Congresswoman Maxine Waters Tours Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center
To highlight the importance of education and job training, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) yesterday visited a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school dedicated to providing students and young adults with the knowledge and skills needed in the job market. At the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center (MWEPC), located in Watts in her district, the Congresswoman met with students, faculty and staff, toured some of the school's new facilities and learned about new programs available to the students.
Concerned about high rates of unemployment in the African American and Latino communities, Congresswoman Waters is focused on legislative and community solutions to job creation and retention.
"Students at the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center are receiving the education and training to succeed in the competitive job market," said Congresswoman Waters. "Particularly in these harsh economic times, when so many Americans are struggling and communities of color have been experiencing more of a depression than a recession, we need to make sure young adults are prepared for the workforce. The programs, technology and training available at MWEPC are preparing students for a career, not just a job."
During her visit, Congresswoman Waters visited the automotive repair center, the construction program and the brand new welding shop. She learned that students in the automotive program are preparing to build an engine completely from scratch in collaboration with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. The Congresswoman also toured the new 60,000 sq. foot addition to the school, which includes the Lillian Mobley Center, named after the noted community activist. Plans are underway to convert the Mobley Center into a state-of-the-art teleconference center, enabling students, faculty and staff to communicate with many schools and communities throughout the country.
"I'm very impressed with the developments at MWEPC since my last visit," said Congresswoman Waters. "New programs, expanded space, and improved technology are preparing students for the working world. The professional uniforms, the new supplies and the interaction between students and faculty indicate that MWEPC can serve as a model for schools in California and across the country. I will continue to be an advocate for the MWEPC so it can fulfill its mission and help improve our community."
Originally established as the Watts Skills Center in 1966, the school was renamed by the LAUSD Board of Education in 1989, when the Congresswoman was a California State Assemblywoman. It became known as the MWEPC, honoring her for her service to the community. Watts was then, and still remains, one of the poorest areas in the United States. According to the 2000 census, median household income there was only $19,419, per capita income was only $6,720, unemployment was 48 percent, and nearly 65 percent of people over 25 had no high school or equivalent degree.
The MWEPC offers academic and career training programs to more than 9,000 people annually. The nursing program has a 100 percent graduation rate – the highest in California – and its partnership with Southwest College allows students to further gain expertise in the field of nursing. With the Congresswoman's assistance, MWEPC is able to offer Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) and Montgomery GI bill assistance – the only school in its division to do so according to Principal Janet Clark.