2022 Grants Challenge

Sail the Course Youth Diversion Program

Los Angeles Maritime Institute's Sail the Course Program utilizes maritime skills training aboard a sailing tall ship to encourage social-emotional maturation, an empowered self-identity, and optimistic outlook in system-impacted young offenders. Forty-five hand-selected 11-16 yo youth participate in a series of four day sails customized with activities that teach strategies to strength mental health, communication, and competency, designed and led onboard by experts in positive social-emotional facilitation and juvenile diversion mediation.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South Bay

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Heartbreakingly, many youth are subjected to disproportionate challenges as a result of social, cultural, and economic stressors, resulting in behavioral and mental presentations that jeopardize their participation in meaningful academic, home, and societal experiences. These system-impacted youth face an uphill battle in acquiring the life skills and support that keep them on course to mature, stay safe, and develop into productive members of society. For some, damaging mental distortions and/or behaviors have lead to criminal or serious school violations, only decrease the likelihood these young offenders will attend school, graduate, and avoid a life subjected to drugs and incarceration without some form of intervention.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

It is well established that experiential and active-learning educational programs lead to positive youth development and improved learning. Furthermore, studies show participation in outdoor education programs leads to less aggression, better emotional regulation, higher cognitive function, more adept social skills, involved environmental stewardship, health benefits, improved classroom engagement, increased academic achievement and motivation, and a broadening of career interests. LAMI's Sail the Course incorporates all of these positive attributes while also being specifically tailored to teach strategies to strength mental health, communication, and competency. forty-five youth between the ages of 11 and 16 will be selected by a juvenile diversion mediator to participate in the program. Each young person will participate in four 3-hour sails over their time in the program, each sail with 15 participants, a small group so that instruction can be individualized. The activities of each sail will be specifically and intentionally created to build on past learning and advancing knowledge and maturation. Education Crew will be trained in specialty areas of instruction through workshops prior to the participant sails. Infused throughout the sails are intentional encouragement on self-discovery, peer-relatedness, and communication. Ultimately it is the sailing and the sea that creates an applied and emotional connection to learning for the students and institutional memory.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Los Angeles County will be introduced to a new model intervention program for young offenders that uses somatic active learning through a challenging but safe medium of tall ship sailing. Sail the Course will be further proof that the investment in an at-risk child through an immersive experiential program will be far more valuable than the potential cost that is attributed to an unproductive citizen or one whose future includes incarceration or societal harm. For these youth and their radius of contact, including family and community, a child kept on course for a more healthy development and future, the outcome is priceless - including graduating from school and joining the workforce.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

LAMI will work with consulting experts to create a pre and post survey to gauge participant attitudes and understanding of present and future self reflections, perceptions of others and differing environments, and projections and conclusions of the program. We will also track longitudinal impacts from the program on the participants, including but not limited to school attendance, academic performance, support received, and future activities.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 45

Indirect Impact: 1,000