“I can’t believe that in 12 weeks, I can have a union job in construction!” – graduate, Simon Rodia Continuation High School & Sharefest Career Connections Participant. Autonomy is a sense of one’s control over the trajectory of one’s own life. Marathon continues its legacy of fostering autonomy in youth by providing grants that give students meaningful experiences to explore their future and its possibilities. Marathon chose Sharefest as one of their $25,000 grant recipients by investing in our Workforce Development Program.

Our Instructor-Mentors encourage students to work through obstacles, empowering them to make decisions toward their unique pathway in life.  Developing autonomy helps teens make emotional, behavioral, and values-based decisions in preparation for adulthood. Sharefest is working to place young adults who are at the greatest risk of dropping out of high school into apprenticeships, entry level positions, and well-paying careers that do not require a college degree. Marathon continues to rally around local youth to show them the opportunities all around them and encourage them to chase after the ones that speak to their heart.


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Gretchen Downey, the Vice President of Programs at Sharefest commented about the momentum this grant creates for our youth, “Over the last few months in our workforce development program, our students were introduced to career opportunities they’ve never seen before. Grants like this build on that foundation of knowledge that is likely to result in job security for years.” We meet the majority of our students at LAUSD continuation high schools, and the instruction of our workforce development program is a natural extension of the coursework already offered at those schools. What better way to give students power and autonomy over their lives than to introduce them to different pathways towards their future and support them in their decision making.

At Angles Gate in San Pedro, Sharefest instructors have had a presence on campus for almost 10 years.  Our Instructor-Mentor Phonnyta Seng teaches a career and personal development course. Miss P, as her students call her, has made a huge impact on the students at Angel’s Gate, Gustavo is one of those students. He spoke fondly about Miss P’s impact on his life, “I had one of Miss P’s classes last year, she helped me pass my courses, and helped a lot of other people too.” The Instructor- Mentor role Miss P fills as a caring adult, is valuable and healthy for our students development. The mentoring process fosters problem solving and encouragement from peers as well as adults. A beautiful picture of what it looks like when we show up for one another. The power of others believing in us is sometimes just what we need to believe in ourselves.

To date, Sharefest is the only community-based organization operating consistently in these schools. The need for a job placement program emerged from our experience preparing students for college, and contributions like the $25,000 grant from Marathon will continue the good work!

About Sharefest: 

Sharefest delivers hope to disconnected youth by giving them the skills, resources, support and connections they need to mobilize from poverty. 

About Marathon Petroleum Corporation and the Los Angeles Refinery: 

Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) is a leading, integrated, downstream energy company headquartered in Findlay, Ohio. The company operates the nation’s largest refining system. MPC’s marketing system includes branded locations across the United States, including Marathon brand retail outlets. MPC also owns the general partner and majority limited partner interest in MPLX LP, a midstream company that owns and operates gathering, processing, and fractionation assets, as well as crude oil and light product transportation and logistics infrastructure. More information is available at www.marathonpetroleum.com.

MPC’s Los Angeles refinery is in Los Angeles County, near the Los Angeles Harbor. It manufactures cleaner-burning California Air Resources Board (CARB) gasoline and CARB diesel fuel, as well as conventional gasoline, distillates, petroleum coke, anode-grade coke, chemical-grade propylene, fuel-grade coke, heavy fuel oil and propane. The refinery ships products via its connections to several product distribution pipelines and terminals. Its Watson cogeneration plant produces 400 megawatts and is the largest cogeneration facility in California.