Most people know him as a successful musician, but will.I.am is also a philanthropist deeply rooted in Boyle Heights and passionate about robotics.
On Wednesday, he explained how he combined the two.
It has the competition of a sporting event and the joy of entertainment, which is why will.i.am considers robotics as the perfect way to involve children in STEM subjects, science, technology, engineering and Mathematics.
“If I was 15 right now, I would be in robotics because it’s the ultimate level of creativity,” he said.
A senior member of the Black Eyed Peas, the 46-year-old started the i.am Angel Foundation in 2009. It offers a college program, scholarships and FIRST robotics clubs for kids in eastern LA.
“I was born and raised in Boyle Heights, in the Estrada Courts projects and it was beautiful and the wrestling was tough.”
In an effort to facilitate the fight for the next generation by providing STEM knowledge and skills, it is partnering with LA Unified to expand the robotics program from 1,200 children to 12,000 across the district.
“Having people like Will that students can see for themselves, someone who grew up in their neighborhood is absolutely essential,” said Austin Beutner, director of LAUSD.
At Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, the superintendent and superstar hosted a mini-competition in a sport will.I.am says it’s the one where everyone who participates can turn pro.
“Pro means you are filling jobs that are currently filled and pro also means you are creating jobs that we can’t even imagine right now.”
The district will provide the funding to launch the program with the i.am.angel foundation which provides teacher training, team guidance and competition sponsorship.