Los Angeles Maritime Institute

Annual Appeal 2020

“Thank you for everything. For taking time from your day. For teaching us to save the sea. For helping us understand the world.” 
– 5th grade student, LAMI virtual STEM class, Ricardo Lizarraga Elementary, LAUSD 

A student wrote and held up these words to his computer camera for Los Angeles Maritime Institute educators at the end of one of our live online lessons. Similar expressions of gratitude and smiling student faces continually show up on our screens while teaching our online sessions. The positive responses exemplify the sincere desire and hunger our community’s children have for learning when the material is compelling and the instruction is supportive and inspiring. LAMI’s temporary pivot to engaging youth virtually through our unique active-learning digital courses is necessary at this time to meet the needs of our youth.

Yes, the world has temporarily turned upside down, and, yes, LAMI’s experiential education programs have moved to the digital realm. But I am grateful to report that LAMI and our wholly-owned subsidiary Children’s Maritime Institute in Long Beach still exist and continue to serve the children of our communities and beyond with much-needed educational experiences. To be here today has required painful organizational sacrifices, difficult decisions, and program agility over the last eight months. The inspiration that makes all of this possible comes from the shared compassion continuously demonstrated within our community and among our participants, staff, and supportive individuals like you.

On behalf of LAMI, I want to recognize again and thank you for valuing youth at-sea experiential education and being a loyal LAMI supporter. I ask you to consider stretching a contribution to LAMI’s 2020 end-of-the-year appeal. Charitable contributions are particularly critical this year if LAMI is to continue delivering exceptional educational and life-affirming opportunities to children.

The brutal reality is, while the needs of children grow, LAMI’s resources have profoundly retracted. Just one year ago, LAMI relied on its successful revenue model of equal proportions sourced from charitable contributions, government and foundation support, and earned program income. For the last eight months, granting agencies and organizations have understandably prioritized and redirected their resources to acute COVID-19 health and welfare programs. Over the same time, LAMI has been unable to provide our in-person revenue-generating programs like community sails and educational voyages. As a result, LAMI is now exceedingly reliant on individual giving to serve young people.

I am proud to say we are exceptionally delivering on this mission and our other core priorities of keeping everyone safe and using this time to improve LAMI’s infrastructure.

LAMI is serving on average more youth daily than before COVID-19, though, most virtually. At the beginning of the school year, LAUSD invited LAMI into the virtual classrooms of Local District Central to teach LIVE our unique active-learning STEM courses to 5th-grade classes and enrichment courses to K-8th graders. We are also consistently adding to and widely sharing LAMI’s Virtual Voyage digital-lesson library. Virtual Voyage digital resources are educational products for teachers, students, and parents, including worksheets, videos, and activities covering various subjects such as ocean science, maritime engineering, and physics. At this time, we have distributed these resources to hundreds of educators locally and internationally. When governing orders and our strict COVID-19 health protocols allow, LAMI provides welcomed in-person educational sails to youth and community groups like children of first responders, our bilingual Explore the Coast sails, and ocean exploratory lessons for children through our Weekend Wonders program. LAMI also sponsors and mentors Sea Scout’s TopSailor skills-building program through virtual classes and day sails.

LAMI continues to make paramount the safety and health of its program participants, volunteers, live-aboard crew, and staff. Immediately following LA County’s ‘safer at home’ order on March 12th, LAMI designated a safety officer specific to COVID-19 and created rigorous safety protocols for all aspects of operations. LAMI crew and staff diligently execute our good health and hygiene protocols to ensure our ships and workplaces are safe. We are also committed to supporting our communities and reducing the infection rates by adhering to the local, state, and federal emergency recommendations and mandates.

Parallel to these accomplishments, LAMI’s care for the organization’s infrastructure is a priority. After all, our ships deserve love too! To this end, we continue restoration on LAMI’s iconic topsail schooner Swift of Ipswich, installed new bunk mattresses in both brigantines, replaced the engine and generator aboard Irving Johnson, and plan the same engine replacement on Exy Johnson. Additionally, LAMI is working behind the scenes on a complete website overhaul expected in early 2021. LAMI is also making sure to care for our most valuable resource – our volunteers! We continue to provide volunteer orientations, skills-advancement courses, and training events.

Amid these challenging times, LAMI is doing what it needs to do to stay afloat and provide outstanding educational and uplifting opportunities to young people. But we cannot do it without your help.  Please join me in turning our shared experience during this time into compassionate action to address the needs of our young people.

Please consider donating to LAMI’s 2020 Annual Appeal today.

Thank you.

Fair winds,

Bruce Heyman

Executive Director

P.S. – Let’s work together to get our eager 5th grader from LAUSD on deck setting sails! Help keep us afloat to ensure this will happen when in-person programming returns. Please donate today!