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Lost Angels Children's Project Launches Good Life Manufacturing

Posted February 13, 2021 by Lost Angels Children's Project

The Lost Angels Children's Project (LACP) is a nonprofit serving youth in Lancaster facing homelessness and poverty. Since 2014, LACP has offered after school programming to high school students in Lancaster in classic car restoration and industrial arts.

LACP is best known for its annual classic car sweepstakes at the Ventura Nationals when the organization gives away a classic automobile restored by the kids in the afterschool program.

LACP is best known for its annual classic car sweepstakes at the Ventura Nationals

In 2018, LACP opened a silk screen print shop social enterprise to employ youth to make t-shirts and merchandise and promote its in-house brands as well as complete custom t-shirt and apparel orders for outside customers

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With its background in classic cars, vocational training and social enterprise, LACP was perfectly situated to enter the field of workforce development for the Antelope Valley.

Good Life Manufacturing Vocational Training Social Enterprise

In 2020, LACP partnered with the City of Lancaster, Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and America's Job Center (AJCC) to create the Good Life Manufacturing Vocational Training Social Enterprise. The program offers paid vocational training and job experience in Industrial Arts and Manufacturing to transition-age youth (18-25 years old) in Lancaster facing poverty and unemployment.

The program features hands-on training in welding, reading and drafting blueprints, fabrication, power and hand tool use, auto body repair and customization, auto paint & prep, engine assembly/disassembly, automotive electrical, forklift certification, and composites. Youth acquire entry-level aptitude using welding equipment, plasma cutters, drills, drill presses, cold saws, chop saws, grinders, sanders, compressors, air tools, impact guns, brakes, stomp shears, spray paint, and much more. Youth receive six weeks of intensive training and then six weeks of paid job experience building custom furniture and working on cars for actual customers.

Participants also receive soft-skills training and wrap-around supportive services to ensure they are “work ready" and can keep a job once they are hired. Soft skills training includes LACOE's award-winning “Bring Your 'A' Game to Work" instructional course, mock interviews, resume building and other exercises designed to ensure that students understand what to expect, and what will be expected of them, as they enter the workforce.

Supportive services and individualized case management ensure that each student is able to overcome any barriers to employment. Focus areas include GED/Diploma, Driver License and instruction, public benefits assistance, housing, criminal record expungement, child care, reliable transportation, vehicle insurance, health/medical care, and financial and credit counseling and assistance.

Our Progress with Cohort Graduations

First Cohort

The first training cohort of 11 students graduated at the end of July 2020, with a 91% hire rate (10 out of 11 students). We overcame numerous difficulties including a shutdown of our program for several months due to the pandemic. We instituted numerous safety protocols including daily temperature and self-check screenings, personal protective gear (masks and gloves), sanitizing stations, regular deep facility cleanings, social distancing, COVID Rapid Testing and tracing, and other measures.

Second Cohort

Our second training cohort began in October 2020. We added automotive repair and customization, body work and paint, engine assembly, electrical and composites training to the program. Ten students graduate on January 13, 2021, and will begin their job search armed with strong resumes that feature highly transferable skill sets. We are very hopeful for their prospects, and one has already received an offer of employment with Northrop Grumman.

Third Cohort Planning and Preparation

We are conducting outreach to local employers to build and leverage relationships that will strengthen and improve our workforce development efforts. We anticipate increased success in 2021 as we begin the 3rd training cohort on March 1, 2021.

COVID Relief Efforts

During the pandemic and shutdown of our after school and vocational training programs, LACP shifted to offer essential supplies and food to local communities that were experiencing food insecurity, unemployment and severe economic hardship. By partnering with local restaurants and Operation BBQ Relief, LACP was able to deliver over 15,000 meals to hundreds of local families. Our students learned the meaning of community engagement and experienced the joy of giving back to our community during our Winter Food/Toy Drive.

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First Cohort graduates

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Nobody wants to miss forklift training day! Certification adds a highly valued skill to graduates' resumes. Program staff subject trainees to real-life work situations that put trainees' noses to the grindstone, and offer constant opportunities for self-improvement and growth.

Custom furniture made from wood and metal. The First Cohort completed an order of customized furniture including shelving and tables for the City of Lancaster's new Community Center.

Project cars worked on by the Second Cohort. A Mustang and a Chevy.



Individual Stories

Biggest Barrier: A Car & Driver License

One of the biggest barriers faced by participants has been the lack of a car and valid driver's license. The first requirement for any type of employment is showing up. Program graduate and vehicle recipient John W. was hired by Temco Logistics immediately once he had reliable transportation and was able to drive to the interview and then continue driving to work. After working with Temco for a couple of months, John was hired by Northrop Grumman. Good Life Mfg. donated vehicles to two of its graduates, and repaired the vehicle of a third graduate, who also received driver training instruction and obtained his driver's licenses.

MEET ISAIAS

Isaias came to Good Life Mfg. through L.A. County's GROW program. He previously had experience working as a Plumber's helper and knew he wanted to expand his skills as a welder and fabricator.

During the training program, Isaias worked at Stater Bros. as a grocery clerk, and still managed to get all of his apprenticeship and paid work days at Good Life Mfg. Isaias' hard work paid off when he received an offer of employment from Northrop Grumman, which he accepted. Nothing can hold this guy back!


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TOP GRADUATE VANESSA

Vanessa became one of our most skilled apprentices and graduated at the top of her class. She is still working to complete her GED, and is now working full time as a forklift driver at Floor & Décor in Los Angeles. Program Director Aaron Valencia was proud to hand her a well-earned Completion Certificate, and we are all excited about her future!

MEET ASHLEY AND ROBERT

Ashley A. and Robert C. are enrolled in our current (second) vocational training cohort. Both graduated from Mojave High School. When Robert saw the Instagram post about the Good Life Mfg. vocational training program, he knew his friend would be interested. Ashley grew up around her father's business, The Mojave Desert Auto Repair, and loves working with her hands. She was accepted into the Electrical Engineering program at Cal State University Bakersfield in 2019. When the pandemic hit and all of her classes became zoom classes, she knew she wanted some more hands on training and called us to inquire about the program. Well as soon as we heard what she was all about, we knew we had to get her here. She is top of the class, is still attending her electrical engineering classes AND even has a part time job. Her dream job is to work for Northrup (spoiler alert: Northrup has hired several of our graduates in the past, and loves our program).

We feel very fortunate to be working with this dynamic duo from Mojave and the rest of our exceptional cohort!