TRANS4M Boyle Heights 2012. Photo by Ciro Cesar / La Opinión
Photo by Ciro Cesar/ La Opinión
Photo by Ciro Cesar/ La Opinión

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By 2016, i.am.College Track’s leaders in Boyle Heights hope that 95 percent of the students it works with will graduate from high school and that 90 percent of them enroll in four-year colleges. This would be no small feat in Boyle Heights, where only 16 percent of residents over 25 years have graduated from high school, and only three percent have a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Census.

This year, the program will give 60 students from Boyle Heights a chance to visit Beijing for six weeks. The all-expenses-paid trip will include an introduction to Chinese language study as well as exposure to Chinese customs and society.

“It’s all about building the human capital in Boyle Heights,” says Enrique Legaspi, who oversees the program for the i.am.angel foundation.

One of the tools recently introduced to students in the program is a mapping tool called Geographical Integrations Systems (GIS). A passion of will.i.am’s, GIS can help students organize data and learn more about a community’s infrastructure.

Will.i.am says the concept is simple: “When you’re lost, you need a map to know where you’re going.” He says the maps will help give insight into the community. He wants kids to become “the agents of change they want to see,” and help transform their neighborhoods.

Lesly Juarez

Lesly Juárez is a recent graduate of the Math, Science and Technology Magnet Academy at Theodore Roosevelt High School. During her free time, she likes to read, run and swim. She now attends California...

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