As part of an effort to close what Mayor Eric Garcetti says is a skills gap in the Los Angeles workforce, officials announced a new summer program Tuesday to provide online and in-person classes to a wide range of young and older students.
The Summer of Learning program, a collaboration between the city and the Los Angeles Unified School District, will offer free classes to Angelenos ages 3 to 24, focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, as well as job-readiness training. The project is being funded by a $500,000 donation from J.P. Morgan Chase and $200,000 from the nonprofit California Endowment.
The classes will be offered in conjunction with two other Los Angeles programs, one intended to connect 10,000 young people to summer jobs and another that extends summer park hours. The city is getting the program at no cost, other than the use of its facilities, the mayor's office said.
Garcetti said the effort "will transform this city into a 500-square-mile campus" aimed at helping kids get ahead academically. Earlier this week, Garcetti told a town hall audience that the city is creating high-wage jobs faster than low-wage jobs, but open positions aren't going to Angelenos because they lack necessary skills.
At a press conference Tuesday, the mayor said half of the achievement gap between lower and high-income youth can be traced to unequal access to summer learning opportunities.
"We imagine that we all start at the starting line as equals, but we don't," he said. The Summer Learning project will seek to close a "gap across the city, based on your ZIP code."
Students who complete classes, which range from cooking to interview skills to computer program coding, will earn digital badges documenting their accomplishments. In-person classes will be held at city parks, libraries, schools and venues such as the Getty Center and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Online sign-ups for classes will begin May 20 at www.summeroflearning.la.
L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy said the program will help the district better prepare students for the careers they want.
"We take that obligation dead seriously," he said.
"You had better not miss out on this," Deasy said, addressing L.A. students. "Sign up. I don't want to see you hanging out on the streets. I don't want to see you doing nothing when there is a phenomenal opportunity."