LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Find Your Drive, Accelerate Your Future

Idea by Acceler8

Acceler8 is a youth mentorship and automotive workforce training program created by two veteran law enforcement officers, providing social justice and economic equity by guiding, lifting up and preparing youth for self-supporting careers. The Acceler8 program reaches two high-needs groups in Los Angeles: high school students at risk due to their behavior, academic status, or family situation; and "opportunity youth", those ages 16-24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the workforce.


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

Youth Economic Advancement (sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation)

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

South LA

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

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

Education in a trade is one of the best paths out of poverty for low-income youth not interested or able to pursue a college degree. We address the need for workforce training for systems-involved youth and opportunity youth, those outside of college and workforce participation. Primary reasons young people become involved with gangs, drugs and crime are lack of positive role models and support. Gangs provide a substitute for caring adults, addressing low self-esteem, the desire for a sense of belonging, and protection. Acceler8 counters these influences by providing positive role models and helping students build skills in an important trade field. We change the trajectory of these young people's lives by helping them learn valuable skills as well as respect, integrity, self-discipline and responsibility. They benefit greatly when given the opportunity to learn a trade that can support them and their families without requiring a college degree.

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

Acceler8's unique model joins youth at risk for gang, juvenile justice or drug involvement with automotive professionals and volunteer law enforcement officers, linked by a common interest and love for automobiles. Through our Mobile Classroom, Acceler8 brings the tools and equipment needed to locations throughout the County, from the dedicated community garage at Watts Labor Community Action Committee to the illustrious Petersen Automotive Museum's Vault. Classes center on STEM learning via automotive technology, starting with basic engineering around the design of engines and drivetrain mechanics to the intricate computers and technology that tie systems together. Students examine the mathematics that is vital to accurate design and repair. They explore related career opportunities, including automotive racing; arts, media and entertainment; auto construction, engineering and manufacturing; welding; auto body and design; product design; marketing, sales and service; public services, transportation and law enforcement. They are supported in completing school and learning skills that will prepare them for jobs in the automotive and trades workforce. Through a community partnership, we are able to provide scholarships to promising students who complete our classes and wish to pursue further training and certification. New curriculum being added this year will prepare our students for the ASE certification exam and the automotive careers that need and await them.

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

Our intention is to teach job and life skills to youth at risk for negative interactions with law enforcement. Acceler8 will reach 600 youth this year, providing education and support that will change their lives and help build their futures. Acceler8 has been a visionary organization since its inception, and our exponential growth and multiple community partnerships developed since the organization's launch in early 2020 underscores our vision to reach every LA youth at risk or opportunity youth who needs us. Future plans include expansion of our Alternative Fuel Vehicle Training, to address the crisis-level lack of technicians proficient in these more sustainable vehicles. We intend to add a physical headquarters and garage space to our Mobile Classroom within the next two years, to reach greater numbers of students and provide a central "home" to the organization. We are working to increase our staffing capacity, add dedicated job placement assistance for our students, and more.

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

Acceler8 measures the effectiveness of the program by the number of student participants, the continued interest and demand for classes, and their increase in their skills and understanding. We utilize surveys and pre and post questionnaires, allowing us to examine the effectiveness of classroom and teaching material being used. We also observe and document the assistance that our students are using within our program, in order to help build on their future goals so that they may work towards an established career field. Through these measures we gain a better perspective of how our program can continue to improve on curriculum, classroom skills and equipment, to help better serve our students.

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

Direct Impact: 630

Indirect Impact: 2,000