After more than three decades of waiting, the corner of Manchester and Vermont will finally get the transformative investment it needs and deserves. Led by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, stakeholders gathered to break ground on one of the most ambitious and socially impactful development projects in the city – the Vermont Manchester Transit Priority Project.
Since using eminent domain to acquire a 4.2-acre vacant lot that spans two full city blocks, the County of Los Angeles, Metro and other private partners have worked to design a truly transformative project, with the state’s first public boarding high school as its centerpiece.
The SEED School of Los Angeles County (SEED LA) or SEED LA will focus on serving the most at-risk and resilient students from South LA. The 147,000-sq. ft. campus will include 170 dorm rooms, 20 staff apartments, 20 classrooms, an art studio, science labs, a maker space lab, administration space, conference rooms, a gymnasium, a dining hall, outdoor recreation space, courtyards and a rooftop garden.
“This community has waited far too long for meaningful change,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “But real change is finally here, with SEED LA to be followed by new homes, shops, a transit hub and job training opportunities. An empty lot that once represented chronic disinvestment is about to be transformed into a landmark of educational opportunity, economic development, and hope.”
“A first-class education is invaluable and puts young people on a path to successful futures,” said Councilmember Harris-Dawson. “This SEED school will ensure students that will benefit from a 24-hour learning environment have access to it without needing to leave the South LA community.”
SEED LA’s five-day-a-week, 120-hour public boarding school model is built on giving students the “Gift of Time” to focus on their education in a stable, safe environment with a host of wrap-around support services. The SEED Foundation’s three boarding school campuses on the east coast graduate students who enroll in college at a rate of 94 percent and go on to complete college at nearly 4 times the national rate for comparable low-income, first-generation students.
The inaugural class of SEED LA students will arrive in August 2022.
Through a unique partnership with LA Metro and LA County, and with the generous support of cornerstone donors, Dr. Natasha and Brandon Beck, SEED LA is not only committed to preparing students for college, but also exposing students to a range of professional careers within the broader transportation and infrastructure sectors.
“All over this country, infrastructure projects are being designed, built and managed in underserved communities by people who are neither indigenous to these communities nor reflective of these communities’ demographics,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “Investing in the education of underserved children of color will bring transformational change to both SEED LA students and the communities they will contribute to in the future.”
In total, SEED LA will serve 400 students in grades 9-12 selected through an admissions lottery weighted to prioritize resilient youth such as students experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity, have an incarcerated family member, or have had contact with the foster care, child protection, or juvenile justice system.
Located on the northeast corner of the property, the second phase of the development will include 180 affordable apartments, 55,000 square feet of community-serving retail, a transit plaza and a Metro-operated Job and Innovation Center. The mixed-used project is being developed by Primestor, Bridge Housing and the Coalition for Responsible Community Development.