The Friendship Foundation announced Thursday that it is planning to develop a $36 million, state-of-the-art education campus in Redondo Beach to better serve the development of special needs students and the broader community beyond high school.
The 3.25-acre campus -- set to be built at 850 S. Inglewood Ave. in cooperation with the Redondo Beach Unified School District -- is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022.
"We hope to create a gold standard program serving teens and young adults to find their passion beyond high school,'' said Rabbi Yossi Mintz, who formed the foundation 15 years ago with the Jewish Community Center-Chabad of the South Bay with the goal of providing children with special needs the same advantages of their peers to enjoy and experience life.
"Our dream would be to educate, innovate and inspire students, teachers and the broader community worldwide to serve the entire person," Mintz said.
The campus will include a 55,000-square-foot facility that will offer vocational and job training programs and include:
-- a creative center that will offer training on digital media including graphic design, coding, game design, along with painting, photography, filmmaking, woodworking, jewelry making, songwriting, audio production and music mixing;
-- the Friendship Cafe and Teaching Kitchen, which will give culinary students hands-on learning experience to train for careers in the hospitality and culinary industries, and will teach the basics of reading recipes, cooking skills and techniques along with menu design, safety and sanitation, plating, serving and hosting;
-- a recreation center that will offer the community a place to participate in activities including basketball, volleyball, rock climbing, pickleball, dance, yoga, meditation, martial arts and social programming; and
-- multi-generational mentoring that will connect older adults with younger students.
The facility will have programs dealing with personal growth and development, social and emotional wellness, healthy lifestyle habits and physical fitness and job training and exploration, including the fields of technology, media, hospitality, retail, culinary, office, education, trades and landscaping.
"We've learned a tremendous amount serving our special needs community since 2005, working with 10 school districts, numerous partners and hundreds of participants to create integrated programs,'' Mintz said. "The children who started with us 15 years ago have become young adults and are now asking for help finding gainful employment. Each and every one of us wants a purpose in life and a way to contribute to society. That's what our new campus is all about.''
Mintz lauded Skechers President Michael Greenberg and other donors for "making this 'big idea' a reality today.''
According to the foundation, 75% of the budget for the project has already been committed through private donations.
Foundation officials noted that nearly 200,000 students are enrolled in special education in Los Angeles County and that eight in 10 Americans with disabilities are unemployed.