Adventure Education Aboard L.A.'s Official Tall Ships

submission by TopSail

About Your Application

Organization(s) name(s):

Los Angeles Maritime Institute

Organization(s) website(s):

Organization(s) twitter handle(s):

Organization(s) facebook handle(s):

Organization(s) instagram handle(s):

Please share the direct link for voters to sign up for your newsletter(s):

Describe Your Organization(s)

Non-profit organization

For-profit organization


Other (please specify below):

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


We empower youth to discover their greater potential through extraordinary “learning by doing” experiences at sea aboard our tall ships, instilling the academic skills needed to graduate from high school and fostering a love for lifelong learning.

In one to three sentences, please describe your proposal.


Since 1992, our at-sea programs have proven the effectiveness of adventure learning experiences for at-risk youth in Los Angeles, making a direct impact on educational, economic, and social outcomes for more than 60,000 young people.

With this grant, we will provide 40 at-sea programs for middle schools who cannot afford to pay and are already on our waiting list, and "free" community programs (Sail LA!) where Angelenos can sail with their families and become part of a real working crew.

Where will you be working? Please be specific (e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County).

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles (countywide)

City of Los Angeles (citywide)


Other (please specify below):

How do you plan to use these resources to make change? (check all that apply)

Conduct research

Engage residents and stakeholders

Implement a pilot or new project

Expand a pilot or program

Mobilize for systems change

Advocate with policymakers and leaders

Implement and track policy

Other (please specify below):

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics? (check all that apply)

Percentage of children enrolled in early education programs

Percentage of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years

Youth unemployment and underemployment

District-wide graduation rates

HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math

Academic Performance Index* scores

College matriculation rates

Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)

Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)

Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)

Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.


Our “learning by doing” programs have been operating on the L.A. Waterfront for 23 years. Our proven ability to reach students in new and compelling ways, coupled with a vibrant educational venue (tall ships at sea), is groundbreaking. Our unique program improves students’ ability and interest in continuing their education, particularly in S.T.E.M. subjects, while opening doors of opportunity for maritime careers and vocational training. Our program combines academics, recreation, real world relevance, and fosters lifelong relationships resulting in a win for students, their parents, and ultimately our community.

Our tall ships provide a challenging and nurturing environment for youth to overcome perceived physical, mental, and emotional limitations. It is very effective with adolescents who are not coping well with the demands of society and are at risk of dropping out of school. Such youths often see themselves as being incapable of living in harmony with mainstream society.

Adventure education at sea enhances the growth of developing skills such as awareness, communication, and teamwork. Our programs offer real life experience in critical thinking, self-reliance, and the pure enjoyment of being on the water.

Recent studies show children are spending less time outdoors and are averaging 50 hours of screen time each week. This sedentary behavior contributes to obesity and health problems such as type II diabetes. Movement not only improves our physical health, but also gives a significant boost to our learning abilities. As brain scientist John Medina explains, exercise improves cognition by increasing oxygen flow into the brain. According to Medina, an increase in oxygen is always accompanied by an uptick in mental sharpness.

In addition to overall health benefits and inspiring youth to stay in school, the TopSail Youth Program has been directly credited with improving self-esteem, creating responsible behavior, developing problem solving skills, fostering ocean literacy, and inspiring maritime careers and marine science fields of study.

Traditional teaching styles tend to be less effective at reaching at-risk youth populations. Student boredom is a deterrent to learning. Research confirms that students learn most effectively from active engagement with information and ideas. Students learn better when they take the initiative to apply concepts to practice, to solve real problems, to make decisions, and to reflect on the consequences.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.


Students who participate in our program have the opportunity to join our volunteer Youth Crew to continue their skill building. Youth receive a Sail Training Logbook to track new skills and advance through three levels of maritime competencies. This Logbook is designed to inform, guide, and document their progress. This critical self-evaluation tool allows students to set goals, monitor their own progress, receive feedback, and achieve certification by the ship’s captain. This certification process is recognized by the United States Coast Guard and counts as necessary coursework and required sea time. For the public sailing events, we will ask participants to complete a short pre- and post- survey to measure the effectiveness of adventure learning for families, and track awareness of our local marine environment.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

Other (please specify below):

14 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

LAMI has been a wonderful teacher, social outlet, and adventure for many adults and students. Let's keep them strong!

by JACB05
5 months ago

Such an important way for young students to get out of their neighborhoods, some have rarely left, and get on the open sea. Changes their lives. I've been on several public sailing trips and watched the young students work on the ships. This organization truly needs the money and is doing a very worthwhile service to the local underserved community..

by Dorik10
5 months ago

Don't live in LA, however I have watched and seen on my visits to San Pedro the good work that LAMI has done over the decades. I've contributed what little I can to LAMI even before the twin brigantines were built. It has been contributions well spent. LAMI does what public education should be doing every day.

by deltashiphunter
5 months ago

I am a retired LAUSD Principal of Jane Addams Continuation High School. Continuation High Schools are non-traditional schools instituted to enable at-risk students to receive a high school diploma. Some of the major characteristics of at-risk students is boredom with traditional instructional methods, truancy, unstable families, and anti-social behavior. Many of my students were returning from juvenile hall and on probation. When I got involved in the LAMI Top Sail program for many years, I saw a dramatic change in my students educational motivation, achievement and attendance. I used attendance and educational progress as a motivating and determining factor for each of their participation in the Top Sail classes.

I loved being involved with LAMI, and could not list the amount of good they brought to my students.

by Nick Bryan

by nbryan789
5 months ago

Their work expands horizons in every way.

by gregarice
5 months ago

I love this organization, they do such good in the community.

by dstrohmaier
5 months ago

LAMI is a fantastic organization!

That first orientation and crew training on board their brigantines Exy and Irving Johnson were everything I hoped they would be. Fun, extremely informative, challenging, and totally legit. To be honest, I was concerned at first that the program would be full of some know-it-all jerks who got their kicks out of bullying people around and showing off how well they could operate a boat. Nope. Nothing could be farther from my experience. At LAMI, I’ve found nothing but patient, helpful, and well-informed instructors and colleagues, all of whom are motivated by their love of teaching about life at sea.

The Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s youth topsail program is a fantastic way for anyone to learn about tall ships, sailing, history, STEM, and just about anything else worth knowing. I highly recommend it!

by JoshuaRigsby
6 months ago

ITEP has been partnering with LAMI since our earliest days. The fabulous work of the TopSail Youth Program in middle school sets the stage for ITEP's career development activities in high school. LAMI's programs open horizons for our youth, and together we help them sail through.

by amygrat
6 months ago

LAMI is one of the most effective ways to serve the youth of our community, especially those who don't have opportunities to see life outside their local neighborhoods. It really changes their horizons, with surprising speed and efficiency.

by engrpax
6 months ago

For over 23 years this organization has been empowering our most undeserved youth! We aspire to help so many more!

by Bruceheyman1
6 months ago

The LAMI program is first-rate at providing life-changing experiences to the youth of LA county. Kids who join the crew of these tall ships learn problem-solving, teamwork, and how to get along with others, while at the same time learning about the ocean and marine life. The skills they learn here are invaluable as they go through life.
Please show your support by voting for this very worthwhile program.

Douglas Corey
LAMI Topsail Volunteer

by DouglasC
6 months ago

LAMI Topsail changes students lives JUST from stepping aboard the brigantines. Many students arrive with apprehension on their faces, all leave with gigantic smiles on their faces. They are now more confident. The change is subtle for they have sailed into the ocean, possibly seeing marine life for the first time. They have reluctantly walked onto the bowsprit, yet faced their fears and come back aboard elated. All have physically worked hard as a team raising and dousing sails, and have seen the results as the brigantines cut through the water.
As a volunteer I have witnessed the metamorphosis of the youth we serve. I am forever changed as well.

Michele St. Peter
LAMI Topsail Volunteer

by stpetem1
6 months ago

"Life changing" is a pair of words that gets thrown around so often that it's almost lost its impact. That impact is NOT lost at LAMI. I can't begin in such a small space to describe the difference it's made in my life, and the opportunity it gives me to reach out to LA's youth. To say it's amazing to watch our students transform in their time with us is a huge understatement. This place is adventure, curiosity, courage, leadership, hard work, deep friendship, fun... It's so many things we need more of in daily life. Our vessels show students they are capable of anything. I'm so thrilled to be a part of this type of education, and I encourage all of you to vote for us, so we can continue to make this chance available to the people of LA and beyond.

by Marann
6 months ago

I may be the first person it ever happened to but my phone thought that it was much smarter than me. It decided to “Auto Carrot” (Auto Correct) my desire to point out that LAMI focuses on the most UNDER-SERVED youth and changed it to undeserved youth. The youth that LAMI serves are most definitely under-served and most definitely NOT undeserved.

We believe that we can make LA a great place to live and work by focusing on, and lifting up those that are the most under-served; they deserve our focus and help.

by Bruceheyman1
6 months ago

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Award topvotedidea 5a5ae14e3d56a10363ea2a398cece46cf4df891213cbe68677c19d8903a1932a
Circle 1 inactive e7784182a1bd5eace578987db27fc19ec6337f418c48c6c8732605b9043d50d0 Step1 title submission inactive cde083e53089b973e7c9dc80a44a038c1ce4cf3b2650aeb5549157d1ed58a2d9

Submission Began
Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Submission Ended
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
at 07:00 PM UTC

Circle 2 inactive 74a43088831beb43fdbd7591ef5d50a5a7a26ff92c9e8ed489782459fa31a8d9 Step2 title voting inactive 96be722f53c417edddb5742ba9a6dc2fd403f7e4f6c19dbe883d50d20d93689d

Voting Began
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Voting Ended
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
at 08:00 PM UTC

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, December 08, 2015