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Para Los Niños Promotes Economic Advancement for 2,000 Young Adults


[The following mid-year update was written by the organization and then sent to us for further sharing.]

YouthSource: Securing Economic Advancement through Education is a project of Para Los Niños Youth Workforce Services to re engage low-income, BIPOC youth in school and the workforce to set them on a path to economic independence and sustainability. In Los Angeles, the rate and number of disconnected youth has increased significantly since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, 12.9% of 16 to 24-year-olds living in L.A. County were not engaged in school or the workforce. With support from LA2050, the Goldhirsh Foundation, and the Hilton Foundation, Para Los Niños aims to reverse the trend, providing Angelenos ages fourteen to thirty with comprehensive academic and occupational supports, focusing on drop-out recovery and prevention, college access, college persistence, and vocational training.

Para Los Niños (PLN) Youth Workforce Services (YWS) operates two YouthSource Centers—one in Central L.A. and one in Northeast L.A.—to provide academic, career service, case management, and supportive services to close to 2,000 youth ages fourteen to thirty each year. In particular, the YouthSource program provides disconnected youth with dropout prevention and recovery services to help students earn a high school diploma or equivalent credential and enter post-secondary education or the workforce.

Present Impact

During the first half of the grant term, 511 youth ages sixteen to twenty-four have been active in the YouthSource program. Eighty-seven youth have enrolled in vocational training, including programs for automotive technicians, medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, cosmetologists, barbers, and phlebotomists. In addition, nearly seventy students are working through the YouthSource college access curriculum, which provides tools and resources to help high school students graduate and transition to post-secondary degree programs. In November, PLN took students interested in attending Cal State LA to Golden Eagle Fest, where they had the opportunity to tour the campus; meet university faculty, advisors, and current students; get advice from admissions and financial aid staff; and receive early admission decisions. Twelve PLN youth have been admitted to Cal State LA for fall 2024!
One hundred percent of YWS college students are first-generation college students living below the federal poverty level. As part of the YouthSource program, PLN college and career advisors check in with sixty-five current college students at least twice a month to promote college persistence. PLN advisors offer students social emotional support, employment services, and linkages to support services. College students also have an opportunity to attend bi-weekly workshops focused on college success and career readiness. One hundred percent of PLN youth who enroll in higher education receive assistance from PLN submitting college and financial aid applications. This year, PLN has already helped fifty-four youth submit FAFSA applications; the remaining students have appointments with their PLN advisors and will submit FAFSA applications before the deadline in May.

In concert with the YouthSource program, young adults enrolled in PLN Youth Workforce Services receive myriad opportunities to gain practical work experience. This year, 566 PLN youth are receiving paid internships of 120 to 1,150 hours for a total of 66,054 hours of paid work experience and $1,116,312 in wages. In addition, fifty youth are providing 400 hours of service at local non-profit organizations and schools as part of the L.A. mayor’s office Angeleno Corps. In October, seventeen Angeleno Corps members attended a PLN-sponsored event at Sony Studios in Culver City, where they toured the studios and heard from a panel of Sony professionals.

As part of PLN’s LA2050 project, YWS is also formalizing its YWS alumni program. PLN has developed a roster of over 400 former youth who may still be eligible for PLN programing. Alumni are now receiving regular communication regarding career opportunities and alumni engagement events. As a result, fourteen alumni have re-enrolled in the YWS paid internship program; and eight alumni are participating in a state peer certification program that will enable them to work with and mentor current YWS youth.

Future Work

Para Los Niños is excited to continue its work to secure economic advancement for young Angelenos over the next 6 months. YWS staff particularly look forward to a spring culmination event for high school seniors, where graduating seniors celebrate their achievements with peers, family, and friends; announce their college of choice; and receive a college sweatshirt and dorm supplies.

AuthorPara Los Niños