A list of free and affordable events in LA December 12th - 31st
This December, spend time with your friends and family while supporting local organizations. Most events are accessible by public transportation as well. Happy holidays, everyone!
Location: 453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Getting there: Less than 5-min walk from Pershing Square Station (Metro Red/Purple Line)
Location: 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Getting there: Buses 8 or R12 from Westwood/Rancho Station (Metro Expo Line). Closest bus stops are also serviced by lines 6, 6R, 234, 602, 734, and 788
Location: 600 State Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037
Getting there: Less than 10-min walk from Expo Park/USC Station (Metro Expo Line)
Location: 12601 Mulholland Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Getting there: Hike, bike or carpool from the closest bus stops, which are serviced by lines 150, 240, 750, and 218
Location: 135 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Getting there: 5-min walk from Civic Center/Grand Park Station (Metro Red/Purple Line)
Location: 4949 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042
Getting there: Closest bus stops are serviced by lines 83 and DASH Highland Park/Eagle Rock
Location: 200 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Getting there: Civic Center/Grand Park Station (Metro Red/Purple Line), or less than 15-min walk from Pershing Square Station (Metro Red/Purple Line)
The LA2050 Gift Guide features some of our favorite local products from organizations that make an impact. When you shop - you do good: The organizations behind these products provide work for those transitioning out of homelessness and gang involvement, encourage creativity in young students, promote nature conservation and education, and fight against food insecurity. Happy shopping!
The Giving Keys is an LA-based social enterprise that provides living-wage jobs for individuals transitioning out of homelessness.
NHM's Wild LA book ($24.95)
Equal parts nature guide and trip planner, the Natural History Museum's Wild LA unveils the hidden nature in every park and canyon—and even your own neighborhood.
Membership to the LA Zoo ($60)
Founded in 1966, The Los Angeles Zoo is home to more than 1,400 mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles representing more than 270 different species and even 58 species that are endangered.
Food Forward fights hunger and prevents food waste by rescuing fresh surplus produce, connecting this abundance with people in need and inspiring others to do the same.
CicLAvia catalyzes vibrant public spaces, active transportation and good health through car-free street events.
The Two Bit Circus Foundation is a nonprofit educational organization designed to cultivate the next generation of inventors, advance environmental stewardship, and spur community engagement.
Homeboy Industries has provided hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and recently incarcerated men and women. All proceeds from its social enterprises, including Homegirl Cafe, benefit the nonprofit's comprehensive wraparound programming.
826LA Author Mug ($14.99)
826LA sells unique products in its Time Travel Mart to support its work encouraging students ages six to 18 to develop their creative and expository writing skills.
MADE by DWC is a social enterprise operated by the Downtown Women's Center that provides job training and employment for women transitioning out of homelessness.
LA Original, a pilot program of the Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles and the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, was developed to celebrate LA as the creative capital of the world.
SEE-LA operates local farmers' markets, encourages sustainable food systems, and promotes activities that both benefit low-to-moderate individuals and support small businesses.
First published by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1965, the sixth edition of An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles now contains ninety-six sections organized in thirteen geographic chapters, boasting over 200 new additions to its thousands of entries.
Griffith Observatory Planetarium Tickets ($3-7)
Griffith Observatory is a regional landmark and global leader in public astronomy. Since it opened in 1935, more people have looked through Griffith Observatory's telescope than any other telescope on Earth.
It's National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an event started at Villanova University 44 years ago and today sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. This event is held the week before Thanksgiving and used to draw public attention to the issue of poverty and encourage people to donate their time, attention, and resources to others.
In this spirit, here are 11 organizations working to combat hunger and homelessness in Los Angeles, and how you can get involved:
Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I, is meant to honor those who have served the country and to thank living veterans for their sacrifices. We want to celebrate the day by highlighting organizations that support and empower veterans that have applied to the My LA2050 Grants Challenge. Take a look and find an organization you'd be interested in supporting!
Feeling inspired by the projects in the 2019 My LA2050 Grants Challenge Report? Every person has the power to make a difference. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Sign up for the LA2050 newsletter: Twice a month we send updates from grantees and partners, job listings, local events, and more to keep you up-to-date on opportunities to get involved. Sign up here.
2. Volunteer: Consider donating your time or skills to support a local organization or nonprofit that is working on a particular topic or cause that you are passionate about. Get started by checking out these volunteer opportunities from LA2050 grantees.
3. Replicate a great idea: Did you see a project that made you think “we need this"? Take inspiration from one of the projects from this year's grants challenge or browse the LA2050 Ideas Archive with more than six years of proposals from amazing organizations. Pick one that inspires you, and reach out to the organization to see how you can help bring the project to life for your community.
4. Collaborate and partner: Look for opportunities to engage with local organizations, nonprofits, and businesses that are working on social causes directly related to your industry. If you're looking for ideas, take a look at our metrics to identify where you can make progress toward each goal.
5. Make impact locally: Consider everything you do an opportunity to make an impact! Take small steps every day that can have a major impact in the long run, such as supporting your local farmer's market, purchasing sustainable products, participating in the census, or getting involved with your local neighborhood council. Use your voice, strategize and organize around a particular issue that matters to you, such as improving access to healthy foods, reducing homelessness, or reducing your carbon footprint.
6. Start conversations: Some of the biggest social change movements start with a simple question. Start conversations with your friends, family, and co-workers about things you learned from these proposals or trends from this grants challenge. From educating your neighbors, coworkers, and friends about the U.S. census to bringing a “pop-up" or mobile experience to your community to using trends for academic research and school projects related to social impact, everything can spark change.
This report highlights the trends we observed in the 2019 My LA2050 grants challenge and looks at how local leaders, nonprofits, volunteers, government entities, and businesses are working together to make Los Angeles a better place for all. (For a pdf version, click here).
Every year, the Goldhirsh Foundation operates the My LA2050 Grants Challenge in which we solicit proposals from nonprofit, for-profit, and government organizations for projects that will better our region. Through the My LA2050 Grants Challenge, Angelenos help us determine how to grant $1,000,000 in Los Angeles. After each grants challenge, we identify and examine trends from the submissions. We will be releasing the trends from the 2019 challenge soon, so I wanted to look back at five trends that emerged from last year's submissions:
“On-Ramps” for Women
2018 was dubbed “The Year of the Woman” and brought a surge in women's engagement in politics, business, and civic life. Applicants reflected this trend through the many proposals focused on providing “on-ramps” for women in key industries like politics, finance, and the arts.
Civic Engagement and Voting
Angelenos were craving greater involvement in the political process. We saw several proposals aimed at fostering civic engagement, from involvement in local politics to increased voter turnout.
We saw a number of proposals related to homelessness, ranging from service provision to high-level policy and advocacy work. Organizations across LA County were harnessing the momentum of legislation like Measure H and Prop HHH by advocating for more affordable housing, while also informing Angelenos about the realities of homelessness, the fragility of local housing, and the benefits of being a YIMBY (not a NIMBY).
Creative Workforce Preparation
While science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce preparation has been popular for a number of years, in 2018 we saw proposals that merged STEM with the arts and creative industries. Some of our favorite examples of these projects were preparing youth for a workforce where the line between innovation and art has already become less clear.
Small Business and Entrepreneurs
Small businesses are the backbone of LA's economy, and entrepreneurs demonstrate the abundance of Angelenos' creativity. Many of last year's proposals recognized the need to invest more in our makers and workers so that the city's economic spirit can flourish.
You can read more about the trends from the 2018 grants challenge here.
It only takes a small spark to light a fire. The LA2050 Grants Challenge aims to be that spark for organizations with fierce ideas to improve this city's future. We recently caught up with two of our grantees who are doing just that - CASA of Los Angeles and Changeist. Since they first became part of the LA2050 community, they've grown to touch the lives of many more and to foster further connections within, and outside of, Los Angeles.
Building Momentum with LA2050
“The first LA2050 grant [in 2014] was absolutely catalytic for us in terms of really helping us launch ourselves and our 2.0 version," says Kristen McGuiness, CASA of LA's Director of Institutional Giving.
The Los Angeles chapter of CASA, a national association that promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children, is comparatively new to being an independent non-profit organization. Though it started in 1978 as one of the first CASA programs, it only transitioned into relying on private funding back in 2010.
“In 2010, we lost all court funding virtually overnight because of the 2008 economic crisis," Kristen says. “For most of the last 9 years, we had very little government funding and had to start doing all private fundraising. So between 2010 and 2014, we were really building that up."
Changeist, the organization previously known as Big Citizen HUB, was similarly in its fledgling phase when it won a grant from LA2050 in 2016 during its second year of operation. Since then, the Changeist team has expanded its programming to include more middle school and high school youth, and also have been incorporated into Governor Newsom's 9-point plan to increase civic engagement of Californians.
“It was a wild opportunity that we wouldn't have been able to get without LA2050 first," says Changist CEO Mario Fedelin. “That level of investment gave us a real boost and runway that small nonprofit organizations don't always get."
Full Steam Ahead
While both organizations are grappling with large-scale problems, Kristen and Mario are also excited to address them with large-scale solutions.
“When you look at all of [the] pieces that help a human to either be successful or to be challenged in life," Kristen conveys, “the foster care system is probably the greatest hurdle any child or youth can overcome."
It is particularly difficult in LA County, which has the largest population of foster care youth of any county in the nation. Though CASA of LA has grown into one of the largest CASA programs in the country today - serving over 1,000 children with one-on-one advocacy and mobilizing close to 1,000 volunteers - Kristen acknowledges that they still have much more work cut out for them.
“We have identified roughly 12,000 youth profiles who could use an immediate CASA volunteer," she says. “We're hoping that in the next decade we're able to scale to serve all 12,000 of those youth by then."
As one of this year's LA2050 CONNECT winners, CASA of LA will recruit and train community volunteers to stand by youth facing juvenile delinquency and oversee them through LA County's newly founded Diversion program.
“Back in the day, this might've come up but nobody at the table would've necessarily asked CASA to do it because they would've never presumed we'd have the bandwidth to do that," Kristen says. “Now they know we do."
Meanwhile, Changeist will be taking on its second city, Stockton, in the fall, and has plans to expand into another Central Valley city in the near future.
In addition to growing laterally, Changeist has also begun developing into what Mario considers “a fully end-to-end ecosystem." Earlier this year, the organization transitioned into an AmeriCorps program, which will create a full-time opportunity for community members to recruit and lead its youth teams. In time, it'll become a way for the Changeist community to continue the work they may have started when they were 11, as well as a valuable pipeline for these youths to learn how to take on bigger roles.
Having been recently awarded an Obama Foundation Fellowship, Mario is confident that he can use this experience to further his long-term goal of changing the narrative around community-based work.
“If we as a society put our children in sports because we know something good happens there, why aren't we doing the same thing for community service or leadership or activism?" Mario asks.
Ultimately, Changeist's greater goal is to be able to influence the way people look at postsecondary experiences, such that doing a year of Changeist or AmeriCorps is considered a valid path.
“Our young people have the answers that we need and that we're looking for," Mario says. “They're going to be leading community agencies. They're already doing the work." Changeist is one pathway, one starting point, to help get them where they want to go, but the most important thing to remember is that Los Angeles needs to invest in this city's next generation to pave the way forward.
At the same time, CASA of LA is hopeful that more Angelenos will continue to step up and volunteer. “This really is about our city and it's really about connection," Kristen stresses. “The more CASA volunteers we recruit, the more youth we can serve. Not only is it about the more children's lives we can change, but ultimately it's about changing the LA community."
Volunteering can change your life, and these organizations have seen it firsthand. Though volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time, only 24.1 percent of Los Angeles residents currently volunteer on an annual basis (Corporation For National and Community Service). As we continue to work toward a better Los Angeles together, we've compiled a list of volunteer opportunities with some of our LA2050 grantees so that you can find out how to get involved.
From taking action on climate change and educating the next generation to championing economic justice and preserving our history, there is bound to be a cause you're passionate about. Check out the opportunities below:
🌟 CASA of Los Angeles connects children in the dependency system with trained volunteer advocates, who are often some of the most consistent anchors for foster children. These Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers collaborate with others in the child's life to give them an opportunity to succeed.
🌟 Defy Ventures provides formerly incarcerated people a second chance through entrepreneurship training programs and business incubators. Volunteers assist with business coaching events, pitch competitions, and other community building workshops both inside and outside of prison.
🌟 LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is a museum that celebrates the history, culture, values, and traditions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and all Latinos in Southern California. Volunteers have the opportunity to provide in-gallery support and facilitate hands-on workshops.
🌟 826LA supports students aged 6-18 in developing their creative and expository writing skills through tutoring and workshops. Their volunteer force participates in a variety of programs, such as after-school tutoring, teaching workshops in their writing lab, and assisting with their yearly Young Authors' Book Project.
🌟 The Natural History Museum of LA County houses the largest natural and cultural history collection in the western United States. Volunteers can apply to engage with visitors in their galleries, support their museum team behind-the-scenes, or help with their events and programs.
🌟 Harlem Lacrosse works with at-risk students to provide a full-day, year-round holistic support system in addition to lacrosse training. Volunteer opportunities range from event support to long-term tutoring, mentoring, and coaching of their students.
🌟 Venice Community Housing maintains affordable housing units throughout Venice, Mar Vista, and Del Rey and provides comprehensive programs including job training and family services. Volunteer opportunities range from teaching and gardening to supporting community service events and advocacy.
🌟 United Way LA's mission is to break the cycle of poverty for low-income families, students, veterans, and people experiencing homelessness. Volunteers can choose to help out with a variety of programs including events, long-term youth mentoring, and cooking and wellness.
🌟 Heal the Bay is dedicated to making the coastal waters and watersheds of Greater Los Angeles safe, healthy, and clean. Volunteers assist with monthly beach cleanups, creative projects at the office, outreach and community science at their aquarium, and more.
🌟 Miry's List connects new arrival refugee families with people who are interested in helping them get what they need in starting their new lives. They have many volunteer opportunities ranging from serving as a family advocate to translating and fundraising.
🌟 Homeboy Industries' mission is to provide hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Volunteers can support efforts including tattoo removal, legal assistance, mental health services, and educational assistance.
🌟 TreePeople engages people in envisioning and creating a greener Los Angeles. Volunteers can assist in enhancing our urban environment through planting and caring for trees, removing invasive species, and more.
🌟 The Youth Movement Against Alzheimer's is committed to changing the perception of Alzheimer's Disease through youth activism and awareness. Volunteers can support the organization through assisting with advocacy efforts or caregiving services.
If you'd like to explore opportunities with other organizations, visit our database of project ideas from past LA2050 grants challenges at archive.la2050.org and search by issue area, geographic location, and more.
In honor of international podcast day we thought we'd share some of our recommendations for social impact podcasts. What are some of your favorites?