Professor Awarded Grant for At-risk Youth Program

State senator presents check for new film equipment

Aug. 9, 2011 By Jenna Bartlo

At-risk youth in Los Angeles will benefit from a newly awarded grant for new film and lighting equipment proposed by Biola University film professor Michael Gonzales. California state Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) presented a $5,000 check from the Barona Tribal Indians Education Fund to Sheriff Lee Baca on Aug. 9 for the Sheriff’s Leadership Academy — a fully accredited school where Gonzales teaches video production.

Until now, students have borrowed equipment or Gonzales has allowed students to use his own equipment for the class, which he teaches as part of his volunteer duties for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Training Bureau through the Stars Center in Whittier. Working with three deputies, Gonzales works with the second-chance students weekly to make films regarding themes the deputies address earlier in the week.

“They are good kids,” said Gonzales. “They just need to find a hook and filmmaking is that hook for them.”

Regarding the grant, Baca said the investment shows the students that the professors and program are committed to them. Gonzales applied for the grant to buy the new equipment to improve the program, which provides a safe haven for students who were kicked out of their high schools but want to learn, and would otherwise be considered at risk of gang violence in their neighborhood schools.

In Gonzales’ class, the high school students learn screenwriting, film production, crew positions and editing. This fall, Biola Cinema and Media Arts students will be interning at the academy to help teach the class, and students from the academy will also come to Biola to tour campus.

Learn more about Biola’s Cinema and Media Arts program.


Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at 562.777.4061 or through email at




  • Lisa Swain Aug. 10, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Mike Gonzales is a rock star!!! Go, Mike!

  • June Hetzel Aug. 29, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    Go Michael! I applaud you for mentoring our youth! Investment in our young people will cultivate leadership and talent to be used for good in our community. May the Lord bless you and may the God bless these young students in your care. What a great learning opportunity!

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