LEVELING THE FIELD: LAUSD to launch BioInnovation Lab in 12 South L.A. schools

Wave Staff Report

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Twelve area schools have been selected by the Los Angeles Unified School District to take part in the launch of the South Los Angeles BioInnovation Lab next month.

The LAUSD school board approved spending $205,000 to start the program through a unique partnership between the 10th Council District, the Humanizing Education for Equitable Transformation (HEET) Community of Schools, a special initiative of LAUSD to promote school-based equity; and Biocom California Institute, a leading advocate for California’s life science sector.

The program will run from January to through August, reaching approximately 1,400 elementary and secondary students at Tom Bradley Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, 42nd Street Elementary, 59th Street Elementary, 74th Street Elementary, YES Academy, Audubon Middle School, Mann UCLA Community School, Dorsey High School, Crenshaw High School View Park Preparatory and Whitney Young High School.

“We look forward to the partnership with Biocom California Institute to support experiential learning in the HEET Community of Schools,” LAUSD board member George McKenna said. “The opportunity to apply classroom learning in real time will only add value for our students and their learning outcomes.”

The SOLA BioInnovation Lab aims to empower, engage and expose Black and other historically underrepresented students to career pathway opportunities in bioscience fields.

Participating schools will receive research-grade equipment, supplies and cutting-edge professional development to accelerate bioscience learning.

“As an organization dedicated to developing a diverse and strong pipeline of talent for the state’s life science industry, Biocom California Institute is incredibly proud to partner with the newly launched SOLA BioInnovation Lab and the HEET Community of School,” said Karmin Noar, executive director of Biocom California Institute. “This meaningful initiative to promote and train teachers will strengthen the learning experience for students with hands-on instruction, special equipment and expert instruction.

“Providing Black and underrepresented students with the opportunity to acquire skills necessary to pursue a career in life sciences is part of our core mission and will provide a permanent foundation for successful and rewarding careers in the rapidly growing life science industry in Los Angeles.”

As part of the SOLA BioInnovation Lab, students will connect with nationally recognized life science experts and diverse industry professionals, participate in college and career readiness opportunities in bioscience and gain access to hands-on project learning experiences, ranging from sea urchin fertilization to chromatography.

“To move the needle in Black student achievement, we must implement innovative solutions that close racial equity gaps in science learning and accelerate career pathway opportunities in the life sciences,” said Porsha Cropper, senior deputy of education, workforce development and legislation for the 10th Council District. “The SOLA BioInnovation Lab meets that challenge by equipping Black and historically underserved students with the resilience and skills to thrive in high-demand industries within the bioscience sector.”

“I am extremely excited to be partnering with BioInnovation Lab as an enhanced enrichment opportunity for my students to explore bioscience,” said Deanna Hardemion, principal at Audubon Middle School. “After observing this program in action, I am looking forward to my students participating in these unique labs that are deeply engaging, hands-on investigations that encourage them to collaborate with peers and connect content knowledge to real life.

“This will positively impact my students’ experience in school as they are supported to learn organically,” she added.

According to Biocom’s 2021 California Impact Report, the bioscience industry directly employs 46,779 people with annual average earnings of $96,642 in the city of Los Angeles. The report projects that the sector will grow at the intersections of technology, health, and wellness, creating more family-sustaining careers across multiple skill sets and educational attainment levels across the city.