Reliable and affordable broadband internet access can serve as an engine of economic mobility, educational opportunity, civic engagement and better health care. As our reliance on the internet continues to grow, we are also leaving behind many individuals and communities who have limited or no internet access at all. It is time we eliminate the digital divide.
In August, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved funding for the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation and UNITE-LA to serve as the CPUC's Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortium leads for the L.A. region. Launched earlier this year, the LA Digital Equity Action League (LA DEAL), is an inclusive and collaborative regional broadband consortium employing a community-driven process to assess and address the broadband infrastructure, affordability and adoption gaps that exist in communities across the L.A. region. We can't fully meet our L.A. Compact goals if we don’t close the digital divide, which is why the Compact is joining forces with the LA DEAL to support this effort.
In L.A. County alone, approximately 283,000 households don't have access to quality internet services as reported in the American Community Survey.
LA DEAL is co-led by LAEDC and UNITE-LA, along with a diverse and unprecedented coalition of more than 100 partners from education, government, business and nonprofit sectors working together as community-driven stakeholders committed to eliminating the digital divide in LA County.
Since April, LA DEAL has held a series of sector based convenings and five monthly task force meetings around infrastructure, affordability, digital literacy, devices and policy to understand digital equity challenges within different sectors. L.A. Compact members from the L.A. County Office of Education, L.A. Unified, L.A. Community College District, and Cal Poly Pomona have been involved in the monthly task force meetings, informing the Consortium on the challenges that K-12 and higher education students, families, teachers, and faculty face.
This month the CPUC awarded the LA DEAL a California Advance Service Fund Grant to advance equitable broadband internet service deployment in the LA County region. The LA DEAL Consortium will:
- convene stakeholders from internet service providers (ISP’s), government, business, education, workforce, economic development, health and housing;
- serve as a conduit between L.A. communities, the CPUC, and large and small ISP’s to identify opportunities and barriers to completion;
- pursue additional funding to develop broadband infrastructure; and
- ensure prioritization of broadband deployment in communities with the greatest needs.
In addition to the work specified in the CPUC application, the LA DEAL consortium has active task forces focused on ensuring high-speed internet service rate plans have truly affordable options and are accessible to all, high-quality and culturally appropriate digital literacy is available to all, more people have access to suitable devices to use the internet, and regional policy advocacy centers community voice and digital equity to ensure that L.A. County reaches 100 percent adoption of high-speed internet.
As this work continues, UNITE-LA and LAEDC will work with the L.A. Compact to align efforts and tackle the digital barriers that hinder student achievement and workforce development.
For more information, please contact Amy Cortina Mathias, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, at [email protected].
The L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) recently released its 2020 Impact Report, demonstrating the power and impact of more than 100 partners from public agencies, community-based organizations, foundations, young adults and educational institutions working together to improve education and employment outcomes for transition-age foster youth. Key outcomes from 2020 include:
- 68 percent of foster youth high school seniors completed the FAFSA, an increase from 33 percent
- 866 current and former foster youth participated in a paid work experience through L.A. County’s Youth at Work program, an increase of 15 percent
- OYC Young Leaders successfully advocated for $32.4 million in funding for youth housing and employment programs
Read the full 2020 Impact Report.
A comprehensive community schools model can improve student achievement and well-being. It is a framework that has gained traction across the nation and has placed participating schools in a better position to respond to the ongoing challenges caused by COVID-19. In other words, community schools are a catalyst for change, which is why many stakeholders in L.A. County stand ready to see the model expand in the region. Adopting a countywide, comprehensive community schools model is one of the L.A. Compact’s priority strategies, and we are excited to work alongside our partners to make this happen. We have started the year strong with the region’s first community schools convening, co-hosted by The Greater L.A. Education Foundation and the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and the launch of the selection process to identify L.A. Unified’s second cohort of community schools.
On Jan. 29, The Greater L.A. Education Foundation and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) held its first of several virtual convenings to elevate and expand opportunities for community schools work across L.A. County. The title of the convening - Meeting the Moment: Advancing Equity Through Community Schools - emphasized the important role that community schools play in addressing systemic inequities. L.A. Unified and the L.A. Compact were invited to inform the development of the convening.
Dr. Debra Duardo, L.A. Superintendent of Schools, and Genethia Hudley-Hayes, Education and Social Services Deputy with the Office of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, kicked off the convening with a conversation around the history and future of community schools in the region. Hudley-Hayes shared that she first learned about the value of community schools, especially for marginalized communities, when she was a preschool teacher. She supports a community schools model that focuses on integrated student supports, expanded and enriched learning time, active parent and community engagement and collaborative leadership and practice. She believes we have a shared responsibility to help our students succeed and thrive and pledged to garner the support of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to expand and sustain the community schools movement. Following Duardo’s and Hudley-Hayes’ one-on-one, convening participants learned about leading community school efforts already underway in the region, such as LACOE’s and L.A. Unified’s Community Schools Initiatives.
A few days following the convening, L.A. Unified, with support from UTLA and UNITE-LA, opened its application process for the second cohort of community schools. Schools interested in becoming a community school can apply here until April 9. The district’s Community Schools Steering Committee, which UNITE-LA co-facilitates, will select up to 13 community schools by the end of April. Each school will receive $150,000 for the 2021-22 school year to hire a school coordinator who will work with the school community to conduct a needs assessment and develop an implementation plan. In the following school year, the schools will receive $250,000 to implement the plan developed in year one. The second cohort of schools will join the 17 schools from cohort one in transforming the way they work with families and community partners to provide well-rounded educational opportunities and support for student success. In a few weeks, we will also learn whether L.A. Unified will be a grant recipient of the California Community Schools Partnership Program offered through the California Department of Education. These additional resources would help extend the Community Schools Initiative for another year.
For more information on the L.A. Compact’s Community Schools partnership with L.A. Unified, please contact Carrie Lemmon, Sr. Director of Systems Change Strategy, at [email protected].
The L.A. Compact has long championed the importance of youth jobs programs in providing young adults with early skill- and resume-building work experiences to successfully launch them into the labor force. Now that we are facing the worst economic recession in a century, subsidized jobs will serve as a life-line for thousands of young adults who have been laid off, who live in families who are ineligible for federal relief benefits, and who are struggling to maintain connections to school. At least 14,500 young adults in L.A. County will access a paid work experience this year thanks to budget motions passed recently by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and L.A. City Council that were strongly supported by L.A. Compact partners.
On July 7, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion championed by Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Kathryn Barger to invest $20.7 million in the 2020-21 Fiscal Year for the [email protected] program. The program will provide virtual career exploration and on-site work experiences for at least 10,000 youth ages 14-24. On July 1, the L.A. City Council approved Councilman Curren Price’s plan to reduce the LAPD budget by $150 million and redirect $100 million into communities of color, including an additional $10 million for the annual Hire LA’s Youth program. The city funding augments a previous investment of $2.8 million for the 2020-21 Fiscal Year, enabling at least 4,500 young Angelenos to access subsidized work experiences this year.
When the County’s [email protected] program was slated for severe cuts in May, L.A. Compact partners from the L.A. Workforce Systems Collaborative and the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) rallied to protect investments in youth who have been disproportionately impacted by layoffs due to COVID-19 and will find it even harder to enter the workforce as the economy begins to reopen. Several current and former foster youth who participate in the OYC Young Leaders Program provided public comment at the County Board of Supervisors meeting, speaking to the critical importance of programs like [email protected] that often serve as a young person’s first work experience.
UNITE-LA, convener of the L.A. Compact, and the Alliance for Children’s Rights, convener of the L.A. OYC, have been working closely with City and County partners since May to reimagine the annual summer jobs program in response to COVID-19. In the City of L.A., youth participants will have opportunities to participate in paid virtual activities exploring careers in entrepreneurship through a partnership with L.A. Unified, as well as in STEAM fields through a partnership with UNITE-LA. Most youth will participate in an extended virtual training program utilizing the trauma-informed Transition-Age Youth World of Work curriculum that was developed, piloted and championed by OYC partners. For the first time through a new partnership with ZipRecruiter, youth will receive specialized training in online job search strategies.
L.A. Unified seniors who have not yet completed their credits to graduate will have the opportunity to enroll in a “learn and earn” option that pairs credit recovery with paid work experience. Youth over the age of 18 will still have the opportunity for traditional work experiences, with appropriate PPE, focused on rebuild and recovery projects. For a complete summary of the reimagined Hire LA’s Youth program for the summer of 2020, click here.
The idea for the L.A. Compact first began to take hold in 2008, just as the country was entering into the worst economic recession since the 1930s. By 2011, the unemployment rate for 20-24 year-olds in L.A. County was 20 percent - double that of the adult workforce. 16-19 year-olds fared even worse at 40 percent unemployment. It took nearly a decade for young adult unemployment to fall to 10 percent.1 All signs indicate that this progress was completely eviscerated over the last four months. Nearly 30 percent of 20-24 year-olds in California who were working before the COVID-19 pandemic filed for unemployment in March and April.2 L.A. Compact partners are working hard to implement lessons learned from the last Great Recession to ensure that young adults are not left behind as our economy recovers.
1All unemployment statistics in this paragraph taken from U.S. Census Bureau (2011, 2018). Employment Status, 2011-2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Retrieved from https://data.census.gov/
2Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. (May 11, 2020). COVID-19 Economic Implications Briefing [PowerPoint slides]. https://laedc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/LAEDC_Economic-Implications-of-COVID-19_2020.04.06-1.pdf