Unveiling the New i.am College Track Center in Boyle Heights

By on October 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Leave your thoughts
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College Track and the i.am.angel Foundation unveil a state of the art after-school center in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.

Chinese language, robotics, poetry among many enrichment classes provided to Roosevelt High School students in unique free offering with support from will.i.am’s i.am.angel Foundation, California Endowment, and Chase

Los Angeles, October 15, 2013 — College Track, a national college completion program that empowers students from underserved communities to reach their dream of a college degree, and will.i.am, President and Founder of the i.am.angel Foundation, unveiled a unique, state of the art after-school facility in the Boyle Heights City Hall today.

At i.am College Track, more than 100 Roosevelt High School students receive academic and mentoring support starting in their freshman year of high school through their college graduation. Participating students have the opportunity to learn a variety of topics including Chinese culture and language, robotics, competitive math, photography, songwriting, spoken word, Chicano studies, advanced vocabulary and literature studies. The after-school program is designed to help students from underserved communities who are motivated to earn a college degree but lack the resources and support they need to do so.

“College Track believes that through compassionate partnerships, dedicated, and comprehensive services, we can have a tremendous impact on a student’s life,” said College Track’s CEO, David Silver. “When we empower our students to earn a college degree, we start a chain-reaction that begins with them but spreads to their classmates, their siblings, and their future children—who will be three times more likely to go to college because their parents did. This ripple effect changes lives, communities, and it will change our world.”

For 16 years, College Track has demonstrated a tremendous record of success and is now active in six cities. More than 90 percent of seniors are admitted to four-year colleges, with 54 percent graduating in six or more years. Eighty-five percent of students are first generation college students.

“My oldest sister is twenty-two and she’s going to community college because she didn’t have anyone to help guide her,” said i.am College Track sophomore, Lucero. “When she heard that I had applied to the program, she encouraged me to take advantage of it because she knew it would make a world of difference, not only for me, but for our entire family.” Lucero’s dream is to graduate from UCLA. She is determined to become a role model for her family and for her community. “I want to change the way everyone thinks about Roosevelt High School, Boyle Heights, and the people who come from here.”

The free program, which launched last year in portable buildings on Roosevelt’s campus, is now located on the completely renovated third floor of the Boyle Heights City Hall, at 2130 East 1st Street. Councilmember José Huizar led the $22 million effort by the City of Los Angeles to renovate and establish the Boyle Heights City Hall.

“Bringing the i.am College Track program to our newly opened Boyle Heights City Hall makes perfect sense,” said Councilmember Huizar.“Our goal is to make sure this City Hall serves all the needs of the Boyle Heights community, and I can think of no greater need than empowering our youth to aspire to and work toward a college education. The i.am College Track program will change lives for the better in this community, and we welcome them to their new home.”

Formerly known as the Chicago Plaza building, Boyle Heights City Hall was once home to the Community Service Organization – a place that mobilized a whole generation of men and women to fight for their rights and produced great leaders like Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and former U.S. Rep. Edward Roybal, the first Mexican-American to be elected to political office.

“The 500 scholars we’re growing to serve will follow in the footsteps of former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilmember Huizar, and will.i.am and return to Boyle Heights after college, ready to make incredible change as leaders in this community,” declared Site Director, Tina Kim.

According to the 2010 US Census, one-third of Boyle Heights’ residents 25 years old or older have a high school diploma, and only 5 percent of these residents have a college degree. Additionally, close to 50 percent of students from Boyle Heights never complete high school.

“Two years ago when I reached out to Laurene Powell Jobs to bring i.am College Track to my hometown of Boyle Heights, I saw a need to change the culture of education so that every child can succeed and thrive in school,” said will.i.am. “i.am College Track scholars have become the ambassadors of Roosevelt High School and are showing the world what can be achieved when you combine inspiration with opportunity. These students are driving positive transformation in Boyle Heights and will be the leaders and job creators of tomorrow.”

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The i.am College Track location was launched at the suggestion of will.i.am, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmember José Huizar.

It is supported with grants from the i.am.angel Foundation, The California Endowment, the Wasserman Foundation and Chase. “We are thrilled to be a co-investor and partner in the College Track Program, where young people can reclaim hope, promise, and opportunity,” announced Dr. Robert Ross, President and CEO of the California Endowment.

Chase is College Track’s first corporate sponsor in California and serves as the Lead Corporate Financial Services Partner. “At Chase, we believe in investing in our future,” California Regional Manager Andy Carney said. “We are inspired by these students. They are our future employees and clients. We are excited to work with College Track to help them achieve their goals.”

The Boyle Heights’ i.am College Track location is the sixth site opened by the non-profit. Based in Oakland, College Track also operates programs in East Palo Alto, San Francisco, Oakland, New Orleans and Colorado, serving more than 1,600 students across the country. A student that completes the College Track high school program receives the equivalent of one additional year of high school. College Track’s 50 percent college graduation rate is 2.5 times the national average for low-income students (19.5%).

About College Track College Track is a national college completion program that empowers students from underserved communities to reach their dream of a college degree. Our mission is to close the achievement gap and create college-going cultures for students who are historically and currently underrepresented in higher education. We work closely with our students with after-school programming and college coaching from the summer before ninth grade through college graduation. We currently serve over 1,600 high school and college students in East Palo Alto, Oakland, San Francisco, New Orleans, Colorado, and Los Angeles. Over the last 16 years, more than 90 percent of seniors are admitted to four-year colleges, with 54 percent graduating in six or more years. Eighty-five percent of students are first generation college students.