California - Pico-Union Independent Study
at Youth Policy Institute
SIATech Pico-Union at Youth Policy Institute
Los Angeles, CA 90006 (Map)
Principal: Dr. Jake Gordon
We are currently enrolling new students. Orientations are held every Tuesday at 5:00 pm and every Wednesday at 10:00 am. An appointment is not necessary. Get more information by completing the Student Interest Form.
SIATech Pico-Union Independent Study at Youth Policy Institute is an exciting partnership between a public charter high school and WIA-funded career training. The result is the chance for young people ages 16-24 to earn their high school diploma and receive career training at the same time.
Classes are held from approximately 8:00 am - 2:00 pm. The morning sessions consist of core academics that prepare students for graduation. The afternoon sessions are student electives where they will take hands-on classes as part of their vocational training in the healthcare and green career fields.
SIATech Pico-Union Independent Study at Youth Policy Institute is a nonprofit public charter high school. The school has an impressive track record for serving students who need to get back on-track to graduation.
Like other public schools, SIATech is free and does not charge tuition. SIATech provides a high-quality academic program that emphasizes core academics, literacy, numeracy, and workplace-readiness skills.
Students learn state content standards through applied academics and software training. SIATech’s flexible program blends computer-assisted and classroom-based instruction customized to meet the needs of the community.
Students can work at an individually appropriate pace to complete coursework and ensure content understanding. Highly-qualified teachers support students to ensure they are on-track to graduate.
The Youth Policy Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides an array of services to the community. The L.A. Reconnections Career Academy Initiative reaches out to 16-24 year olds who have dropped out of high school.
LARCA focuses on vocational training in the healthcare and green career fields. Specifically, LARCA provides subsidized training to become Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA); Home Health Aides (HHA); and Solar Panel Installer. LARCA provides paid internships and job placement support through established relationships with healthcare providers and community partners.
Due to the partnership with LARCA and Youth Policy Institute, SIATech Pico-Union students meet the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) income eligibility requirements.
Dr. Jake Gordon became principal of the SIATech Pico-Union school site in 2013. Dr. Gordon brings a wealth of experience with the SIATech program. Dr. Gordon has been a social science, creative technology, and senior projects teacher at the SIATech Long Beach site. He was recognized as an Employee of the Year at the Long Beach site and received the SIATech Leadership Employee of the Year award for his work in Los Angeles. Prior to joining SIATech, Dr. Gordon worked as a history teacher at a high school in San Jose with a predominately at-promise population.
SIATech Pico-Union hosted an Open House for parents and the community to learn more about the school on March 27.
Dr. Jake Gordon, principal, began the event by welcoming the families, explaining SIATech's competency based individual pace program and encouraging family members to explore the work that the students have been doing.
The well attended event encouraged families to review student work, talk with the teachers, and support student success. LAUSD counselor Hiram Dabbah and Mt. St. Mary's Professor Dr. Vanessa Ochoa provided translation for the families in Spanish to be sure that everyone felt welcome.
This was an excellent opportunity to explain how SIATech works. Student Eric Murillo said, "My mom likes the school. She likes how the teachers work with students one-on-one and helping us with our progress. She also likes how she can come in whenever she wants to check in on my progress. Overall she had a great experience at Open House."
Dr. Gordon also provided information to parents and families about the upcoming graduation in June and what they can do to assist at home to ensure academic success for all enrolled students. Parents asked questions on what they can do to help their son or daughter succeed at SIATech which created a rich dialogue with SIATech teachers offering several suggestions to improve the academic performance.
One student, Elizabeth Aguilar, said, "I thought that the teachers gave good information on what parents can do to help. My Dad appreciated it a lot. He especially appreciated how Mr. Franco gave notes on attendance, the work we turn into him, and a letter grade of where we stand in his class.
YPI case managers Vanessa Gonzalez, Claudia Morales, and Monique Cardona also provided parents and families information about the services students receive from their team. Below are reflections from students and staff about the open house.
Mr. Chris Garcia commented that, "It was pleasant to see participation from parents at the open house. It was great to see that they came even though they had a full day of work and took the time to come out to open house. Events like these help create ownership and over all the kind of relationship that we strive to develop with students which makes the school more effective. It improves school culture in order to increase productivity for everyone during the instructional day."
The students seemed to enjoy having their parents' encouragement. Fabian Garcia commented, "My Mom told me to keep working hard and improve on being on time at school every day. She really appreciated our school having an open house."
Students felt inspired by their families' kind words after attending the Open House. Student Marina Vilchis said, "My family said that my teachers are doing a good job. My Grandma who attended yesterday is very happy that I haven't given up on school. She has seen a good change in me here at SIATech."
Jake Gordon is the principal for SIATech Pico-Union at Youth Policy Institute.
Ernie Silva is SIATech's director of external affairs.
CBS Evening News: SIATech Pico-Union Student Shares His Hopes for Making it Out of Poverty
Willy Manjarrez is from the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is one of the few areas in the country that has been declared a "Promise Zone" by President Obama. This means that Pico-Union, and other Los Angeles neighborhoods in the zone, qualify for tax incentives and grants to fight poverty, create jobs, and improve education. Willy and the Promise Zone concept were featured on the CBS Evening News.
SIATech has a charter high school campus in the Pico-Union neighborhood. In partnership with the Youth Policy Institute, SIATech serves low-income students who are 16-24 and need to get back on-track to graduation.
Willy, a 19-year old student, is currently attending SIATech Pico-Union. He has aspirations to be a doctor and says he wants to "be somebody that nobody expected to be, somebody successful, you know. Somebody with a nice life, nice house, nice car, nice family."
SIATech Pico-Union at Youth Policy Institute Featured in NBC4 News Footage: "Obama to Declare LA-Area 'Promise Zone'"
The city of Los Angeles was able to see inside the classrooms of SIATech Pico-Union High School at the Youth Policy Institute when the school was included in the TV newscast report on January 8, 2014. The campus is located with an area of Los Angeles that has been recently designated as a "Promise Zone" by President Obama. As one of five cities identified as Promise Zones, Los Angeles will qualify for more federal programs designed to help lift people out of poverty. SIATech Pico-Union partners with Youth Policy Insitute to provide the high school program which helps students prepare for college and career. View the video footage here.
SIATech Pico-Union at Youth Policy Institute Student Thrives with Supportive Teachers and Mentors
SIATech Pico-Union Charter High School at Youth Policy Institute is filled with students that have drive, determination, and a wealth of supportive people in their lives to ensure they are successful in school.
Hazel is an example of a SIATech Pico-Union student that illustrates these characteristics well. She recently shared what motivates her to be successful. Many SIATech Pico-Union students have a supportive family that provides them inspiration to achieve.
Hazel attributes a large part of her success to her father. She explains, "I wouldn't be in the position that I am now without the help of my Dad. He was always there for me. He is always pushing, even to this day, to try my best in school and to get the highest scores possible on every test I take. He always attends parent teacher meetings. He is always checking up on me. I probably would have already quit school by now if it wasn't for my Dad."
Hazel also is very thankful to her mother and older sister that have kept her on track in life and in school. Hazel reflects on their support, "My mom and my sister always check up on me as well. My mom can tell when I don't want to go to school on a certain day or I am not telling the entire truth about my school performance. My mom is always making sure I'm doing my best and I thank her so much for that."
Hazel also gets help with her homework from her older sister who is in college. Hazel states, "My older sister helps me with my math homework. She's a college student at Cal State Dominguez Hills, majoring in Biology and wants to be a medical doctor. She is very helpful to my success in school and I'm very thankful for that."
When I asked Hazel what she liked best about SIATech Pico-Union she said, "I really enjoy the Women's Workshop in the afternoons because we can talk about issues that are only discussed with a women's group. It's a very helpful class for me to share things."
Hazel explained how SIATech classes and teachers are making a difference for her: "I also like how our SIATech classes are at your own pace and I appreciate that. The SIATech teachers really help you understand the material and will not move forward if you don't understand the material. I need people to encourage me and I get that from SIATech teachers."
Hazel enjoys being artistic particularly with design in her spare time. "I used to like drawing but then I stopped. Now I like re-organizing my room and thinking of interior design as a career. I like interior design because seeing what a space could be like and being creative with the space. Some people can't see what the space has the capacity to be but I do and enjoy designing a completely empty space. I also have an interest in wedding planning and fashion design."
Hazel has the best attendance of all her peers at the school site and has not missed a single day of school since she enrolled during the summer!
SIATech congratulates Hazel and her family for all of her hard work and dedication towards completing her High School Diploma.
Dr. Jake Gordon is the principal of SIATech at Los Angeles Job Corps and of SIATech Pico-Union at Youth Policy Institute.
SIATech Los Angeles Student Shares Story of Returning to School at SIATech
SIATech students' lives are rich tapestries of educational experiences. One student from SIATech Los Angeles, Joyce Marzan, recently shared her story with Principal Jake Gordon.
Some SIATech high school students immigrated to the United States as children. Joyce was born in the Philippines but came to the United States without her parents. She recalls, "My parents allowed me to go to the U.S. with my cousins. I was born in Manila and came to the U.S. when I was seven years old. I was the first of my brothers and sisters to come to the U.S. My parents eventually joined me in the U.S. about 6 months after I left the Philippines."
Joyce is a bright young woman with a number of talents. "I especially like creative writing and thinking. I also like learning languages and can speak Arabic and Korean. I picked them up when I arrived in the U.S. I didn't like school much before. Whatever I was producing in school wasn't enough and it wasn't good enough."
When asked why she came back to school, Joyce said, "I was sad that I missed my first graduation and my first option was to drop out of school, but my family would be disappointed and I didn't want to disappoint them. I came back to school to give it another shot. I went back to school for myself and for my family."
Joyce has taken ownership of her education at SIATech. She enjoys the relationships she has with her teachers. "I feel like they are mentors and guide you. They are different than my other teachers that I've had in the past. I feel like I'm more responsible for my work and they are there to guide me."
A talent for art is evident in Joyce's work and she transforms her surroundings into art. In one of her favorite works she is inspired by street art of a powerful leader from Myanmar (Burma).
"Everything that I see in my day to day life inspires me. One of my favorite pieces that I have created is my Aung San Suu Kyi portrait. She's a famous Burmese activist and I wanted to draw her because she fought for the rights of her people especially for women's rights. Highlighters, sharpies, and acrylic paint were what I used to make this piece.
"I never took any interest in activists, but then I saw a movie about her at my other high school it really inspired me and her story that she has. I listen to a lot of her speeches on YouTube. She's a very powerful activist."
After high school Joyce looks forward to continuing her education. "As far as goals when I graduate from high school I would like to enter film school and focus on that or graphic design."
We congratulate Joyce and her path to graduation and look forward to seeing more of her art in the future!
Jake Gordon is the principal of SIATech at Los Angeles Job Corps and of SIATech Pico-Union at Youth Policy Institute.
SIATech Prepares for School's Opening Day
After its grand opening, the school will stay open to serve students throughout the summer.
The school is located in a bank building at 2140 West Olympic Blvd. in the 90006 zip code of downtown Los Angeles. The neighborhood is called Pico-Union. The school will be within suites 101 and 102.
Students who are interested in enrolling should complete the Student Interest Form and/or visit the campus at one of its walk-in orientations held every Tuesday at 5:00 pm and every Wednesday at 10:00 am.