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?
Over the last 10 years, Los Angeles County has been working to improve the voting process for its 5.2 million registered voters. In March 2020, locals will get to cast their votes through this redesigned system during California's presidential primary.
Excited to give this new system a try? So are we!
The great news is that you won't have to wait till March. LA County will be holding mock elections on September 28-29 at 50 locations county-wide to test this system. Non-registered voters, including high school students, are also invited!
Learn more about how to participate here. We hope to see you out there voting! But until then, here are the five major changes to your voting experience that you should know about:
1. Polls will now be open for 11 days instead of 13 hours.
There will now be a longer time frame for you to cast your vote, as LA County officials believe that their new voting machines will significantly cut down on issues with crowding and mechanical breakdowns.
These new machines, developed by Silicon Valley design company IDEO, will marry paper ballots with touch screens that feel like using an ATM or checking in at the airport. Voters will use the screen to review their choices, feed a paper ballot into the machine, and simply press a button to complete their vote.
2. You can vote at any polling location within LA County instead of a specific designated polling place.
Despite there being 4,800 polling places county-wide, locals currently don't have much choice when it comes to choosing where to cast their votes. This new process will issue each registered voter a QR code based on their address that they can then scan at any polling location to call up the specific ballot they need.
3. Voting machines will be more accessible.
The LA County region is both enormous and multi-lingual. In prioritizing accessibility for all voters, including voters with different types of disabilities and different levels of English proficiency, these new voting machines will feature adjustable displays that make it easy to select from various languages and adjust the text size, as well as include built-in headphones. By allowing voters to submit their votes on-the-spot, this process will also reduce the amount of walking otherwise required of voters at current polling places.
4. You can expedite your voting experience by pre-marking your votes at home.
Voters living a fast-paced lifestyle will be fans of the new expedited experience this process offers. As long as you're connected to the Internet, you'll be able to access a web platform called the Interactive Sample Ballot where you can pre-mark your votes. It'll generate a QR code that you can then scan in-person at the polling location and the machine will simply pre-populate the ballot for you to review. Goodbye manual copying-and-pasting, hello convenience!
5. You can both register and change your registration on-site.
LA County's new polling model will use electronic pollbooks for poll staffers to verify your eligibility in real time. This will allow them to register you to vote immediately on-site and help bar people from voting at multiple locations. This means voters can now avoid the gray area of provisional ballots and show up fully reassured that they're making a difference.
This is an update on the winning proposal from the CREATE category in the 2018 activation challenge. See the original proposal here.
Since we received the LA2050 grant in August 2018, the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign reached a major milestone: Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in November 2018 to adopt a permit system for sidewalk vending, finally leading to the legalization of sidewalk vending within the City of LA!
The impact of this legislation is enormous. More than 50,000 street vendors operate in the City of Los Angeles alone, representing a $504 million industry. With legalization, we can expect to see these numbers grow as street vending becomes a safer way to make a living — especially for women and people of color.
For the campaign's core partners, East LA Community Corporation, Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC), and Public Counsel, the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign has always been about both protecting the rights and dignity of some of the most vulnerable workers in the city, and providing them with greater economic opportunity. Approximately 80 percent of street vendors are women of color who contribute to the rich, diverse street food landscape through the informal economy — and when allowed to do their work legally and safely — contribute to the vitality of their neighborhoods and LA as a whole.
Take a look at this piece by KCET that covers the most recent history of our campaign and shares stories of vendors across the city.
The ordinance passed by City Hall will allow street vendors to do just that, and comes after nearly a decade of advocacy from thousands of street vendors and their supporters. But there's still much work to be done. Throughout 2019, we've focused our organizing efforts on three major components: ensuring the City of Los Angeles permit regulations are fair and inclusive; doing outreach to vendors across the region to make sure they know their rights under SB946, the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act; and, building the capacity of vendors by hosting workshops on healthy food and financial resources to make sure they are ready for the implementation of a permit program in 2020.
What's next? Summits, workshops, and success
On Friday, March 22, 2019 hundreds of local street vendors filled the cafeteria and classrooms of Los Angeles Trade Technical College. This was the First Street Vendor Summit hosted since we won legalization. It provided vendors from across LA County with several workshops on how to become a successful vendor under the new rules and regulations passed by the City. There were four major topics covered by the workshops:
After the summit, we began a series of five capacity-building workshops. We held three workshops on healthy food menus, health equity and food justice, and two on financial planning so that vendors can plan for new carts and permits. Through this, we were able to provide information and resources to 120 vendors. In this implementation phase, we are learning so much more about the people we have been advocating for; and they are teaching us more intimately their needs, empowering us to ensure their livelihoods are always at the forefront of policy, advocacy, and capacity building. We will host another series of workshops and clinics in late summer and early fall that will support vendors with the basics of operating a legitimate business, including obtaining seller's permits and food handling licenses.
What we learned
This summit and workshops were not only a learning experience for the vendors, but also one for us. It reignited some of our longstanding concerns and highlighted that it will take all of us - vendors, consumers, advocates, and allies - to make sure that vendors are properly and responsibly brought into the formal economy. We put these lessons into a summary sheet to get the word out about our concerns and our hopes for the future. These concerns also guided conversations at the coalition meeting on July 18, where 25 organizations re-committed to engage during this phase of the campaign by working on issues related to park vending, cart innovation, outreach, and continued policy advocacy. The coalition will continue to organize and work with vendors to develop vendor based solutions to these concerns, and we will continue to engage public agencies to work on improving the legal vending program.
To uplift the work that vendors and allies have done to legalize street vending, we launched a digital advocacy campaign this month to spread awareness of street vending by sharing stories of “Vendors in Action." Through highlighting why they vend and celebrating their contributions to the fabric of our city, we hope to showcase how vendors are both entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities. This will activate people who are both familiar and unfamiliar with street vendors in LA. This campaign will be using a fixed set of hashtags in both Spanish and English to reach as many people as possible, and ideally create a social media movement to demystify street vending and further normalize their entrepreneurship and leadership in our city.
We will continue to define and measure our success through the number of new micro-enterprise jobs that are created as a result of legalization, and the number of existing vendors that are trained to manage their businesses, and eventually, navigate the new permit process. We will also continue to tell the story of the LA Street Vendor Movement, and track our progress through engagement on social media. We will continue the digital advocacy campaign through June, and then have another push in August to showcase new work on rules and regulations.
We're thrilled to be sharing this critical moment in the campaign with everyone involved in the LA2050 Activation Challenge. This grant allows us to activate Angelenos to engage in and build an inclusive economy that supports tens of thousands of workers, whose entrepreneurship often shapes our neighborhood economies and cultural landscape.
For more information on the campaign and/or to get involved in supporing #LAStreetVendors, contact Carla De Paz [email protected]
Communities taking action to stop “bad apple" gun dealers
This is an update on the winning proposal from the PLAY category in the 2018 activation challenge. See the original proposal here.
Brady is proud to continue to report on our Combating Crime Guns Initiative: Los Angeles. The Combating Crime Guns Initiative (CCGI) is a multi-pronged strategy to stem the flow of crime guns into cities that are heavily impacted by gun violence. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 90% of crime guns (firearms that are illegally possessed, used in a crime, or suspected to have been used in a crime) are sold by just 5% of gun dealers. Through CCGI, we are using a supply side approach to gun violence, identifying and reforming these gun dealers that are flooding cities with crime guns.
The Brady Center is partnering with the Goldhirsh Foundation's LA2050 initiative to bring CCGI to Los Angeles and help ensure that in 2050, Los Angelenos of all ages will enjoy safe homes, safe neighborhoods, and safe places to play. Under LA2050's 'Play' goal, our project applies to two metrics: per capita crime rate and perceived safety. Looking at our progress over the past year, we are more confident than ever in CCGI's ability to impact these measures over time.
Progress so Far
After the hiring of our Program Manager, Steve Lindley, our work in Los Angeles accelerated significantly. Steve is an experienced community liaison with over 28 years of experience in law enforcement. In the short period of time he's been with us, he's managed to accomplish a tremendous amount of work. As noted in our previous report, in just his first month as Program Manager, he met with the Los Angeles Mayor's Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Los Angeles area Brady Chapters to introduce himself and discuss strategies to reduce gun violence in the Los Angeles area.
As a result of these meetings, Steve was invited to assist the Mayor's Office in drafting legislation aimed at providing enhanced oversight of California firearms dealers, mandatory reporting and tracing of law enforcement seized crime guns, and enhancing the gun purchasing public's knowledge of California firearm and firearm safe storage laws. Steve was also a primary advisor to the Mayor's Youth Leadership Council in their 2019 Louder than Guns campaign.
Steve and Los Angeles area Brady chapter leadership have been instrumental in gaining support and votes for two important Los Angeles city measures. On June 5, 2019, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted for the expansion of the city's safe gun storage ordinance to include long-guns. On June 18, 2019, the Los Angeles Unified School District voted to educate parents about proper gun storage and their legal obligation to safely secure firearms. We hope to continue our working relationship with Los Angeles Unified on these issues and incorporate Brady's multimedia safe storage campaign, End Family Fire, into school curricula across the district. Steve is also working with local stakeholders to develop and execute a highschool-based gun safety education program that will activate young adults around gun violence prevention and educate them on simple actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of gun violence.
In late June, Steve testified before the California Senate's Public Safety Committee in support of Assembly Bill 165 (Gabriel), which will increase funding for law enforcement to bolster its use of Gun Violence Restraining Orders, which allow for the temporary removal of a firearm from an individual who is a danger to themselves or others. The bill passed the Senate's Public Safety Committee and we are eager to see it signed by Governor Newsom. Steve is also working on a public education campaign that targets firearms dealers responsible for a disproportionate number of crime guns recovered in Los Angeles.
Political and legislative restrictions to gun dealer liability continue to be a hurdle. However, with a legal and policy team dedicated to these issues, we are well positioned to handle these challenges. Emerging and upcoming challenges include building out our relationships and coalitions to assist in preventing further gun violence, continuing to identify the sources of crime guns, activating youth movement around gun violence prevention, and adapting our various national gun violence campaigns for implementation on the local scale.
What's to Come
In the coming months, we look forward to how our 2019 and 2020 legislative concepts will be implemented at the State level. We are also eager to see how our the Louder Than Guns and the Los Angeles Unified School District's safe firearm campaign impact the City of Los Angeles. We will be working hard to push forward our crime gun dealer public awareness campaign and our youth education program. Finally, we will continue to strengthen our working relationship with the Los Angeles Mayor's Office and other national and local gun violence prevention and youth-focused groups to maximize our impact and reach.