learn / 2021
Find Your Drive, Accelerate Your Future
Acceler8, an innovative new automotive education program, pairs at-risk teens and opportunity youth with volunteer law enforcement officers and automotive professionals, joined by a common passion for automobiles. We support youth at risk for gang and/or juvenile justice involvement in learning skills that prepare them for jobs in the automotive and trades workforce. We seek to secure a stationary garage facility and to build a staff adequate to the ever-expanding demand for our program.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Youth arrests in Los Angeles have affected over 31,000 youth from ages 10-24 since 2016. One of the primary reasons young people become involved with gangs and crime is a lack of positive role models and direction. There is a distinct lack of opportunities for engagement and vocational education for youth that can provide structure. Gangs and crime involvement can then become a substitute for caring adults, addressing low self-esteem, the desire for a sense of belonging and safety or protection. This lack of direction and hopelessness, resulting in juvenile crime involvement, affects not only youth but also the Los Angeles communities in which they reside. A 2016 Los Angeles Times article reports that LA County spends $233,000 per year to hold each youth in juvenile lockup; money much better spent in providing education, hope and direction to assist them in becoming the responsible adults and stable leaders of tomorrow.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Acceler8 counters the influences of gang and crime involvement by providing stable mentorship and education in a growing trade field. Students build skills that will allow them to lift themselves and their families out of multigenerational poverty. Law enforcement officers build supportive relationships with youth and guide them toward success. Acceler8’s classes center on STEM learning via automotive technology, from basic engineering, science and mathematics around the design of engines and drivetrain mechanics to the intricate computers and technology that tie systems together. Students also receive training in career and life skills, including resume and interview classes, dress/image, team building, communication and social skills. Acceler8’s goals for funding are two-fold: 1) To secure and lease a standing garage facility in which to conduct our automotive classes. We have been fortunate to hold classes in some world-class gifted garage spaces, including the Petersen Automotive Museum and Barrus Kustom Motors. As great as this has been for our students, dedicated space would allow us to accommodate more students and to store our tools and vehicles safely, as well as providing a work environment for our Instructors and lead staff. 2) To hire a full time Mechanic Instructor to lead classes each semester, reducing our reliance on the availability of volunteer instructors.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Pilot or new project, program, or initiative
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Acceler8 echoes LA2050’s LEARN goal to allow all residents to contribute their skills, talents, and abilities to society. A study by the Brookings Institute of the at-risk students that we serve acknowledges that just 14% will complete 4-year degrees. They state, “A better approach…would be to develop coherent pathways, beginning in high school, into authentic technical education options.” Our classes provide the opportunity for true economic equity for our students, 95% of whom are persons of color. We anticipate that they will build their skillset and confidence so that they are more empowered and capable of making better decisions for their future. Our vision is contained in the words of a father, who had just been released from prison, approaching us tearfully, “Oh my God, you saved my son’s life. If it wasn’t for this program, he would have ended up in prison like me.” That heartfelt moment is why Acceler8 was created and how we will make Los Angeles a better place.
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 better serve our students.
Which of the learn metrics will you impact?
- Opportunity youth (“Disengaged youth” 16-24 not working or in school)
- Proficiency in STEM