California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) is one of the higher education partners in the recent designation of South Los Angeles as a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “Promise Zone,” which opens the door for communities to work more closely with the federal government to help improve educational and economic opportunities and reduce poverty.
South L.A. is now one of 13 urban Promise Zones in the nation, and Los Angeles is the only city to have two designations within its boundaries. The new zone’s boundaries include approximately 198,000 residents living in parts of Crenshaw, Leimert Park, Exposition Park, University Park, Historic South-Central, Central-Alameda, Florence and downtown Los Angeles.
The South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z), as the South L.A. Promise Zone is called, is a collaborative of government, business, labor, education, and non-profit partners that have committed to implementing strategies that will revitalize the region. As a result of the award, these agencies will receive technical assistance and priority access to certain federal funding opportunities, which will bring greater resources to residents, 46 percent of whom live below the federal poverty line, and move them to living wage jobs and career pathways.
The designation will allow SLATE-Z participants to gain preferences for highly competitive federal grants,” said William Franklin, vice president for Student Affairs at CSUDH. “Moreover, a Promise Zone designation has the capacity to stimulate job growth, help to reduce crime, and equally as important for CSUDH, it leverages the expansion of K-12 and post-secondary educational opportunities.”
Since education is still viewed by experts as the surest path to upward mobility, it will play a significant role in the partnership. In South L.A. only 52 percent of residents older than 25 have less than a high school education, while only 9 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
CSUDH along with UCLA and USC have joined with SLATE-Z’s lead agency Los Angeles Trade Technical College as the higher education partners in the collaboration.
“For CSU Dominguez Hills, at the core of our strategic plan is student success. We know that we cannot begin to focus on student success when students get to us as freshmen or transfers. It must begin earlier, and this partnership will help ensure that happens,” said Franklin. “It is only through this type of collaboration and strategic coordination that we will achieve our individual and collective goals to drastically improve the lives of many youth and families in the community.”
South L.A. won the Promise Zone designation in the third and final round of the competition. The plan received backing by U.S. Congresswomen Karen Bass (CA-37th District and CSUDH alumna) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40th District), and garnered strong support from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Curren Price.