By Mayor Eric Garcetti
There’s no doubt about it: we are turning the page on a new year at a tough moment. It’s been nearly two years since COVID-19 first hit our city and we are facing a surge of infections brought on by a contagious new strain of the virus.
We need to call again on the strength and compassion that define us in this City of Angels and stop the spread by masking up, washing our hand, and getting the vaccine and booster.
As we ride out this storm, I hope Angelenos can draw strength and pride in how we met this past year — and feel a sense of optimism about the future.
One place that optimism lives is in the 400 members of Angeleno Corps, a program we launched last month to give young people an opportunity to earn job experience and a paycheck … and make a difference in their community.
Some of our Angeleno Corps members have lost loved ones to COVID-19 or struggled to navigate staying in school with work and taking care of children, younger siblings or sick family members. Others have a history of homelessness or have spent time in foster care or the justice system.
No matter their individual story, all 400 of these 18- to 24-year-olds share something in common: a passion to serve their communities and help them to recover and thrive.
Through this program, they will contribute 120,000 hours of meaningful, paid work focused on four areas: education and child care, health equity and environmental justice, closing the digital divide, and providing immigrant families with assistance.
Angeleno Corps members will make a huge difference in the communities hardest hit by COVID-19, helping to make them healthier, stronger and better connected. And they will gain skills and experience that will put them on a path to success and, perhaps, a career of service.
Best of all, the program is just one of many investments that the city is making in young people this year — from our new Youth Development Department, which is tasked with coordinating youth programs, to a new pilot to pay 1,000 young Angelenos to tutor their brothers and sisters who struggled with distance learning and need to catch up.
I am so proud of L.A.’s extraordinary young people, who I see as not just the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today.
That’s why we have quadrupled the number of youth jobs in this city since I took office. That’s why we are home to the country’s largest free community college program. And L.A.’s College Promise does not just cover tuition at our community colleges — it comes with supportive counseling, tutoring and mentoring, a free laptop and free public transportation.
All of these programs demonstrate our commitment in Los Angeles to building a more just and equitable city. They represent an investment in the aspirations and abilities of all our children. By making sure all our young people have the tools they need to succeed, we are making a down payment on the future and accelerating our recovery from a devastating pandemic.
I can’t think of a better way to greet the new year.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Community Report” column runs monthly in The Wave.