure.
Today the department is looking to fill over 700 vacancies, while more than 50 percent of LADWP workers will be eligible for retirement in the next ten years.
“The Infrastructure Academy is an initiative that is both noble and practical, meeting the fundamental needs of the City, DWP, the students who will benefit from the program, and the underserved communities who be able to see progress,” David Nahai, President of the LADWP Board of Commissioners.
On Wednesday, the DWP Board of Commissioners awarded the Academy $1.5 million in initial funding, which will contribute to the Academy’s estimated $7 million budget through 2010. The Durfee Foundation provided initial seed funding for the Academy, and additional funding will come from the program’s partners, state-after-school funds and the philanthropic community.
In January, Mayor Villaraigosa pledged to redesign and expand career-orientated technical training when he released “The Schoolhouse,” a detailed policy framework for improving schools in Los Angeles.
“Coming together to provide children with the tools and support needed to be academically successful, is exactly what needs to happen across this district. This partnership should serve as a model for partnerships throughout the LAUSD,” School Board President Monica Garcia said.
A national survey of high school drop-outs funded by the Gates Foundation found that 81% of drop-outs said that they wanted to see a connection between school and work.
“The truth is that, while we struggle to find the qualified workers we need to keep this City running, half of our local talent pool drops out of before graduation,” Mayor Villaraigosa said.
“This Academy is about catching these potential stars, and filling our ranks with talent that we groom from the minor leagues.”
The LA Infrastructure Academy will be structured as a non-profit organization launched out of the Mayor’s Office, in partnership with the LADWP; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18; LA Trade Technical College; California State University at Los Angeles, College of Engineering; and LAUSD.
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