03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Same Chance I Had

Today, I'm proud to announce a down payment of over $4 million dollars to start putting Angelenos who dropped out of high school back to work through the Workforce Investment Act. We're also launching the Reconnections Academy, which will help put more than 1,000 young adults back to school and back to work. The Academy will help them earn their high school degrees, and then find them good jobs that will place them on a pathway to a career. And an additional $750,000 will be used to hire workers to weatherize buildings and make our communities more energy efficient.

All of these projects are your stimulus dollars at work in your city.

According to a report released today by Professor Paul Harrington at Northeastern University, nearly one out of five Angelenos between the ages of 16 and 24 or 100,000 people are not in school and are not working. His study also tells us that a high school dropout in LA will earn approximately $650,000 dollars over their lifetime, compared to high school graduate who will earn $1.2 million dollars or a college graduate who will earn nearly $2.3 million dollars.

These income disparities do not just affect individuals -- they amount to a major loss to our city. Professor Harrington estimates that each high school dropout will cost Los Angeles taxpayers approximately $292,000 dollars over their lifetime through increases in social services, health care costs and incarceration rates.

I was a high school drop-out, so this issue deeply stirs me. When I was at Roosevelt High nearly three decades ago, around 75% of my class dropped out. I was fortunate enough to get a second chance though. I was admitted to UCLA and then to law school, which opened the doors that led to where I am today. It also instilled the belief in me that with a quality education, our children will thrive; with good, well-paying jobs, our families will thrive; and with an educated, productive workforce, our city will thrive.

I won't stop pushing until all the young Angelenos who are out of school and out of work are given the same chance to succeed I had.