Dolores Mission Breaks Ground on Expansion

August 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Dolores Mission on Gless Street in Boyle Heights is more than just a church and elementary school, it’s a long time institution that serves as a center of community activism on issues ranging from crime and environmental justice, as well as education and spirituality.

Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit group that helps gangs members transition out of the life through job training and other resources, was started at Dolores Mission. Last week, the campus was the launching point for a peace march during the annual observance of National Night Out.

At its core, Dolores Mission is dedicated to improving outcomes for the area’s low-income children. On Monday, the Catholic school broke ground on a new 6,500 sq. ft., two-story school facility, the parish’s pastor, Father Ted Gabrielli, said will open new opportunities to serve more students and lift more families out of poverty.

Students, teachers and friends of Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights help break ground on a new facility to house more students. Los Angeles council man Jose Huizar and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago were among those taking part in the ceremony. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Students, teachers and friends of Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights help break ground on a new facility to house more students. Los Angeles council man Jose Huizar and Assemblyman Miguel Santiago were among those taking part in the ceremony. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

“…This building project becomes a beacon of hope” for the communities we walk with in good times and bad, Gabrielli said during a groundbreaking ceremony attended by members of the parish, students and their families, and local elected officials.

The parish and TK (transitional kindergarten) through 8th grade school is operated by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The school primarily serves families living in the Maravilla, Ramona Gardens and Pico Gardens housing projects that surround the campus. Of those families, nearly 70 percent earn less than $24,000 a year and 94 percent of students qualify for a free or reduced breakfast and lunch program.

The expansion allows the school to open new classrooms for early education. Plans include two new classrooms for transitional kindergarten and kindergarten. There are also talks about a playground, meeting space for parents and youth groups and office space for program administrators. The added space will allow the school to increase enrollment from 250 to 300 students.

“It underlines our belief in the children of this community,” Gabrielli said about the decision to enlarge the school facility. “We are committed to providing a quality education that not only transforms young people’s, but their families also.”

Phase 2 of the project will include renovation of the existing school building to create a library, a music classroom, and adding more technology into each classroom.

“We are serving more children in our community,” Gabrielli said. “It brings good news and hope to more families.”

Los Angeles Launches Project to Help Hard to Employ

September 24, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti and city officials announced Tuesday a five-year, $6 million program to help people who traditionally have a difficult time getting hired because of their background or circumstances.

The Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise, or LA:RISE, program will offer assistance to about 500 people who are traditionally rejected by potential employers as the result of various obstacles, such a past incarceration, homelessness, or they are youth disconnected from traditional social and family environments.

Participants will get a chance to work in a temporary job in which they will get experience, attention from a case manager and job-readiness assessments.

They will also get access to “bridge” employers who have committed to hiring people with non-traditional backgrounds and are willing to help the workers succeed.

Additional services and job-related training will also be provided to participants of LA:RISE.

The program is funded by a $6 million grant from the Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund.

Garcetti said the bridge employer component of the program is “an innovation that promises to provide a particular benefit to those Angelenos who have a history of homelessness.”

“It provides them with more support and training on the job so that they are better able to keep and grow on the job,” he said. “This will result in their being better able to retain and thrive in housing, interrupting the painful and costly cycle of homelessness.”

The program’s launch was also attended by Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles.

Garcetti’s office and the city’s Economic and Workforce Development Department will work with the nonprofit REDF to implement the program.

REDF President Carla Javits said they are committed to fostering more “social enterprise” job environments, a concept in which the human needs in a workplace are prioritized over the profit needs of shareholders.

Javits said this type of job environment is a “proven approach to supporting those facing the greatest barriers to work.”

“These investments reinforce an American ideal that is central to our collective identity and a sense of dignity, hope and belonging – that every person should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination and initiative,” she said.

The potential employers who are partnering with REDF to offer permanent job opportunities to workers include the job placement nonprofit Chrysalis, the Downtown Women’s Center, Homeboy Industries, Goodwill, LA Conservation Corps and Coalition for Responsible Community Development.

Chrysalis CEO Mark Loranger said it has been offering their job placement services for more than 20 years and will do so as a partner with LA:RISE.

“The men and women we serve face multiple barriers to employment,” Loranger said, and their participation in LA:RISE “has the potential to be a game-changer for our clients.”

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