In the music industry it’s all about who you know. And contrary to popular belief, not every kid in Orange County has Mickey Mouse on speed dial. An Anaheim program bridges that gap by helping at-risk kids learn music production skills.
Growing up in Boyle Heights, Fernando Almanzar dabbled in tagging and considered joining a crew or a gang before turning away from that lifestyle. Today he is an intern at the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center, where he is learning the skill of video production. He is a success story for the Los Angeles Youth Opportunity Movement, which offers grant-funded academic programs and job training for residents age 14 to 21 who meet poverty guidelines and are authorized to work.
Boyle Heights has weathered its share of threats over the years, from proposed prisons and hazardous waste plants to criminal gangs. Now residents of the historic East LA neighborhood are feeling the pressure of city-backed development that is displacing low-income housing. Community groups are using a lull in construction caused by the down economy to organize so that residents have a voice when the city pushes again to gentrify the community.
Bob Cohen saw a problem and vowed to correct it. He saw a need and wanted to fill it. Today, thousands of people across the country are getting tax refunds and credits easily and without charge because of his work and the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, which Cohen directs. The problem Cohen saw was desperate low-income people, often people with little knowledge of the government or tax system, losing much of their refunds to tax preparers who offered them instant money while taking a huge cut of their check. The need he wanted to fill was for an easy, online program that would allow people to skip the commercial tax preparers, file their taxes themselves and get their money almost as quickly.
One year after receiving $6 million in federal funds to help stem the foreclosure crisis, the city of Santa Ana has spent half of that money and provided housing for only five families while helping two borrowers. Five other homes are in escrow. Adam Elmahrek of Voice of OC has the story.