Long Beach City College and the University of Southern California have partnered to help young people with gang associations attend and complete college.
February 21, 2022
Long Beach City College and the University of Southern California are launching a new program focused on increasing college access for young people who have been associated with gangs.
The goal of the program, which will start this summer, is to help up to 300 prospective college students with gang connections enroll and succeed at Long Beach City College, offering them a series of supports over the course of three years to guide them from enrollment to a certificate or degree or enable them to transfer to a four-year university.
“I’m hoping if we’re able to touch the lives of, let’s say, hypothetically, 200 people, we can help change the lives of a generation of people,” said Adrian Huerta, an assistant professor of education at USC and one of the founders of the program. “That’s 200 less people who … [will] hopefully be less involved in the adult or juvenile justice system. It can have a cascading effect in a way that it will be really transformative for so many people.”
The program will help participants, ages 16 through 24, through the enrollment process, provide them with career advising and specialized mental health counseling, assign coaches to mentor them, connect them to campus resources, and help them secure internship opportunities.
“We’re focused on the whole educational journey,” said Mike Muñoz, superintendent-president at Long Beach City College.
The goal is also to create relationships across racial and ethnic groups in the Long Beach area to build bridges between communities sometimes alienated from each other by gang violence. Long Beach is home to multiple racial and ethnic enclaves, including sizable Black, Latino, Samoan, Cambodian and Filipino communities.