ECC Helping Disadvantaged Youth Through ACES Program
May 12, 2016

ECC Helping Disadvantaged Youth Through ACES Program

LOS ANGELES — Emerald Cities Collaborative's (ECC) commitment to building a sustainable and just economy for the next generation of young people from disadvantaged communities has taken unique form in the Architecture, Construction and Engineering Students (ACES) Pathway Program in Los Angeles, where the Washington, D.C-based nonprofit has a local office. Los Angeles high school students enrolled in the Architecture, Construction and Engineering Students (ACES) Pathway Program get a head start on college and careers.
The ACES Pathway Program is giving more than 170 LA-area high schoolers from diverse backgrounds the chance to explore "STEAM" (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) careers by earning community college credit for related courses and gaining hands-on work experience alongside industry professionals during paid summer internships. The college credits are transferrable to campuses within the California State University and University of California systems, giving the students a head start towards a degree (

Emerald Cities Los Angeles program director Veronica Soto oversees ECC's involvement in the program, which has partnered with local schools, including Alhambra High School, Legacy STEAM High School, Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, San Gabrielino High School, Mark Keppel High School, SIATech Charter, YouthBuild-Boyle Heights and 5 Keys Charter. Participating campuses within the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) include East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles City College and Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

In addition to financial and staff support from Emerald Cities Los Angeles, ACES receives staff support from the LACCD's $6.2 billion Build Program – a community economic development program emphasizing local business and local hire participation – and in-kind support in the form of classroom space at the Boyle Heights Technology YouthSource Center, part of a citywide program offering job skills training, tutoring, college preparation and other services.

ACES creates academic pathways regardless of participants' GPAs and socio-economic challenges by employing a collaborative, proactive case management approach that engages high school principals and teachers, community college faculty and administrators, charter school executive directors and counselors at Boyle Heights Youth Technology Center.

Besides the introductory STEAM-related college courses, field trips to construction sites and universities and work-related seminars prepare ACES students for summer internships with industry partners. To ensure a pathway to union apprenticeship upon high school graduation, students also are enrolled in apprenticeship preparation training conducted by YouthBuild-Boyle Heights, which uses the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) created by the National Building and Construction Trades Council.

"The ACES Program aims to increase the diversity of students pursuing academic pathways in the design and construction disciplines and to develop mentoring between industry professionals and students," Soto observes. "Seminars focusing on topics such as work-readiness and financial literacy gear up ACES students for their summer internship experiences," she adds.