CAMP GONZALES MOVES CLOSER TO TRANSFORMATION INTO INNOVATIVE RESIDENTIAL CAREER TRAINING CENTER
L.A. County Board for Supervisors Approves Contracts with New Earth and LATTC to Serve Young Adults who are Former Probation, Homeless and Foster Youth
LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today approved the program and service contracts to advance the vision of converting a closed juvenile detention camp into an innovative residential career training center for young adults. The Board of Supervisor’s approval solidifies contracts with a local community college and a community-based organization that together will be responsible for the physical upgrades to the facility and the programing and staffing of this groundbreaking program.
Over the past 18 months, the L.A. County Probation Department has been collaborating with other Los Angeles County agencies to convert the recently decommissioned Probation Camp Gonzales into a groundbreaking residential career and educational training center for young men between 18-25 years old. The facility will feature a live-in career training program where the participants, who have formerly been supervised by probation, involved in foster care, and/or are homeless, will have a job waiting for them upon successful completion of the program.
The proposed program at the former Camp Gonzales will include career technical training in the fields of building and construction trades (pre-apprenticeship program) and food service/culinary arts with other wrap-around services such as life skills training and guaranteed job placement. For those who do not have a high school diploma, a fully accredited diploma program will be available.
Los Angeles County Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl who authored the original motion to convert Camp Gonzales into a residential vocational training program noted, “I’m very happy to see L.A. County take another important step in transforming our approach to juvenile justice. At the former Camp Gonzales, we are repurposing a juvenile camp and turning it into a residential training facility that will provide young people with the job skills they need to enter the job market and build productive, fulfilling lives.”
“The Residential Vocational Training Facility that will replace Camp Gonzalez is an important step forward for the County,” said Los Angeles County First District Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, co-author of the original motion. “Youth-centric community organizations, along with County Departments, will guide the implementation of a new model of preparing our young people for jobs and providing them with the intensive support and services they need to succeed. This effort directly links young people with training followed by employment upon completion. This is the County’s commitment.”
The L.A County Probation Department will now enter into contracts with New Earth and the Los Angeles Trade and Technical College (LATTC). New Earth has a track record of helping thousands of young people stay away from gangs and prison and move toward healthier, more successful lives. They will be creating the educational programing and with generous support from The Ahmanson Foundation, will be contributing $892,000 to re-model the facility with a college campus feel.
“This is an unprecedented time in L.A. County’s history, when we can reshape an old narrative of incarceration into a story of transformation, opportunity and hope. New Earth is honored to be a partner in an initiative that symbolizes a new direction for our community,” said Harry Grammer, Founder and President of New Earth.
New Earth will be partnering with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) who will provide mentors and program support. Kent Mendoza, ARC’s policy coordinator notes, “ARC hopes to provide the life skills and mentoring that anyone, especially young people leaving the system, sorely need. We are looking forward to working with New Earth and other community partners to help create a new vision for what it means to support L.A. youth”.
The Los Angeles Trade and Technical College (LATTC) is the oldest of the nine public two-year colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District and will provide the training for the construction programs and certificates.
“LATTC has a long history of providing apprenticeship preparations in the construction industry,” said Larry Frank, President of LATTC. “The youth we train will receive the MultiCore Craft Curriculum certificate required by the trades along with Cal OSHA certificates, hands-on training, physical conditioning and career exploration to prepare them for a future within the construction industry.”
The planning for the project has been and will continue to be a collaborative endeavor led by the Los Angeles County Probation Department. The Chief Executive Office, Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Public Works, Department of Public Social Services, Internal Services Department, Workforce Development Aging and Community Services, Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender, Office of Diversion and Reentry, County Counsel, Department of Public Health, Department of Children and Family Services, Office of Child Protection, and the Department of Human Resources are the County agencies who have committed resources to make this project a reality.
“This public/private partnership and the collaboration between county departments once again demonstrates the impact we have on solving our community’s issues when we all work together”, said L.A. County Probation Chief Terri L. McDonald. “The Board of Supervisors, County CEO, other department heads and I recognize that partnering with community organizations and investing in education and career training is a smart strategy that will help youth develop the skills needed to become the community leaders we know they can be while improving community safety.”
Greg Derisso, a young man who was at Camp Gonzales as a youth said, “I wish that something like this existed when I got out of the camp. I probably would not have gotten locked up again if I had been able to go somewhere that helped me focus, away from the distractions of the neighborhood. It would have been…easier.” Greg is now enrolled in school and receiving career training at New Earth.