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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Crime & Law, Human Services, Marine Science & Oceanography, Recreation & Sports, Sports, Technology, Youth Violence Prevention

Mission: The Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI) serves to empower youth to discover their greater potential through extraordinary at-sea experiences aboard the tall ships Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson. Sail training uses the experience of being at sea, as part of the ship's crew, as a means to help youth learn about themselves, discover hidden strengths and talents, understand the value of working as a team, and develop 21st century leadership skills.

Results: Sail training requires youth to confront many demanding challenges, both physical and emotional. It inspires self-confidence and personal responsibility. It promotes an acceptance of others whatever their social or cultural backgrounds, and develops a willingness to take controlled risks. For most youth who undertake sail training on a Tall Ship, it is a positive life-changing experience. Since our founding in 1992, we have served more than 60,000 youth in under-served communities throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area with transformational experiences at sea.

Target demographics: young people develop the problem solving and leadership skills needed for adult life, and discover maritime and marine biology career paths.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 3,500 youth

Geographic areas served: Title 1 schools and socio-economically challenged communities throughout Los Angeles County.

Programs: TopSail Youth Program, Student Ocean Scientist Program, Science at Sea Programs, Volunteer Youth Crew Program, Boat Building Program, Adventure Learning Voyages to Channel Islands.

Community Stories

38 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

When I was in 7th grade I sailed LAMI's brigantine, Exy Johnson on a four day voyage to Catalina Island. Although at first this may sound like a cruise on a yacht, in reality it is the complete opposite. Students become the crew and preform the duties of sailing a traditional sailing vessel. With the ship's 13 sails and a spider web of rigging, it is no easy task to get the boat moving. Under the direction of LAMI's professional crew, it is entirely possible though. I vividly remember first looking up at the masts and being in complete awe but also very overwhelmed. On our voyage, my peers and I were given opportunities to succeed and recover from failures. We learned how to overcome daunting challenges. We learned how to work as a team (even if we did not always get along). We learned to push our limits both mentally and physically. We learned that putting in 100% effort to a common cause has virtue. We were taught how to take on responsibility, and craved it. We learned to teach each other and to lend a hand when a fellow crew member struggled. Sailing a brigantine is HARD work. I fell asleep instantly every night in my bunk but was eager to wake up early with my friends to scrub the deck and prepare breakfast.By the end of the voyage the rig became far less daunting. I leaned a few of the lines, knew how to furl a square sail 80ft. above the deck and understood when to tie certain knots. Feeling handy and deck gave me a tremendous amount of confidence. I walked away from the boat on our last day feeling good about what I was capable of. LAMI helped me develop imperative skills that I will use throughout my entire life. I came away from LAMI loving tall ships. There is something about it that I just can't fully describe on a keyboard. Needless to say, it quickly became a passion and obsession. About a year after my life changing voyage with LAMI, I joined the professional crew of a topsail schooner in San Diego where I honed in my sailing skills. I have worked for a handful of marvelous sailboats since and will be applying for a captains license by the end of 2016. For me, LAMI not only taught me many skills that I will use throughout my life but also set me on a pathway that could quite possibly turn into my career. I can not think of four days that had nearly as much meaning as my time with LAMI.

Sammy Lyon

Client Served

Rating: 5

We've been working with LAMI TopSail the last few years and love what they are doing! Students at our Environmental Charter middle and high schools have gone sailing with them from 6th graders doing team building activities to 12th graders trawling the ocean for plastics research. They also host weekend family sails and educator sails to get all sorts of folks out on these beautiful ships! Very nice staff, super flexible, and as a teacher I can't be more grateful to have a partner like LAMI!

Milly R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My son was initially the one who was going to do the Youth Crew Trainings on Saturdays but when I attended the orientation I was given more info as to how I could also participate!! I am sooooooo glad I did!! We both have been a part of LAMI for over a year now and not only do my son and I bond but it has taught us so much! As a single mother I am always looking for ways to be a positive influence on my boy. This is by far one of the best programs in SoCal and I am so grateful to everyone who takes part in helping teens. Not only that, but they also help the at-risk-youth. LAMI gives all teens an opportunity to see and experience something new... get them out of the norm and I am very happy to be a part of the volunteers! I would definitely like to see other parents whose primary language is not english be educated on all the benefits their teen can get from LAMI. It's very rewarding to know that you can make a difference in others in such a fun and positive way!

grnlight

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Let me start off by saying, I really enjoy volunteering with this organization. I was skeptical at first, as I signed up a few years ago, I was not sure I had it in me. I started volunteering with LAMI in 2013. I have made good friends along the way and even introduced a few to the program. I soon got really familiar with the brigantines, the ships crew and most importantly the outlook of the program. I then became, part of the volunteer crew, still getting my hands and feet wet. I became more confident in myself as part of the crew to show the youth of today that education is more important for them then just being mind boggled with computer games, and just hanging out doing nothing productive. This program works with LAUSD, and other programs that involve youth. Educating them about the ships aren't the only things they learn. Its about teamwork, character, confidence building, that each individual learns.
I was offered a position for the Tall Ships Festival as Ships Liaison Officer in 2014, and thanks to LAMI I was able to continue more of my knowledge with Tall ships, the Port of Los Angeles, the education aspect of the program. I still volunteer occasionally, when my time allows. I still learn new things when I volunteer with the LAMI program, captains, and crew.

1 Ralph-LAMI

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Los Angeles Maritime Institute gives me a chance to share my love for wind and sail with at-risk children some of which have not seen the ocean much less sailed. We teach kids the physics if sailing, onboard systems, working aloft, navigation, marine bio, environmental science, teamwork, etc.

I first sailed on a tallship 20+ years ago off the coast of Maine. LAMI gives me a chance to continue my study and give back.

LAMI has licensed captains, qualified staff in admin and volunteerism, all of which make us feel welcome and that culture makes us work hard so the children feel safe and comfortable.

I was also able to introduce my own young teenage children to sailing. What a gift LAMI allows me to pay my love forward.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have sailed with LAMI for about 9 years, since I was 10. Starting out with youth sails, I developed a love for the activity and grew to going up to as many as 6 sails a month with adults and schools. Being home schooled, it helped me be able to go out more often. The biggest outcome I take from LAMI are the friendships that I was able to develop with the other kids.

Mark222

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I teach inner-city Marine biology in Los Angeles. The LA maritime Institute gave some of my students in our Marine biology class and also members of our Marine biology club an opportunity, free of charge, to participate in several days of activities on board their tall ships.
These inner-city youth would never have had this unique opportunity. This is an organization that should be generously funded so that they can continue to give inner-city youth especially experiences on board a tall ship where they not only learn hands-on and leadership skills but also navigation and Marine science.
MFriedman

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer crew member for about 14 months. Sailing with LAMI is a fantastic experience. We have the boat, the ocean, the sun (or rain), and we are surrounded by captain and crew members who are knowledgeable, happy and having a wonderful time. As a volunteer crew member, I'm learning more with every sail, and I'm helping kids to learn too.

I recommend LAMI to everyone who loves tall ships, because volunteers can work and sail on a tall ship. At the same time, they are helping kids to expand their horizons while experiencing the magic of teamwork.

Gregory17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was volunteer crew for several years with LAMI. The staff is fantastic. It was always amazing to see the transformation of the school kids who trained with us. The kids often came on board tentative and shy, but after learning about the ship, taking on the responsibility of being part of the crew, and working together as a team, they left full of pride and confidence in their newfound skills. The ships and the program offer a one of a kind experience and is transformative.

Former staff

Rating: 5

I worked as an AB/deckhand for LAMI in 2005-2006. I was a green deckhand with lots of excitement but little knowledge or experience. I think LAMI gave me the experience I needed not just for my career (I am a small charter boat captain) but also for life. I learned attention to detail and the importance of hard work and doing your assigned task. But the job was fun! I got to climb masts and set sails with excited kids! Combining work ethic with that important sense of excitement and fun makes everything my job and life is today. I still have an Irving Johnson T-shirt (a bit worn out) and a turkshead on my ankle, and I still wear them with pride.