L.A. stories of inspiration and success

L.A. stories of inspiration and success

LARCA Participant Sergio at the Watts Los Angeles WorkSource Center
Sergio grew up in the Mar Vista Gardens housing community and was impacted by the Gang Injunction Curfew Settlement. He used his benefits to invest in his education and earn several degrees. Here is his story in his own words.

“With the support of Watts Los Angeles WorkSource Center and the invaluable services offered by the Los Angeles Reconnections Career Academy 2.0 (LARCA), I embarked on an incredible journey of personal and academic growth. Through (the program) and other community organizations, I have gained the guidance and the resources needed to successfully earn an Associate of Arts in Social and Behavioral Science and a Bachelor's degree in Social Work with a minor in Entrepreneurship, further expanding my knowledge and skill set.

“Recently, I reached a monumental milestone in my educational journey by obtaining a Master's in Social Work from California State University of Los Angeles. Throughout this process, LARCA & HACLA Watts/Los Angeles WorkSource Center has been my steadfast ally, providing invaluable assistance with transportation and procuring essential school supplies, laptops, and textbooks. They also connected me with mentors who offered guidance and support, helping me navigate the challenges of balancing school, work, and personal commitments.

“As a result of my hard work and the support I received, I am now a successful social worker, dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of individuals and families in my community. I have had the privilege of working with various non-profit organizations, providing counseling, advocacy, and resources to those in need. In addition to my professional achievements, I have also become an active member of my community, volunteering my time and skills to mentor at-risk youth and advocate for criminal justice reform. I have become a role model for other individuals impacted by unjust gang injunctions, inspiring them to pursue their dreams and overcome the barriers placed in their path.

“My success story is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the support of organizations like LARCA and HACLA Watts/Los Angeles WorkSource Center. I am proud to be a member of LARCA and grateful for the opportunities they have provided me to break free from the chains of injustice and build a brighter future for myself and my community.

“As I continue my journey, I am committed to paying it forward and helping others overcome their own challenges. I will continue to advocate for fair and equitable policies and work toward a society where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. With the support of organizations like LARCA and HACLA Watts/Los Angeles WorkSource Center, I am confident that together, we can create lasting change and empower individuals to reach their full potential.”

The Los Angeles Gang Injunction Curfew Settlement, also known as the “Rodríguez vs. City of Los Angeles” settlement, is a class action lawsuit that represented 6,000 Angelenos impacted by the creation and enforcement of gang injunctions in the late 1980s and 1990s. As part of the settlement, L.A. City agreed to assist plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit with resources such as educational and vocational training, paid work experience, work clothes, tools, transportation, license and certification support, and related resources. As of June 2023, approximately 1,078 individuals have received job training or education benefits that have allowed them to upskill in their professions or change careers.

L.A. City centralized these services under the Los Angeles Reconnections Career Academy 2.0 (LARCA 2.0), which is administered by EWDD. Class member claim forms will be accepted until March 27, 2024. The last day to receive services under the Jobs and Education Program is June 27, 2024.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of July 3, 2023. Read this issue and more.