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Trends in the 2021 My LA2050 Grants Challenge LEARN Category

Posted May 5, 2021 by LeAnn Kelch and Jake Bishop

At LA2050, the LEARN category represents our vision of a Los Angeles region that offers abundant, equitable opportunities for lifelong learning to all residents. By the year 2050, our local education system will be well-resourced and culturally-responsive, all children will have access to high-quality early education programs, and all families will be engaged and empowered to direct their student's learning. Students will graduate college- and career-ready, equipped to thrive in the workforce of the future. LA will capitalize on its concentration of higher education facilities to advance research and spur innovation.

We observed five trends in the 83 submissions this year's LEARN category:

  1. After more than a year of virtual instruction and distance learning for local K-12 students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no surprise that helping students to get back on track was a major theme among this year's applications. For example, the Greater South Bay STEM Foundation hopes to work with students to alleviate some of the math skills erosion that has occurred in this time. Other groups supporting local students post-pandemic, both virtually and in-person include Reading Partners, Alliance for a Better Community, City Year Los Angeles, and more.
  2. There was also a noticeable push to ensure that our region is supporting its most vulnerable students both inside and outside of the classroom. Applicants submitted proposals to ensure that current and former foster youth, young parents, systems-impacted and justice-involved youth, and students experiencing food insecurity and homelessness all were equipped with the resources to succeed in their education and in life. Groups working with these high-needs populations include the Santa Monica College Foundation, Stepping Forward LA, New Earth, United Friends of the Children, and the Assistance League of Los Angeles.
  3. Arts and music programs have demonstrated significant educational and social-emotional benefits for students. With this in mind, several submitters sought funding to expand access to these opportunities, especially for students attending under-resourced schools. Some of these programs include Get Lit's interactive poetry platform, artworxLA's podcasting workshops, Fender Play Foundation's in-school music programming, Village Arts's theater program, and Turnaround Arts California's school curriculum support.
  4. A number of applicants proposed programs featuring creative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities that will engage and inspire local K-12 students. For example, both the Griffith Observatory Foundation and the Natural History Museum applied for funding to restart their onsite field trip programs for local students with reopening while organizations like DIY Girls, Engineer Factory, and the Two Bit Circus Foundation honed in on their project-based and experiential programs. And, a coalition of leading STEM organizations in LA including Expand LA, AltaSea, California Science Center, Columbia Memorial Space Center, Discovery Cube, Los Angeles Maritime Institute, Roundhouse Aquarium, and TreePeople applied with a proposal for "STEM for All Seasons" to serve thousands of local students.
  5. Overall, the most popular impact metric selected in this year's LEARN category was “enrollment in afterschool programs," with 32 applicants indicating that their work would engage more students in learning outside of the regular school day. Tactics range from in-person activities to online tutoring. Some of the organizations seeking to expand their afterschool opportunities include Urban Warehouse, Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena, Boys and Girls Club of Venice, Heart of Los Angeles, and more.


Learn more about all of the proposals:

With grants challenge funding, Building Blocks for Kids hopes to eliminate poverty in underrepresented LA communities by giving high school students the chance to be financially-literate and career-ready.

Applicant Get Lit's proposal focuses on Uni(verse), a unique, interactive poetry platform designed with youth voices and stories at the center.

If selected as a winner, Kenny Young's Tackle Young Foundation would bring its seminars, workshops, and enrichment programs to elementary schools in underserved areas.

PEBSAF seeks funding for its innovative program that teachers, parents, and students use to plan for higher education and graduate with a bachelor's degree or higher.

"Improving Math Scores, Improving Lives," the submission from Impact 6 seeks to help LA students struggling after a year of distance learning.

Alliance for a Better Community's My LA2050 proposal, "Beyond Recovery," seeks to help LA's Latino community thrive after COVID-19 by increasing college attainment.

Nuleep applied to fund its HEXAGON program, which empowers opportunity youth in LA with professional and technical skills through experiential learning.

The proposal from Partnership for Los Angeles Schools entitled "Ready, Set, Go!" focuses on the organization's college readiness and educational equity work with LAUSD.

Venice Institute of Contemporary Art mentors at-risk and disenfranchised youth and young adults to provide them with the confidence, skills, and expertise they will need to succeed in a career in the arts.

Hope Housing for Students seeks to continue its work providing housing opportunities for community college students experiencing either homelessness or housing insecurity for its proposal.

Seed School of Los Angeles County is a public, college-prep boarding STEM high school in South LA that will give priority admission to foster youth, homeless/housing insecure youth, and youth who have an immediate family member incarcerated.

“Meal Project," the grants challenge proposal from the Santa Monica College Foundation, will connect students to longer-term support while employing strategies to address their immediate food insecurity.

Inclusology seeks funding for its SaaS platform that uses demographic data to conduct diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) assessments for organizations.

The proposal from Friendship Foundation will make it possible for 500 children with special needs to participate in virtual and in-person activities in a safe, inclusive environment with student volunteers.

reDiscover Center hopes to create a place where community organizations and local artists meet and make together, sharing ideas anchored in reDiscover's vision of a creative, sustainable Los Angeles.

The Power My Learning proposal helps families become more involved in students' learning through its online educator coaching and family workshops.

The Assistance League of Los Angeles is seeking funding for its scholarship program that is used solely for homeless and foster youth for LAUSD students.

SoLa I CAN Foundation hopes to expand its youth programming and bridge the digital divide by building South LA's first Technology and Entrepreneurship Center.

With grants challenge funding, the Birth Equity Advocacy Project hopes to create an effective strategic messaging and awareness campaign about the systematic racism in our healthcare system and in our healthcare policy.

The “Best We Can Be Early Education Programs" proposal from Pediatric Therapy Network addresses disparity gaps among toddlers at-risk of lower educational success due to moderate to severe impairments.

For the grants challenge, CoachArt hopes to further develop its online learning programs for children with chronic illness.

Griffith Observatory Foundation hopes to take every fifth-grader in Los Angeles County on a stimulating, free, virtual visit to Griffith Observatory through its proposal.

The proposal from artworxLA, “The Podcasting Workshop: Power over Stigma," empowers LA youth with foundational storytelling skills, providing high-risk students a platform on which to share their experiences.

The submission from Girls Inc of Greater Los Angeles will deliver programs to girls in grades K-12 that make a significant impact on numerous areas of their lives, from social skills to college prep.

The goal of Project Match's proposal, “Career Exploration: Project Match," is to support its students to find internships and employment that are career oriented and allow for professional growth.

Lana Inventions, LLC hopes to hold weekly educational events where students can learn about recycling their own plastic waste, and gain the opportunity to turn waste into new functional products.

The scholarship program from Armenian Professional Society awards scholarship funds to eligible Armenian graduate students to aid in their educational advancement.

“Transcendent Healing Project" from The 3 Lines Collective will provide youth with a safe space to discuss and process issues related to race and racism.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County hopes to continue to expand its reach to students in the virtual classroom while also welcoming students back onsite to engage in the work of real scientists.

The Rivet School's Educator Pathway program hopes to help school-based support workers by supporting them to pass state licensure exams in order to enter a high-quality credential program and become teachers.

Reading Partners Los Angeles hopes to fund “Reading Partners Connects," a program that brings its traditional, structured lessons and curriculum to an online environment.

USC's proposal equips classrooms and clinics with tools that can address the problem of science literacy by using storytelling and design.

Two Bit Circus Foundation is applying to build its growing online library, “STEAM Guide to the Galaxy," that contains hundreds of standards-aligned, project-based-learning activities.

The Education Program from Alliance for Children's Rights will advocate for babies and toddlers, during this critical window where 90% of brain development occurs, to access life-changing early childhood education.

City Year LA seeks funding for its “Whole School Whole Child Program," where it partners with schools in under-resourced communities to ensure all students have the tools to grow and fully engage in their education.

The Teacher Professional Development Program from America on Tech (AOT) prepares high school teachers to teach AOT's Web Development curriculum in their own classrooms.

College Access Plan hopes to achieve 100 percent FAFSA/California Dream Act application completion for all eligible Pasadena Unified 12th graders for its proposal.

Engineer Factory will conduct an eight-week, 32-hour Piper course for at least 500 Inglewood middle and high school students to introduce them to computer science for its proposal.

Funding from the grants challenge will allow Kidspace Children's Museum to launch an innovative STEAM learning program for students from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD).

With grants challenge funding, Chicxs Rockerxs aims to create a space where trans youth, gender expansive youth, and girls can access resources, mentorship, and music education in Southeast LA.

A My LA2050 grant will triple the capacity of Good Tutors, a successful ongoing 1:1 virtual tutoring program currently serving 400 underserved LAUSD students.

Red Hen Press hopes to secure funding for its after-school program where students study, unwind, and learn about writing, books, and the publishing industry.

For its proposal, Azusa Pacific University hopes to analyze existing interventions that aim to improve retention and graduation rates of students of color, particularly Latinx & African American male students.

With support from the grants challenge, Neighborhood Music School (NMS) will help students access the transformative power of arts education through low-cost music lessons on a wide variety of instruments.

The modern band program from Little Kids Rock unlocks students' inner music makers by using the music that kids already know and love (styles like pop, hip hop, and Latin).

LIVE & FAITH Consulting plans to use funding to launch and scale the firm's Summer Internship and Associate programs in order to provide opportunities for women of color.

Village Arts hopes to remove all financial barriers for “The Curtain Rises," its after-school program for elementary school students in the theater arts.

The proposal from Global Inheritance, “Watts Up Los Angeles," is a campaign to help people in LA understand their energy usage and responsibility to conserve power through a citywide DJ competition.

Acceler8's proposal will pair at-risk teens and opportunity youth with volunteer law enforcement officers and automotive professionals.

The Urban Warehouse plans to use the funding to provide its tutors with a living wage in order to retain them and keep a 10:1 student to tutor ratio.

Heal the Bay's “SEA Education Program" promotes STEM proficiency, ensures access to a safe virtual classroom, inspires curiosity for ocean and marine life, and addresses academic gaps exacerbated by economic inequalities.

In partnership with the LA River revitalization project, Turnaround Arts California plans to help schools in Southeast LA redesign their approach to teaching and learning with the arts at the center.

In partnership with TWINSPIRE, United Friends of the Children applied to fund Its Financial Literacy Program for transition-age foster youth in UFC's education and housing programs.

Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena is seeking to expand its ClubHouse initiative – small, self-contained, and diverse socially-distanced pods where club members work on group projects and foster collaboration.

Pops the Club seeks funding from My LA2050 for its POPScast. Specifically, developing a first season of the podcast that explores teens' experiences with the criminal justice system.

If Saving the West Foundation is awarded a grant, the funds will allow the organization to directly combat food deserts in South LA.

With the support from the grants challenge, Exploring the Arts Inc. will build community amongst art teachers through paid Professional Learning Communities related to distance or in-person arts learning.

Fender Play Foundation's proposal hopes to expand its middle school music program in partnership with LAUSD to reach 6,000 additional students from across the city.

Boys and Girls Club of Venice hopes to use funding to support an expansion of its longstanding music and dance programming which will serve more than 500 students.

Long Beach Day Nursery's proposal for the grants challenge seeks to bring infant care to its West Branch for the first time in its 108-year history.

Stepping Forward LA is seeking funds to further improve its mobile app created by former foster youth to help other youth build skills, access resources, and get support as they enter adulthood.

LinDave Institute's proposal seeks to support families with young children at risk for Post Virus Stress Syndrome, targeting immigrants, DACA recipients, and low-income families in East LA.

DIY Girls hopes to continue its STEM programming for girls of color in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, dramatically altering the trajectory of their education.

EnCorps seeks funding for its STEMx (Expert) Tutors, which will provide academic assistance to middle school students currently under-performing in math.

dublab is seeking funding to alleviate start-up costs, site build-out, and early maintenance of what will be a brand new arts community center and co-operative in Echo Park.

The proposal from California State University Northridge's SecondaryEd hopes to train 8th- and 9th-grade math teachers on an innovative approach to instruction developed by Dr. Ivan Cheng.

Mi Mentor's proposal, “Together We Succeed," will empower Latinx pre-health professions community college students to excel in their transition to a four-year undergraduate program.

Through virtual workshops, Fulfillment Fund hopes to help 9th-12th grade students in its partner schools rebuild social-emotional connections to their peers, their educational community, and their sense of purpose.

Center for Powerful Public Schools hopes to continue its work building the capacity of teachers to better prepare students of color and low-income students to access rigorous education and opportunity pathways, and be college ready.

In partnership with the LA Valley College Family Resource Center, LIFT Los Angeles seeks to break down barriers to post-secondary education attainment for the 25 percent of low-income students who are also raising children.

A coalition of leading STEM organizations, including Expand LA, AltaSea, California Science Center, Columbia Memorial Space Center, Discovery Cube, Los Angeles Maritime Institute, Roundhouse Aquarium, and TreePeople "STEM for All Seasons" and providing learning for thousands of local students.

OLASTEO's “Virtual Experience Program" seeks to expose students to a world beyond their local communities through curated virtual experiences.

Global Arts Corporation would use grants challenge funding to provide free workshops for educators through its Professional Development Series.

Parent, Family Engagement and Community Services plans to use My LA2050 funds for its interactive and engaging educational workshops for parents.

LA Conservation Corps seeks funding to continue serving opportunity youth in Los Angeles and build out its alumni network of program graduates.

Grants challenge applicant Greater South Bay STEM Foundation hopes to help reduce math skills erosion among elementary students due to COVID-19 through math enrichment.

"College to Career Launch" from Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) will advance economic mobility for young people of color by providing them with crucial resources including mentorship, career coaching, and fellowship opportunities.

I Have a Dream Foundation - Los Angeles is participating in the grants challenge to continue helping students effectively navigate a pathway to an empowered future by promoting the values of higher education and career success.

With My LA2050 support, Junior Achievement of Southern California will bring the 3DE curriculum model of using real life case studies that promote problem-solving into Crenshaw High School.

Hacker Fund and partner Road to Artdom seek funding for MentorDash, a technology dashboard to connect STEAM industry mentors to students in LAUSD classrooms.

ITS-IN-SCOPE proposes funding the organization's Memoryhaus in Historic South Central to foster collective learning.

For their application, New Earth and DaVinci RISE High are partnering to provide individualized education support and wrap-around services to systems-involved youth ages 13-25 and narrow the learning gap.

UrbanPromise Los Angeles plans to continue its various youth development programs and initiatives, if selected as a finalist in this year's grants challenge.