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Mayor Villaraigosa Pledges 200 Young Leaders Into Community Service With "City Year"

By David Markland
Published: Friday, October 01, 2010, at 01:24PM
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the City Year kickoff at City Hall. David Markland [Flickr]

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa leads 200 new core members of City Year in a pledge to service.

Two hundred young men and women swarmed onto the south lawn of City Hall this morning in a dancing parade of yellow and red jackets. The small army then took predetermined positions, lining up around an audience and on the steps behind a podium where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa later led them in a pledge of service to the children and communities of Los Angeles.

Boston based City Year is a national program that pairs enthusiastic youths aged 17 - 24 as mentors and tutors in schools with disproportionately high dropout rates. Los Angeles joined in 2007, and is considered to be the fastest growing of the program's 20 cities.

L.A.'s "core members," as they are referred to, will be spread among 14 primary and high schools, including Malabar Elementary and Stevenson Middle Schools in Boyle Heights, and the John Liechty Middle School in Westlake. The service term run for ten months, with members receiving a stipend and, after 1700 of full time service, a grant to further their education. Los Angeles members also receive a Metro pass.

On Saturdays, City Year members will bring local school students to perform community service across the city. In past years, they've made and passed out blankets at a Skid Row shelter, and held peace marches Downtown.

Throughout the proceedings, they stood with perfect posture, answering to a speakers question of, "Are you ready?" with a unison, "City Year's always ready!" When individuals associated with specific schools would be called upon, they'd reply in coordinated shout outs with a hybrid militaristic/pep squad flair.

Also present to congratulate the new City Year members and applaud the program were John Deasy, Deputy Superintendant of LAUSD, and City Controller Wendy Greuel.

Downtown residents may have seen them training for today's drills in Pershing Square over the past few weeks, standing out in their yellow jackets. Across the country, the jackets are uniformly red, but due to the color's association with gangs Los Angeles and San Jose programs have gone with yellow.

For more on City Year's Los Angeles program, visit their blog.

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