As part of its efforts to reimagine education and increase Black student achievement, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) approved $205,000 to launch the South Los Angeles (SOLA) BioInnovation Lab at 12 schools located in the heart of the Crenshaw District in South Los Angeles.
The SOLA BioInnovation Lab aims to empower, engage and expose Black and historically underrepresented students to career pathway opportunities in bioscience through a unique partnership between the 10th Council District, Humanizing Education for Equitable Transformation (H.E.E.T) Community of Schools, a special initiative of LAUSD to promote school-based equity, and Biocom California Institute, a leading advocate for California’s life science sector.
Black students systematically face a myriad of academic, socio-emotional, and economic challenges that interfere with academic success, particularly in science education. Discrimination, funding inequities, teacher shortages, and low expectations prevent many low-income and underserved students from entering and excelling in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, otherwise known as STEM-related fields. To address these disparities, the SOLA BioInnovation Lab will provide participating schools with research-grade equipment, supplies, and cutting-edge professional development to accelerate bioscience learning.
“We look forward to the partnership with Biocom California Institute to support experiential learning in the HEET Community of Schools. The opportunity to apply classroom learning in real-time will only add value for our students and their learning outcomes,” said LAUSD Board Member Dr. George McKenna.
“To move the needle in Black student achievement, we must implement innovative solutions that close racial equity gaps in science learning and accelerate career pathway opportunities in the life sciences. The SOLA BioInnovation Lab meets that challenge by equipping Black and historically underserved students with the resilience and skills to thrive in high-demand industries within the bioscience sector. I applaud LAUSD and the HEET Community Schools Team for their leadership in advancing the meaningful, equitable change we want and expect to see in the City of Los Angeles,” said Porsha Cropper, Senior Deputy of Education, Workforce Development and Legislation for Los Angeles City’s 10th Council District.
As part of the SOLA BioInnovation Lab, students will connect with nationally recognized life science experts and diverse industry professionals, participate in college and career readiness opportunities in bioscience and gain access to hands-on project learning experiences, ranging from sea urchin fertilization to chromatography.
“We are enthused and unapologetic about this unique opportunity to partner with the SOLA BioInnovation Lab and Biocom California Institute in our efforts to serve our Black students & families in our commUNITY (Hyde Park/ Park Mesa, Baldwin, Leimert, & Southwest Los Angeles) who have been historically underserved, and to eliminate racial equity gaps in Black student achievement, in optimizing learning outcomes to cultivate interest, engagement, and self-efficacy in increasing the number of our Black students pursuing college & career pathways in bioscience (a consistently growing industry directly responsible for many of the medical breakthroughs that have taken the healthcare industry by storm over the past couple decades),” said Dr. Reginald Sample, Administrator, HEET CommUNITY of Schools.
“I am extremely excited to be partnering with BioInnovation Lab as an enhanced enrichment opportunity for my students to explore bioscience. After observing this program in action, I am looking forward to my students participating in these unique labs that are deeply engaging, hands-on investigations that encourage them to collaborate with peers and connect content knowledge to real life. This will positively impact my students’ experience in school as they are supported to learn organically,” said Audubon Middle School & Gifted Magnet Principal, Deanna Hardemion.
According to Biocom’s 2021 California Impact Report, the bioscience industry directly employs 46,779 people with annual average earnings of $96,642 in the City of Los Angeles. The report projects that the sector will grow at the intersections of technology, health, and wellness – creating more family-sustaining careers across multiple skill sets and educational attainment levels across the city.
The program will launch in January 2022 and run through August 2022, reaching approximately 1,400 Black and underrepresented elementary and secondary students throughout South Los Angeles. The schools include Tom Bradley Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, 42nd Street Elementary, 59th Street Elementary, 74th Street Elementary, YES Academy, Audubon Middle School, Mann UCLA Community School, Dorsey High School, Crenshaw High School, View Park Preparatory and Whitney Young High School.