Barger Establishes $6M Capital Project Fund, Brings AV College to Challenger Youth Center Repurposing Project

LOS ANGELES, CA, May 17 – Today, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger successfully introduced a motion that establishes a multi-million dollar capital project fund and adds Antelope Valley College to the County’s efforts to dramatically repurpose its Challenger Memorial Youth Center and invest in youth.

The project will transform Challenger, a former juvenile detention facility, to a premiere job training campus with housing for young people ages 18 to 25 who were former foster youth, involved with the juvenile justice system, or homeless.

“I am dedicated to transforming Challenger into a community asset that brings high quality vocational training, housing and hope to the lives of young people who don’t have anyone to turn to for help,” said Supervisor Barger. “We must invest in capital projects like Challenger and partner with experts to create programs that are tailored to the needs of a new generation of learners. They are our 21st century workforce and deserve a supportive pathway to an independent and self-sufficient future.”

The motion identifies the County’s Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) as the lead contracting entity for project management services.

“Following the leadership of Supervisor Barger and the Board of Supervisors, the County will reimagine Challenger for opportunity youth, creating a dynamic space and programming for living, learning, and working,” said Kelly LoBianco, Executive Director of Economic and Workforce Development for L.A. County WDACS. “With a restorative justice, workforce development, and youth development lens, we will build a model where young adults not only realize possibilities for meaningful work and civic participation, but we create new opportunities that link qualified talent and quality jobs in the Antelope Valley. Along with our partner in Antelope Valley College, we hope Challenger will be a new model that we can replicate throughout the County.”

Antelope Valley College President Ed Knudson reflected on what it means for the college to be included as a program design and operations partner for the Challenger project.

“Antelope Valley College is honored to support Supervisor Barger’s motion to repurpose the Challenger Youth Detention Center, and stands ready with its wide network of partnerships and services to support the new mission of the Challenger facility,” said Knudson. “Our mission’s primary focus is to serve the community. When we serve the community, we serve our students. We look forward to continuing the planning discussion and are excited about the prospects of providing direct support and creating new opportunities for the students.”

The County of Los Angeles has been steadily working since October 2018 to create a new vision and purpose for Challenger Memorial Youth Center. In addition to the $6,032,000 appropriation to support this project, Supervisor Barger’s motion also directs the County’s legislative advocates to continue efforts to secure $25 million in additional State funding for the Challenger project. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the motion, with a 5-0 vote in favor of moving ahead.

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