New program aims to promote a college-bound culture in East L.A.

Students at Cal State L.A.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

An initiative intended to foster a college-going culture in East Los Angeles will grant guaranteed admission to Cal State L.A. to certain students at Garfield High School and East Los Angeles College, officials announced Thursday.

The collaborative program, named “GO East LA: A Pathway for College and Career Success,” promises enrollment at Cal State L.A. and East L.A. College for graduating seniors from Garfield High who reach minimum qualifications. It also provides the same guarantee to East L.A. students who fulfill certain requirements to transfer to Cal State L.A.

The plan was developed by Los Angeles Board of Education member Monica Garcia, East L.A. College President Marvin Martinez and Cal State L.A President William Covino.


It will engage students in the community at all stages, including outreach from preschool through high school, to ensure smooth transitions from each level of education to the next, officials said during a news conference at Garfield High.

“I know that when we provide opportunity and service, the world changes for our students,” Garcia said.

The colleges will expand offerings for high school students, allowing them to earn college credit and be introduced to college-level instruction.

East L.A. College plans to expand its course offerings for high school students from the current four to as many as 15 next year. The college expects to enroll up to 400 high school students, Martinez said.

“We’re making a huge commitment and investment because this is what we have to do,” he said.

Once in college, students will benefit from specialized instruction linked to their chosen fields, along with work experience through internships and mentoring, Covino said.


“Once they graduate from college our responsibility does not end,” Covino said. “We want to tell them, ‘Here’s your degree -- and here’s your career.’”

Raul Amaro, 17, a senior at Garfield, got a taste of what to expect when he attends Cal State L.A. in the fall while taking a theater class and criminal justice course offered through East L.A. College.

For some students, the program will help ease the seemingly insurmountable path to a degree, Amaro said.

“It gives us hope,” he said. “It provides a smooth transition to Cal State L.A.”