Entertainer and philanthropist will.i.am on Thursday announced a major grant from the 100,000 Strong Foundation to his i.am.boyle heights center to create new opportunities for area students to learn Mandarin and study in China.
The $100,000 contribution is part of an ongoing effort by the 100,000 Strong Foundation – launched by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last month – to strengthen the US-China relationship by expanding and diversifying the number of Americans studying Mandarin and studying in China. will.i.am announced the 100,000 Strong Foundation gift along with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and students from the Boyle Heights neighborhood of LA at the i.am.angel Foundation’s 2013 TRANS4M conference at the California Science Center.
“The partnership between i.am.boyle heights and the 100,000 Strong Foundation will give kids from my neighborhood the opportunity of a lifetime,” will.i.am said. “Learning Mandarin and studying in China can be transformative. I am so grateful to the 100,000 Strong Foundation for helping open doors for these bright and talented young people.”
Over the next two summers, the 100,000 Strong Foundation gift will send at least 10 students from Theodore Roosevelt High School to China through Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA). It will also help create an after-school Mandarin language program at the i.am.boyle heights center.
“We are thrilled to be working with will.i.am and the i.am.angel Foundation to create new opportunities for Boyle Heights students to learn Mandarin and study abroad,” said Carola McGiffert, president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation. “The 100,000 Strong Foundation knows that the future of the US-China relationship rests with our students. They are the leaders of tomorrow who will solve our greatest global challenges.”
Said Mayor Villaraigosa: “The city of LA is proud to be a partner of the 100,000 Strong Foundation and to help carry out its very important mission. And as a Boyle Heights native, today’s announcement is particularly special. The opportunities created through 100,000 Strong and i.am.angel will arm these students with the cultural understanding, language skills and global experiences to chart our future.”
The 100,000 Strong Foundation works with the Confucius Institute at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), which will provide Mandarin language and martial arts classes two days a week starting in September and will offer additional opportunities for Boyle Heights students to study in China under the Chinese government’s Bridge Scholarship program.