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Making LA the Best Place to Connect

Posted April 27, 2020 by Team LA2050

In this year's My LA2050 Grants Challenge, we received 67 submissions in the CONNECT goal category. This category represents the goal that every resident in our region has the opportunity to engage and interact with fellow Angelenos and feels empowered to contribute meaningfully in the civic process.

Within this goal category you'll find projects that address civic engagement, arts and culture, volunteerism, community-building, technology, access and inclusion, health, wellness, and trauma response, hunger and homelessness, immigrant rights, foster youth, and the environment.

Stay tuned as we'll be featuring the LEARN goal category next week!

Civic Engagement

LA Forward provides Angelenos with the resources and training they need to take constructive action and organize to make LA a better place. The LA 101 campaign, a collaboration between LA Forward and Inclusive Action, aims to transform LA into one of the nation's most civically engaged places by providing resources that lower the barriers to entry for individuals who want to take their first steps into local activism and advocacy.

Changeist immerses young people in 6-month civic action experiences that empower them to make the world a better place. As the only AmeriCorps State program model that uses service as a strategy to grow civic engagement among youth, its proposal aims to expand the program to bring on 15 additional AmeriCorps members over the next year and to engage an additional 300 youth across Los Angeles.

SameSide is a peer-to-peer web-based events platform that encourages grassroots political engagement by allowing activists to connect their gathering to a cause. The goal of its proposal is to empower 1,000 unique hosts in Los Angeles between July and November 2020 to hold events that promote voting and political engagement.

Students Run LA aims to challenge underserved secondary students to experience goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring, and improved health by training for and completing the Los Angeles Marathon. In collaboration with the Civics Center, its proposal seeks to build an active, civically-minded electorate among the greater Latinx community in historically underrepresented neighborhoods through student-led voter registration drives in majority Latinx schools.

Novelly aims to spark activism in young people through relatable and engaging young adult fiction. The organization seeks to expand on its Novelly Leadership Academy, an 8-week online training program using the Novelly app, to empower students to facilitate and moderate high-quality civic discussions with their peers.

Facing History and Ourselves aims to create the next generation of caring and informed citizens by using lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. The organization proposes expanding its social-emotional learning program, Facing History, to support over 9,000 teachers in creating a strong cohort of civically-engaged youth in LA.

Venice Family Clinic, which provides quality and comprehensive healthcare to underserved families and individuals, proposes launching the non-partisan civic engagement initiative, West L.A. Votes! Through this project, the Clinic would mobilize West L.A. residents to vote by training volunteers to connect residents with voting resources and educating Angelenos about national, state, and local government via video shorts, a 'Lunch & Learn' series, and more.

Arts and Culture

National Association of Latino Independent Producers is one of the leading organizations prioritizing a Latinx pipeline in the entertainment industry. Its Emerging Content Creators Inclusion Initiative would provide emerging artists from underrepresented communities with valuable knowledge, resources and an accessible point of entry into entertainment via workshops and mentorship.

Free Arts is a nonprofit that uses art to restore hope, resiliency, and self-esteem in children ages 5-18 who have experienced abuse, neglect, poverty, and homelessness. The goal of the proposal is to serve over 22,000 low-income youth in Los Angeles by making the organization's four core programs – Free Arts Mentoring, Free Arts Days, Free Arts for Families, and the Free Arts Court Program – free of charge.

Heidi Duckler Dance creates place-based dance performances that transform vacant and non-traditional spaces. Its project, Los Angeles Street, seeks to transform the LA Fashion District, improve its livability, and preserve its unique “maker" culture by establishing an artist residency with a pop-up performance venue, discovery space for exhibits, performances, workshops, and more.

Arts Bridging the Gap highlights the voices, experiences, and self-expression of LA's youth through immersive arts programs. The 100 Murals for Peace project encourages artistic expression in under-resourced communities by encouraging thousands of kids to engage in painting murals, thereby developing a true creative connection to their communal spaces.

Creative Acts seeks to heal trauma, build community, raise power, and amplify the voices of the most marginalized through art. The organization proposes expanding its 'Art Attacks' program to increase voter turnout among incarcerated and formerly incarcerated young people by engaging and inspiring them through community art, spoken word, and poetry, as well as connecting them with both program alumni and organizations whose work directly affects their communities.

Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore provides a positive space for people to create, imagine, and express themselves through ancestral knowledge, arts, literacy, and creative engagement. In collaboration with Pukúu Cultural Community Services, its project, the Indigenous In Us: Embracing Ancestral Knowledge and Sharing the Beauty of Practice, aims to engage Northeast San Fernando residents in learning, reflecting, and sharing indigenous-based history, lessons, skills, and practices via workshops and ceremonies.

The Neighborhood Music School serves students from Boyle Heights and the communities of East Los Angeles, where public art is rarely experienced. The goal of its Community Performance Series is to foster community pride in neighborhoods across East LA by providing free, high-quality, public musical performances.

The Skirball Cultural Center proposes organizing the Skirball Puppet Festival, a daylong profusion of puppet theatre including interactive performances, roaming marionettes, pageant puppets, live music, and puppet-making workshops. The aim of the festival is to engage multiple generations through puppetry arts and immersive storytelling and to create a shared experience around universally accessible stories.

Build A Better World Foundation supports the empowerment of youth and other charitable organizations by sponsoring concerts, musicals, and events. The organization proposes hosting the Build A Better World Foundation Concert to create awareness of and fundraise for existing nonprofits already working within the community, and to provide a platform for community and spiritual leaders to speak about the importance of coming together.

Good Trouble Makers is a practice-driven collaborative that investigates what anti-racist, queer dance making, teaching, and performing looks like. The group proposes collaborating with Downtown Dance & Movement to expand its social and concert dance and movement program, In Progress, to serve the disabled, queer, and POC communities in Los Angeles and showcase accessible dance.

Citizens of Culture uses arts to develop critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and to combat resource inequality. The organization proposes expanding Community Practice, an art-based and donation-based social emotional learning and mental health program that attempts to combat loneliness and develop emotional literacy via weekly community engagements, webinars, and online training.

International Eye LA transforms communities through arts, culture, and the humanities. In collaboration with Black Arts Los Angeles, Ideal Chalk, Belize Caye Fest, and more, the organization proposes curating the Leimert Park Village Festival Series and producing a Los Angeles Carnival to support, market, and re-imagine Leimert Park as a culturally-rich community and destination rooted in African-derived culture and traditions.

The Music Center proposes relaunching Dance DTLA, a series of diverse dance engagements featuring live music, DJ sets, and dance instruction, to help Angelenos from all demographic and economic backgrounds recover from social isolation. The project envisions transitioning from virtual dance parties to both online and in-person dance engagements through which the Music Center will collaborate with the League of Women Voters and the Los Angeles County Registrar to support voter registration.


Inspiring Service develops the technology and tools to enable volunteerism and social activism; the organization has been focused on rebuilding the volunteer ecosystem in Los Angeles for more than three years. Inspiring Service aims to work closely with the Mayor of LA and local nonprofit partners to transform its platform into a COVID-19 Assessment and Response system that shows the impact of COVID-19 on the county's social sector and recruits volunteers to help the sector recover.

L.A. Works, in collaboration with Everyone In–United Way, Audubon Society at Debs Park, and Councilmember Ryu, proposes expanding its Take Action Initiative by launching monthly bootcamps around three different issue areas – climate change, homelessness, and equity in education. The collaborative aims to mobilize over 1,000 volunteer advocates to address the root causes of these issues.

826LA supports students ages 6-18 with creative and expository writing skills and helps teachers inspire students to write. Through its Changing the Story project, the organization aims to grow its volunteer program by developing new outreach strategies and improving its training systems.

Dressember is a nonprofit that empowers communities to advocate for the dignity of all people and to fight human trafficking. The organization seeks to grow its community in LA by recruiting new volunteers to provide survivors of human trafficking with case management as well as education and job readiness services.


Kid City Hope Place aims to increase access to opportunities for young people to explore their intellectual curiosity and capacity, claim their education, and advocate for themselves and their communities. In collaboration with the Museum for Social Justice, Kid City Hope Place proposes creating a new LA Story by having young leaders facilitate story circles around museum exhibits to connect resident artists and curators with a new audience and build a deeper sense of community among young and marginalized individuals.

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community news project produced by youth. Voices, its story-sharing project, aims to build and strengthen relationships between youth and the elderly by training youth to be community reporters and tell the stories of both young and old.

Southern California Curling Center is the only facility dedicated to the sport of curling in Southern California. In partnership with Hollywood Curling, Triumph Foundation, Angel City Sports, and others, its Connect With Curling program aims to foster social connection by bringing different community groups together through curling sessions and a tournament.

Trauma Informed LA is an all-volunteer grassroots organization that aims to foster resilient communities that promote healing and well-being through collaboration, education, and community engagement. Its podcast Our Stories LA is a narrative-building project centering around the lived experiences of activists and healers. The goal of its proposal is to bolster intergenerational social and emotional connection through expanding on its podcast to include healing stories, events, and workshops.

Shared_Studios brings communities together in immersive spaces called Portals to talk, collaborate, and provide a source of creativity, positive, and strength for each other. Shared Studios aims to work with local organizations to co-create the LA_Portal, a pop-up community space where people can gather in small groups and explore ways to create a more vibrant and resilient city.

Camp Lost Boys is a nonprofit that offers retreats and immersive experiences for transgender men. It proposes collaborating with the Intentional Man Project to engage transgender and cisgender men of all experience in transforming the culture of masculinity and creating a shared brotherhood.

Center for Council delivers programs and trainings that promote communication, build community, enhance well-being, and foster compassion. It proposes launching the Circle Up Los Angeles project to offer every resident the opportunity to engage, interact, and come together by hosting weekly Councils that gather and connect a diverse cross-section of local communities to listen and share their stories.

LiteraTea is a website where individuals can write, share, and discuss stories aided by interactive courses and tools, live video, and communal support. The goal of the organization's proposal is to expand its services by creating tailored programs, such as specific courses, ancillary content, and instructional videos for underserved Angelenos, especially seniors, recent immigrants, and the homebound.

The Altadena Library District proposes implementing Curiosity Connection: Altadena Library on Wheels, an outreach initiative and mobile library program that aims to provide volunteer opportunities, WiFi access in areas of need, educational materials through mobile check-outs, events for community members to build cohesion, and more.

PLUS ME Project is dedicated to empowering middle and high school youth to increase their confidence for college, career, and community advancement by teaching the art of storytelling. In collaboration with GEAR UP 4 LA, the organization seeks to expand its project by hosting monthly story building training sessions for its volunteers and organizing quarterly storytelling mixers where volunteers, students, and the public can interact with, inspire, and listen to each other's stories.

Mighty Companions produces events, projects, and experiences to help shift an individual's worldview from one based on self-interest to caring for another. The organization proposes launching its project Making L.A. a Friendlier City, which aims to get people to connect with each other and come together as one city.


Startups in the Sky proposes launching an InTECHrity podcast and conference series to provide a critical platform for social justice advocates, software engineers, internet philosophers, and the startup community to reimagine and create a digital future that is safe, equitable, and just for all digital citizens.

EveryoneOn connects low-income families with affordable internet service and computers, and offers digital skills training. Its Connected and Empowered Communities virtual digital skills training program seeks to engage those who are most affected by the digital divide to ensure they develop the digital literacy skills required to access critical services, employment opportunities, and educational resources found online.

human-I-T provides low-income individuals and nonprofits with technology, internet, and digital literacy training. The organization proposes expanding its Include program, a self-paced, student-centered digital literacy class designed to help students, parents, and older family members harness all of the opportunity that lives online.

Halt is a company dedicated to empowering the city through long-term sustainable and dynamic infrastructural technologies. The organization aims to complete its operating system haltOS, which has analytics and metrics to assist in reducing congestion in cities, offering city WiFi to residents, increasing sources of revenue for cities, and more, with the goal of helping cities be ahead of the curve.

Civy is a cloud-based mobile platform that seeks to enable direct and productive conversation between city officials and residents. The goal of its proposal is to improve civic engagement in Los Angeles County by implementing its public outreach platform so that the LA government can efficiently share civic projects with residents and residents can thereby provide feedback in confidence or vote on these projects.

Access and Inclusion for People with Disabilities

Friendship Foundation supports families who have children with special needs through programs like Friendship Clubs, which are school-sanctioned clubs located in elementary, middle, and high schools across South Bay that bring special needs and general education children together to build a community of support and encouragement. This project focuses on impacting two populations in the South Bay and surrounding communities: children with special needs and students with a willingness and desire to volunteer.

Special Olympics Southern California provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Its Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program works closely with the LAUSD Adapted Physical Education Department to increase the social inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities on LAUSD campuses through providing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and engaging entire school communities.

Inclusion Matters by Shane's Inspiration aims to create social inclusion for children with disabilities through inclusive playgrounds and programs. In collaboration with LAUSD's Division of Special Education, its proposal, “Connect LA Families" aims to partner with five nonprofits in diverse, low-income communities to replicate its My PlayClub program, which provides families with fully integrated play events and online resources.

Social Cipher creates role-playing games that give autistic and other neuro-divergent youth a safe and accessible place to understand and apply social-emotional skills. Its proposal seeks support to finish developing and running subsidized pilots of its premier game series Ava, a space pirate-themed adventure game that breaks down social interactions through interactive dialogue and emotional systems, and encourages self-advocacy.

New Horizons aims to empower individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential. The goal of the organization's proposal is to develop and implement a coordinated transportation system using agency vehicles, public transportation, and other mobility options and expand opportunities for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to connect with the community through volunteerism, employment, social interaction, and more.

Health, Wellness, and Trauma Response

Walk With Sally provides individualized mentoring and community support services to empower children experiencing trauma through a loved one's cancer journey. Walk With Sally aims to expand its services by opening a satellite office in downtown Los Angeles to provide more families with temporary financial support and more children with Friendship Activities programming to help them cope with traumatic situations.

The Foundation for Living Beauty empowers women to increase their physical wellness and emotional stability while coping with cancer and chemotherapy. The organization proposes creating virtual programming to serve more women, especially those in disenfranchised populations, through wellness and holistic healing, which is a critical part of the cancer journey.

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles helps youth achieve their full potential by offering programs that facilitate and support positive youth development. Its free mobile app Teen Talk allows teens to anonymously seek social and emotional support from trained teen advisors. The goal of its proposal is to increase capacity and develop a local community of teens who will recreate this community in real life through increasing recruitment and training efforts.

Indigenous Circle of Wellness provides mental wellness services grounded in culturally inclusive holistic healing to build healthy relationships, families, and communities. Through its So'oh-Shinálí Sister Project, they aim to have a 40% increase in community members who receive social and emotional support. Its plan proposes hosting two large events to celebrate tribal culture, diversity, and resilience through visual and performing arts, as well as developing a toolkit on hosting such Indigenous community-focused arts events.

InsightLA is a meditation center in Los Angeles that serves more than 10,000 individuals annually. Its proposal seeks to expand its Insight in Action program by offering meditation teachings and community-building activities to individuals and organizations recovering from the effects of COVID-19.

Conscious Kids Project partners with schools in Los Angeles to teach students evidence-based yoga and meditation tools that improve physical and emotional health, academic potential, and overall well-being. The organization proposes empowering special education students through the Conscious Connections project, which aims to research, implement, assess, and design a yoga curriculum to reach 100 special education students across public schools in Los Angeles.

LASTing Impressions Center seeks to ensure that more people, particularly victims of violence and abuse, can recover from trauma through art therapy. The organization proposes providing individuals affected by violence and abuse with access to creative arts therapy, including art, music, writing, and dance, to help them undertake the healing process and connect with other individuals in a safe environment.

Creative Healing for Youth in Pain is a nonprofit that provides youth with chronic pain and their parents/caregivers with online resources that encourage creative healing and social support. The organization's proposal seeks to launch PhotoVoice, a pilot program that will empower participants to document their lives using cameras, thereby fostering individual and community change through social connections.

Voices Beyond Assault is dedicated to providing aid, resources, and innovative therapy for survivors of sexual assault. The goal of its proposal is to implement a coordinated multidisciplinary approach to ensure every survivor has access to support by launching its Beauty of Survival Project, which seeks to create safe environments where survivors can heal and celebrate through therapy, meditation, yoga, conversation sessions, writing experiences, and more.

Hunger and Homelessness

The Giving Spirit assembles and distributes survival kits to homeless men, women, children, and families living in greater Los Angeles. The goal of its proposal is to build stronger community support for programs that aid the homeless by expanding on its outreach and educational programs that promote shared dialogue between housed and homeless individuals.

resisterhoodLA partners with nonprofits to curate impactful, accessible, and inclusive volunteer opportunities for Angelenos. Its goal is to host four events over the next year to build and distribute 1,000 FLOWVEMBER menstrual hygiene kits to benefit individuals experiencing homelessness and combine hands-on volunteering with homelessness advocacy education.

Union Rescue Mission provides life-transforming programs to end homelessness for men, women, children, and families throughout Los Angeles County. Its project aims to provide critical services, medical care, support, and housing for families experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis, in addition to inspiring Angelenos to end homelessness once and for all with its #LoveLikeaHero campaign.

The Living Through Giving Foundation proposes expanding #HashtagLunchbag, its humanitarian movement that motivates people to prepare and distribute meals for people experiencing homelessness. The organization aims to extend its geographical outreach, increase the number of meals provided, and build greater awareness among a diverse group of volunteers around solutions to address food insecurity and homelessness.

Union Station Homeless Services aims to help individuals and families rebuild their lives and end homelessness across the San Gabriel Valley. The organization proposes expanding its Community Allies Program, which seeks to increase housing retention rates, improve community connection, and foster community integration between homeless individuals in bridge housing and formerly homeless individuals in permanent supportive housing by pairing individuals with a supportive community volunteer ally in addition to providing social and recreational activities.

Immigrant Rights

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights educates, legally protects, and advocates for immigrants to build their own power. As a coalition builder and national leader in immigrant rights, CHIRLA seeks support in expanding its work during the COVID-19 crisis to be a lifeline for immigrants through providing them with information, legally protecting them, and advocacy.

OneJustice connects underserved Californians in need of legal help with those who can provide it to ensure justice for all people living in California. In partnership with Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project and Central American Resource Center, this collaborative proposes implementing quarterly Asylum Legal Clinics and Resource Fairs to support asylum seekers in navigating immigration court cases and connect them with legal, mental health, medical, and community services and resources.

Miry's List provides a network for Americans to directly help their resettling refugee neighbors get what they need to start their new lives. The goal of the organization's proposal is to expand on its Welcome, Neighbor program to further engage 5,000 Angelenos in sustained, tangible service through organizing large-scale events, smaller-scale convenings, and other activations, such as Welcome, Neighbor days at schools.

Foster Youth

Korean American Family Services is a family resource center dedicated to empowering underserved Korean American and Asian Pacific Islander (API) families. The goal of its proposal is to change the trajectory of high risk youth in need by expanding community outreach, offering ongoing support groups for API foster parents, and providing emergency needs to API foster youth and their families.

Ready to Succeed is a nonprofit that supports and empowers youth impacted by foster care with the resources, relationships, and opportunities they need to launch successful careers and lead meaningful lives. The organization proposes establishing a sustainable and effective partnership with Stepping Forward LA to provide youth aging out of foster care with dedicated social and emotional support in addition to connecting them with the people and networks they need to advance in the modern workplace.


Climate Resolve is a nonprofit dedicated to combating climate change and helping vulnerable communities adapt to its impacts. Its One Day campaign aims to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging Angelenos to bike, walk, or take public transit once a week instead of driving to their destination, thereby changing how Los Angeles views transportation.

BREATHE California of Los Angeles County promotes clean air and healthy lungs through research, education, advocacy, and technology. The organization aims to collaborate with California State University, Northridge and Climate Cents on its proposed Blue Sky LA project, an air quality improvement program that seeks to engage residents through monthly volunteer opportunities, “citizen-driven" projects, community-based educational sessions, and more.

Investing in Place uses research, advocacy, and capacity-building to align policies and public dollars to support transportation investments that strengthen the Los Angeles region. In collaboration with ACT-LA, CicLAvia, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and Move LA, this group of organizations aims to create a new mobility movement that prioritizes equity, climate change, bikeable and walkable streets, and access to high-quality transit by building power together as an engaged and inclusive constituency.