LOS ANGELES — Cal State Los Angeles has joined a program under Verizon Innovative Learning to provide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences to middle school boys in East Los Angeles.
Students will participate in summer intensive courses on the university campus to learn skills such as coding, three-dimensional printing, robotics and entrepreneurship that will help to make them competitive for future careers in a digital economy.
Throughout the 2017-18 school year, students will return to Cal State L.A. each month, for mentoring and continued training in STEM subjects. Through the partnership, Cal State L.A. was awarded a $400,000 grant.
The Verizon Innovative Learning program is a first-of-its-kind, two-year initiative that partners with historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions to bring STEM skills to minority, middle school young men. This year, the program has expanded to 16 universities nationwide.
“This partnership with Verizon will allow us to reach younger students and spark their interest in STEM subjects,” Cal State President William A. Covino said. “Our participation in the Verizon Innovative Learning program underscores our role as a leader in STEM instruction. Cal State L.A. graduates are changing the face of STEM professions across the country.”
The National Science Foundation has noted Cal State LA’s success in graduating students of color who go on to earn a Ph.D. in STEM fields.
“Cal State L.A. is a perfect partner because of its longstanding ties with the community of East Los Angeles,” said Octavio Villalpando, Cal State L.A.’s vice provost for diversity and engaged learning and chief diversity officer for Academic and Student Life. “Through service-learning classes, Cal State L.A. students contribute hours of service to local schools and community-based organizations. We are a part of this community and we know it well.”
The Verizon Innovative Learning program will benefit students in sixth and seventh grades from five middle schools: Belvedere, Brooklyn Avenue-SPAN, Griffith, Hollenbeck and Stevenson.
The schools are part of the GO East L.A. initiative, a joint effort of the Los Angeles Unified School District, East Los Angeles College and Cal State L.A. The initiative was created in 2014 to promote greater academic outcomes for all East L.A. students by focusing on college awareness, preparation, completion, and career readiness.
Bianca Guzman, director of GO East L.A., will coordinate the Verizon program at Cal State L.A. with support from university faculty members Mauricio Castillo, Claudia Kouyoumdjian, and Jessica Morales-Chicas.
The middle school students who satisfactorily complete the program are eligible to receive a free tablet from Cal State L.A. They are also eligible to receive college course credit, and an opportunity to sign up for an apprenticeship certificate program to create computer applications.
“Through this program students will learn that they can become creators of technology,” said Jose A. Gomez, executive vice president for Cal State LA. “One of these kids is the next Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos, or Steve Jobs.”