Boyle Heights to Get Millions to ‘TRANS4M’

Grammy award winner will.i.am makes the announcement at Roosevelt.

By EGP News Report

Just two months after announcing plans to start a car company, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas was at Roosevelt High School Wednesday to join in the announcement of a major financial investment in the Boyle Heights community.

The donation comes in the form of a multi-million dollar investment from banking giant Chase, aimed at “transforming” the East Los Angeles neighborhood.

With students from Roosevelt looking on, Chase executives and will.i.am announced they have entered into a partnership that will focus on “providing social services to address Boyle Heights’ particular needs, including education, jobs and job training, health, home ownership and green space.”

Chase is backing the TRANS4M Boyle Heights collaboration with a $1 million grant to the i.am.angel foundation, one of the groups in the public-private partnership.

Chase and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation have also committed an additional $7 million to be paid out over the next three years to other nonprofit members of the collaboration, including Roosevelt High School.

EGP photo by Fred Zermeno will.i.am at Roosevelt High School on Monday

One of the goals of the collaborative effort is to raise graduation rates, an ongoing problem at Roosevelt and other eastside schools, and the school district as a whole.

“Boyle Heights is where it all began for me,” said will.i.am, who grew up as William Adams and lived in Estrada Courts.

“My foundation is focused on education, opportunity and inspiration.” The gift from Chase and its larger commitment will help in all of those areas, he said.

The unemployment rate in Boyle Heights is 17.1 percent, almost 5 points higher than the rest of the county. Only 31 percent of the adults in the eastside community hold a high school diploma, and only 5 percent have graduated from college, according to a statement from Chase announcing the donation.

The densely populated eastside community is over 95 percent Latino, with a large number of renters. Increasing homeownership is one of the goals of Trans4M Boyle Heights. Chase also announced plans to open a Home Ownership Center to “support residents with homeownership challenges.’

Robert McInerney, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, said ‘Los Angeles is our home,” and noted that the bank has a “vested interest in helping rebuild communities here like Boyle Heights that are struggling,” since this is where millions of its customers and employees live.

McInerney said Chase has also committed to work with other members of the group, by offering jobs and internships, as well as their financial support.
“The unique collaboration has the promise to put the neighborhood back on a stable and prosperous path,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was also at announcement event.

Councilman Jose Huizar said the new investment, which comes on top of “more than $2 billion in public in recent years,” is a model of public-private partnership that can result in “lasting change,” and should be a model for other large cities.

McInerney said that by working with will.i.am, “we think we can affect real change for the families who live here.”

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March 29, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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