“Achieve LA is about dreams—the dreams of our community, the dreams of our youth and the dreams of our families…”
“We believe that a child growing up in Boyle Heights or South L.A. should have the same access to programs and support as kids in Brentwood or Encino. There’s no limit—if you believe, you can achieve,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the event announcing Achieve LA.
Achieve LA is a new partnership between California State University, Los Angeles and the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. The initiative will leverage existing Cradle to Career Success Initiative programs at four YMCA locations to inform youth about the college admissions process and prepare them to enroll at a university. Youth who participate in the initiative and meet University requirements will be guaranteed admission to Cal State LA.
The mayor was joined at the launch by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, whose 53rd District includes areas that will be served by the initiative; Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez; and YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles President and CEO Alan C. Hostrup.
“Achieve LA is about dreams—the dreams of our community, the dreams of our youth and the dreams of our families,” Gomez said at the Nov. 1 event. “Working with Mayor Garcetti, Assemblymember Santiago and the YMCA family, we will make those dreams a reality through higher education.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Under the initiative, Cal State LA students will mentor and advise youth in the YMCA programs. These students, some of whom attended the news conference, are part of the University’s I Serve LA initiative, which provides thousands of volunteers who serve with community-based organizations across Los Angeles.
“Cal State Los Angeles is not just a great university in the greatest city on the face of the earth, they’re number one—they’re number one for social mobility and economic mobility in the United States of America,” Garcetti said.
“The program will offer teens in our city’s most under-resourced communities, the tools, the support and guidance needed to reach their potential by providing a clear pathway to college,” Hostrup said.
Santiago praised the new initiative and thanked the YMCA and Cal State LA for their commitment to serving youth in Los Angeles. “We know, out of this program, we will ensure that every student that goes through these doors will get a college diploma. Right, kids?” Santiago said to the fifth graders gathered at the event from KIPP LA Prep, a public charter school next door to the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA.
The students responded to Santiago with a resounding, “Yeah!”
As a child growing up in Compton, Jaren Savage participated in programs at the Weingart YMCA Wellness and Aquatic Center. Savage, who recently graduated from high school, plans to study car design in Torino, Italy.
Achieve LA aligns with the mayor’s Los Angeles College Promise and College Corners initiatives, which are creating pathways to higher education and fostering a greater understanding of the college admissions process for all Angeleno families.
Garcetti applauded the new Achieve LA partnership and Cal State LA’s success in transforming students’ lives.
“Cal State Los Angeles is not just a great university in the greatest city on the face of the earth, they’re number one—they’re number one for social mobility and economic mobility in the United States of America,” Garcetti said. “They beat Harvard, they beat Princeton, they beat Stanford, they beat UCLA, they beat USC, they beat Cal. In other words, taking folks who grew up in the bottom quintile and move into the top quintile in this country. In a moment when we are looking for those escalators, we’re looking for those staircases, we’re looking for those opportunities, Cal State LA does that each and every day.”
Photos by J. Emilio Flores