LA2050 is a city-wide initiative to deploy “financial, human, and social capital to build a better future–a future for Angelenos, shaped by Angelenos.” And one big part of the effort is an annual grant challenge that awards a total of $1 million in grants (with awards ranging from $10,000 to $100,000) to 25 local non-profit organizations working to improve the way Angelenos Connect, Create, Learn, Play and Live.
This year’s grant challenge began in February, with applications open until early April. The program received a record 320 proposals this year, and the 25 finalists – five in each of the five categories above – were announced on June 1. Public voting to rank the finalists for their final grant awards opened on June 21. Voting ends on Monday, June 28, at 5 p.m., so if you’d like to learn about the 25 finalist programs, and then vote for the proposals you think will have the most positive influence on our communities, now is the time.
You can read more about the finalists below…and then go to https://challenge.la2050.org/vote/form/ to vote for your favorites (you can vote for one finalist in each category).
Finalists in the CONNECT Category
Center for Restorative Justice Works (CRJW) keeps children and families connected with incarcerated parents to improve the health and wellbeing of children, reduce recidivism rates, and build stronger communities. Beyond the Bus is a transformative program that offers children the chance to maintain connection through virtual visits and expanded opportunities for in-person visits after the pandemic at ten hubs throughout Los Angeles County. These hubs will also offer food, fun activities, and homework help.
Children Now seeks funding to continue the early-stage implementation of the Family Urgent Response System (FURS), a cross-sector state and local response system, consisting of a 24/7 statewide hotline and county mobile response systems for youth in foster care and their caregivers. This new program helps foster youth experience stability in nurturing family homes, strengthening trust and relationships between children and their caregivers, and preventing the inappropriate criminalization of traumatized children and youth.
human-I-T works to connect as many low-income households as possible to affordable broadband solutions by offering unbiased guidance as they identify and sign up for low-cost internet plans. The organization conducts outreach to low-income communities, educating residents on the various plans that are available to them based on income level, zip code, and other demographic factors, and then assists them in signing up for a plan. human-I-T provides this assistance via text and phone support in both English and Spanish.
Los Angeles Center for Law & Justice (LACLJ) creates safety and justice for immigrants who are survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault, including those who have been trafficked while working to make all government and law enforcement agencies providers of solutions rather than barriers. LACLJ provides free legal representation to ensure survivors feel safe in coming forward, and then works to ensure their rights are protected during and after prosecution.
The Civics Center‘s Youth Democracy Leaders–LA (YDL-LA) program provides a diverse group of high school students an opportunity to join a community of young people and lead their peers in improving LA County youth voter participation rates. Students learn valuable leadership skills, meet local leaders, gain experience in organizing, and collaborate on tactics for making change. This four-month program incorporates community-building exercises and concludes when students organize and hold a voter registration drive for their high school.
Finalists in the CREATE Category
Convent House California‘s Digital Dove Lab: Animation and Training Studio will provide youth leaving homelessness behind – primarily Black and Brown youth – with training and career opportunities that lead to long-term financial sustainability and career success in animation and special effects. After the six-month, 20-hour/week paid training program, youth can either continue their training, become employed by the lab, or become employed with one of four major outside studio partners.
Fund for Guaranteed Income‘s (F4GI) Compton Pledge is the largest city-based guaranteed income pilot in the US. F4GI will distribute recurring, unconditional cash relief to 800 low-income residents for two years. The program has already enrolled its participants: undocumented and formerly incarcerated residents otherwise excluded from welfare programs and largely unbanked. This grant will help continue to maintain the pilot for the next two years and ensure operations, communication, and evaluation can continue.
Las Fotos Project‘s The Foto Forum: A Creative Advocacy Space for Teen Girls builds on the success of the organization’s digital promotoras program, working with youth leaders to use social media, photojournalism, and multimedia to promote awareness of social inequities facing their community, from housing and health care to food justice. The Foto Forum will engage community members in solutions-based dialogue at its gallery space in Boyle Heights, a proposal that won a $50,000 grant via the 2020 My LA2050 Grants Challenge.
On The Go LA helps local food entrepreneurs easily and affordably formalize their business and grow their customer base by offering full-service, short-term food truck rentals. The organization makes the process of growing a business seamless by providing the truck, permits, high-traffic stops, marketing, and operational support, which lets the entrepreneurs focus on what they do best: serve great, new food to local Angelenos. In the last 10 months, On The Go LA has provided services to 50 food entrepreneurs, mostly Black and Latinx.
People’s Pottery Project empowers formerly incarcerated women, trans and non-binary individuals through the power of art-making, grassroots advocacy, and meaningful employment through its non-profit ceramics studio. PPP provides free ceramics classes and paid ceramics training for individuals navigating the extremely difficult transition out of incarceration, providing both meaningful art therapy and urgent financial resources to prevent recidivism. PPP also offers paths to employment at its studio as instructors, artisans, and administrators.
Finalists in the LEARN Category
Alliance in Mentorship / MiMentor‘s “Together We Succeed” (TWS) will empower Latinx and other underrepresented pre-health community college students to excel in their transition to a four-year undergraduate program. TWS will pair pre-health students with health professionals of similar backgrounds and paths for supportive mentorship. TWS students will gain the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and networks that will propel them on an actionable path to becoming health professionals.
DIY Girls provides hands-on STEM coding and electronics programs for girls of color in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. The organization’s hands-on and real-world STEM, coding, and making programs are designed to spark their interest in STEM fields and careers as well as support their self-confidence, curiosity, and persistence. DIY Girls has a proven track record of engaging 5th- through 8th-grade girls, ultimately changing the way that they perceive STEM careers.
New Earth, in partnership with Da Vinci RISE High School, provides young people with a second chance to earn a high school diploma through a holistic model that meets the unique needs of youth navigating foster care, housing instability, probation, or other difficult circumstances. Students accomplish their academic goals through a flex-scheduling, credit recovery model and also benefit from New Earth’s wraparound services, including mental health support, vocational training, arts and enrichment programs, nutritional support, and more.
Rivet School and Alder Graduate School of Education are collaborating to fix the broken pipeline for school-based workers, often low-income people of color from local communities, to become teachers. Ultimately, this will lead to a stronger and more racially diverse educator workforce and alleviate teacher shortages. While working full time, Rivet School students will earn their BA and then go on to earn a MA and teaching credential at Alder GSE – unlocking economic opportunity and a fulfilling lifelong career in education.
SEED School of Los Angeles will be the first public, college-prep, boarding STEM high school in South LA for youth who truly need a nurturing, safe environment. All students will come from families that qualify for the free and reduced lunch program, and priority admission will be given to foster youth, homeless/housing insecure youth, or youth with an incarcerated family member. SEED integrates a rigorous academic program with a nurturing boarding program that serves students five days a week, 24 hours a day. LA2050 grant funds will be used to ramp-up to the school opening in August 2022.
Finalists in the LIVE Category
City Plants applied for support for Commonwealth Nursery, a public-private partnership to grow climate and community resilience. Located on an 11-acre site in Griffith Park, the nursery supports LA’s tree canopy equity goals through growing trees from locally-sourced seed, and distributing them via a partnership with LADWP’s Free Trees Program, with priority given to low canopy neighborhoods. City Plants is also collaborating with LA Conservation Corps to create a Green Workforce Development Program for at-risk young adults at the nursery.
Healing California provides free, quality dental and vision care to uninsured and underrepresented Los Angelenos, including veterans and homeless individuals and families, in collaboration with local health clinics and other nonprofit organizations. Funds will support Healing California’s mobile healthcare program, delivering free, quality dental and vision care for up to 900 uninsured and underrepresented individuals in Los Angeles County over the grant period.
Shower of Hope operates 25 community resource hubs in partnership with other organizations that bring services, hygiene, and dignity to unhoused Angelenos. The organization ensures that unhoused guests at the weekly shower sites have access to meals, clothing, showers, hygiene items, and an immediate connection to a case manager. The grant would allow Shower of Hope to open two new hubs in service-deprived areas of Los Angeles County, bringing its shower trailers and services to 80 additional Angelenos per week.
Western Center on Law and Poverty works to make sure people experiencing poverty are protected in California law. The organization’s tactics include the following: pursuing high-impact court cases on topics including eviction defense, medical patients’ rights, and anti-discrimination; advocating for anti-poverty legislation; and empowering legal aid attorneys to defend low-income clients. As Los Angeles recovers from COVID-19, Western Center is fighting for equitable access to healthcare and housing.
Westside Pacific Villages (WPV) is a community of 300 volunteers helping older adults remain active and independent as they age at home and in their neighborhoods. The grant will support WPV’s COVID-19 Action Response for Elderly Support, a program keeping seniors physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy during the pandemic with services such as grocery delivery, virtual activities, weekly check-in calls, PPE distribution, and more. The program will soon shift towards helping its participants transition back to “normal” life.
Finalists in the PLAY Category
Angel City Sports supports people with disabilities reaching their fullest potential to engage with their communities as well as help the community discover how to proactively and respectfully practice disability inclusion. The organization offers a spectrum of adaptive wellness opportunities for adults and children with physical disabilities to support their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Individuals of all abilities from the general public also have an opportunity to participate in these activities.
CicLAvia is partnering with LA Forward and Los Angeles Walks for WalkLAvia, a dedicated week for Angelenos to get back outside. Designed to address the social and emotional toll of the pandemic, WalkLAvia will give people the tools and confidence to reimagine their streets in ways that promote safety and joy for all. One such tool will be a “How to WalkLAvia Guide” that will include a series of fun challenges—like visiting a local business or having a picnic—along with a survey to collect observations on walkability, street safety, transit, and open space.
Color the Water is committed to fighting racism, reclaiming coastal land and waters, and changing surf culture in Los Angeles. Through free surf lessons for BIPOC, education on surf history and culture, and original media content that elevates representation, the organization is returning surfing to its roots. Color the Water envisions a more inclusive surf culture based on a love and respect for the ocean centered in sharing, community and compassion, while helping surfers care for and protect the ocean and each other.
East Side Riders Bike Club gives children in Watts an alternative to gangs and drugs by hosting group bike rides, purchasing helmets and used bikes for children living in poverty, teaching bicycle safety and repair, and working with government and community leaders to create safe bike travel lanes. The organization also embeds community service into its program, helping children to increase their confidence and self esteem while building a sense of community through activities such as feeding hungry families and hosting neighborhood cleanups.
Sloane Stephens Foundation (SSF) combats social, economic, and academic inequalities by creating educational opportunities and safe spaces to play and grow. SSF’s tennis programming is designed to positively impact the lives of students far beyond the tennis court through the transformative power of healthy habits, self-confidence, and education. The organization aims to use tennis as its vehicle to change the narrative of poverty, health inequity, and educational underdevelopment in Compton.
Finally, if you’d like to read about previous LA2050 grant recipients, see the My LA2050 Ideas Archive or this list of previous winners.