The Board of Supervisors have approved programming and service contracts with the Los Angeles Trade and Technical College (LATTC), and with New Earth, a community-based organization, to advance the vision of converting a closed juvenile detention camp into an innovative, residential career training center for young adults.
LATTC is the oldest of the nine public two-year colleges in the LA Community College District and will provide training and certificates for construction programs.
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 create the educational programming.
The Ahmanson Foundation, in an unprecedented partnership with the County, is contributing $892,000 to remodel the facility with a college campus feel. They will also be partnering with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) who will provide mentors and program support.
Over the past 18 months, the LA County Probation Department has been collaborating with other 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.
“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.”
Supervisor Kuehl, who authored the original motion to convert Camp Gonzales into a residential, vocational training program noted, “I’m truly happy to see LA County take another important step in transforming our approach to juvenile justice… 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.”
Supervisor Solis, who co-authored the original motion noted, “the Residential Vocational Training Facility that will replace Camp Gonzalez is an important step forward for the County… preparing our young people for jobs and providing them with the intensive support and services they need to succeed.”
LA County Probation Chief Terri L. McDonald pointed out, “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… 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.