Trends in the 2021 My LA2050 Grants Challenge CONNECT Category

Posted May 13, 2021 by LeAnn Kelch and Jake Bishop

At LA2050, the CONNECT category represents our vision that the Los Angeles region will be a place where every resident is empowered to engage with others and participate in civic processes. By the year 2050, Los Angeles will be the most civically engaged region in the U.S., with abundant platforms for residents to voice their opinions and influence elected officials and other decision-makers. Our region's voting rates and volunteerism will lead the nation, and an expanded, accessible transportation network will facilitate the easy flow of people and ideas.

We took note of four significant trends in the 69 proposals submitted to CONNECT this year:

  1. COVID-19 placed a heavy emotional burden on our communities, bringing feelings of isolation, grief, and anxiety to many people. For that reason, it's unsurprising that “social and emotional support" was the most popular metric in CONNECT, targeted by 40 applicants. Organizations seeking to ensure that all Angelenos feel supported include Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, Walk With Sally, Our House, Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), SHARE!, and Voices Beyond Assault.
  2. A number of applications also sought to motivate greater community engagement and volunteerism in Los Angeles. Whether seeking to inspire youth to give back to their community (Project Giving Kids), trying to "gamify" civic engagement through a mobile application (The Wildwoods Foundation), or inspiring multigenerational volunteering (ChaiVillageLA), local organizations are focused on creating opportunities for Angelenos to give back.
  3. The pandemic exposed and exacerbated existing inequities in household access to wifi, device distribution, and digital literacy. And, while the digital divide is not new, several organizations are seeking to capture the increased energy in this area and planning to distribute devices, provide low-cost internet, and facilitate technical assistance to older adults, low-income households, and others. Organizations in include human-I-T, Cyber Seniors, Bizfed Institute, and others.
  4. There was also a noticeable increase in number of applications focused on improving the “LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion" metric. For example, Rainbow Labs submitted a request to expand its LGBTQI-GNG mentoring program for high school students and the San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center applied to create a new physical gathering space for its community. In total, 11 applicants indicated that their work would impact the “LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion" metric.

With grants challenge funding, Mychal's Learning Place hopes to expand its bakery & coffee shop which trains and employs young adults with developmental disabilities.

Children Now seeks to further develop and implement its "Family Urgent Response System," a 24/7 hotline for current or former foster youth.

In collaboration with the Los Angeles Mayor's Office and several other city departments, Civicas put forth a proposal for "CivicASK," an online menu of civic opportunities connecting local challenges with private resources.

"Crenshaw Stories Power the Vote" is the proposal from LA Commons which hopes to share impactful stories to increase civic engagement and voting among residents.

Rainbow Labs seeks to expand its LGBTQI-GNG mentoring program to five high schools by January 2022 for the grants challenge.

Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice wishes to expand its current services creating safety and justice for immigrants who are survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Muralism plans to provide paid work experience to adults on the autism spectrum to complete 10 large-scale wall murals across Los Angeles for its proposal.

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sister of Los Angeles applied with "Teen Talk App," a free, safe space for teens to support and learn from others with similar experiences.

ICAN California Abilities Network is seeking funding to relaunch its "Marketplace Initiative" program supporting micro-businesses that employ adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

CASA of Los Angeles plans to recruit, train and support new and active CASAs to assist non-minor dependent youth in college and post-secondary institutions and help them develop skills to live as independent adults.

UCLA Volunteer Center is seeking to continue its "UCLA Volunteer Day" and "One Bus/One Cause" initiatives to get university students involved with service projects in Los Angeles.

Union Station Homeless Services hopes to empower individuals with lived experience of homelessness to serve as advocates for more equitable and informed housing, criminal justice, and drug policies.

Cougar Conservancy seeks to recruit and train 100 volunteers to connect their networks to its human-wildlife coexistence resources for the grants challenge.

"The NEXT 100" proposal from Mels Love Land aims to host, organize, and establish the inner workings of an all systems love network, involved in shifting the conversation to love.

LA Voice hopes to educate 1,500 individuals about their eligibility to vote, register 1,000 justice-involved individuals to vote, and get 1,000 justice-involved individuals to commit to civic engagement.

For its proposal, Walk With Sally seeks to expand its virtual programs to improve health outcomes for cancer-affected families.

The City of LA Office of Community Beautification applied to help amplify and expand its "Beautify LA Community Grant Program," a matching grant to fund beautifying neighborhood projects in Los Angeles.

South Central LAMP hopes to implement an afternoon program for low-income and immigrant families that includes case management, parenting classes, family advocacy, and mental health workshops.

211 LA County hopes to create a virtual, multilingual portal that brings all diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice resources in LA County together in one home for its proposal.

Central American Resource Center of California's "Migrant Youth Integration" project hopes to support 20 to 40 recently-arrived migrant youth in their civic, social, and economic success in the United States.

The proposal from Cyber Seniors, "TechTelephone Help Line," aims to provide a toll-free phone number answered in English and Spanish to provide Wi-Fi and tech training to seniors.

The Art Muse Academy seeks to develop the "West LA Public Sculpture Guide" to increase visitor engagement with public art collections throughout Los Angeles.

PLUS ME Project is seeking funding to continue its "My Story Matters Journals" to help students increase their self-awareness and realize they are not alone.

For its My LA2050 proposal, Generation Connect seeks to connect vetted teens and vetted seniors together virtually to foster safe, neighborhood connections.

Harvest All Resource Center plans to provide intensive mental health support and self-management skills to Opportunity Youth in South LA and around LAX for its proposal.

Our House seeks funding for its "Grief Support Center" which offers a variety of grief support resources to address this urgent need in Los Angeles.

The Seed Consulting Group applied to the grants challenge with its "Pro-Bono Consulting Program" that connects volunteer consultants with nonprofits.

The San Gabriel Valley LGBTQ Center hopes to create a physical space for the LGBTQ+ community to gather in the San Gabriel Valley after losing its center in 2020 due to COVID-19.

ChaiVillageLA intends to expand capacity to engage more young people, older adults, and nonprofit partners in its multigenerational volunteer program.

Through its “Voices" project, Boyle Heights Beat will work to build and strengthen relationships between youth and elderly in Boyle Heights.

Have A Go aims to boost transit ridership by habituating Angelenos to Metro via transit-oriented weekends for its My LA2050 proposal.

Thai Fan Meet USA hopes to create a drama festival to provide interactive experiences to discuss the current entertainment issues facing the Asian and LGBTQ+ communities.

In partnership with Justice for Black Girls, CISE's grants challenge proposal "Protect Black Girls" will amplify the voices of Black girls.

In collaboration with Student PIRGs, The Civics Center plans to incorporate college students as mentors and ambassadors to high school students to improve youth voter participation rates.

The Jizo Foundation plans to establish a Jizo sculpture created by local artists in Los Angeles where ceremonies and rituals will be held for families that lost an infant at or prior to birth.

For the grants challenge, Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word hopes to continue its work supporting female and non-binary skateboarders.

Mend Family Acupuncture and Healthcare hopes to keep its treatment prices at a low level and also be able to offer reduced price healthcare to the uninsured for its proposal.

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative's proposal "Mobile Digital Community Meeting Kit" would provide a kit of laptops, tablets, and Wi-Fi hotspots to safe public locations in Los Angeles.

Al Otro Lado's "Los Angeles Refugee Representation Project" connects recently liberated asylum seekers and longer-term immigrant residents to necessary resources and support.

SBCC's "Give Your Gift" campaign hopes to empower 10,000 LA residents to discover their gifts and talents through a digital strength-finding platform.

For this year's grants challenge, Girl Powerful seeks to continue its "Girl Powerful Summits" to empower tween and teen girls to take care of themselves through discussions, positive self-talk, movement, meditation, writing, cooking, and more.

World Harvest Charities and Family Services hopes to expand its "Food Box Program" to deliver food, basic staples, and essential items to individuals and families with limited resources.

UCLA UniCamp applied to My LA2050 to continue its work of increasing volunteerism on the UCLA campus through recruiting students to serve as counselors for underserved youth at its summer camp.

CommuteLAX seeks funding to offer employee commute programs such as personalized transit trip planning, carpool and vanpool matching, secure bike lockers, and public bike racks.

"Beyond the Bus" from Center for Restorative Justice Works is a pioneering program that empowers children in LA County to connect with their parents in prison on a regular basis through Wi-Fi hubs throughout the county.

Investing in Place hopes to provide transparency as to how transportation funding in Los Angeles has been distributed over the years, as well as included recommendations and strategies for change.

San Fernando Valley Audubon Society seeks to make the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve more accessible for people with disabilities for its proposal.

Bray Media hopes to streamline companies' diversity recruiting process by providing a trusted source for diverse professionals and students to gain access to career opportunities for its proposal.

For its proposal, Thrive Way, Inc aims to build a social networking platform that focuses on real social connections and emotional supports to address loneliness and mental health issues.

Harmony Project wants to provide monthly music production labs to community members for its grants challenge proposal.

Through its "Crayon Recycling" program, Crayon Collection redirects thousands of crayons that would have otherwise been thrown away into the hands of students who, in many cases, have never had crayons of their own.

The “LUMINEX" proposal from Now Art is an outdoor walkable digital art exhibition taking place in the South Park district of DTLA.

MoceanLab, Inc seeks to make low-emissions hybrid carshare vehicles available to healthcare providers at a 50-100% discount for its proposal.

The "Global Connect" program from Bizfed Institute hopes to train teachers and volunteers on how to discuss connectivity through a digital literacy toolkit.

Sensagrate hopes to analyze real-time roadway and traffic data in Los Angeles in order to improve pedestrian safety and prepare for the future of intelligent transportation systems for its proposal.

LA Podcast Inc. seeks funding to create a new website and newsletter to track key pieces of local legislation in companion with a podcast miniseries on how City Hall works.

SHARE! hopes to bring 25 AAPI Peer Specialists into the workforce within six months of the grant funding to provide mental health resources to the AAPI community.

If Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Inc (CHIRLA) becomes a finalist, it will continue its work providing medical, educational, social, and legal assessment for recently-detained minors.

The Living Through Giving Foundation's My LA2050 proposal, "#HashtagLunchbag," would support monthly events to provide nutritious meals and encouraging notes to Angelenos experiencing homelessness.

Bari Applebaum Creative's proposal, "Chicas Verdes," is an after-school program that provides a community garden for students to play, experience jobs, and strengthen one's mental and physical health.

human-I-T seeks grants challenge funding for it's "connectLA" program which connects low-income households with high-speed, low-cost internet options starting at $10-25 per month.

"Soundwalks throughout Los Angeles" from LA Choral Lab allows Angelenos to experience a unique opportunity to explore the various and diverse regions and communities of the city through interactive, self-paced sonic experiences.

Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre's submission focuses on building out a studio space where artists can collaborate, receive guidance, and record streaming content.

Cancer Support Community Los Angeles seeks funding to provide education, support, and community to Angelenos affected by cancer through support groups and more.

The City of LA Bureau of Engineering applied to create an Equity Infrastructure Scorecard that would aid in mapping concentrations of inequitable infrastructure across the city.

Fostering Media Connections hopes to launch "Youth, Front and Center" a youth-led online platform to elevate the voices of young people who have experienced homelessness, foster care, or the criminal justice system.

Voices Beyond Assault seeks funding from the grants challenge for its programming to promote healing for survivors of sexual assault through providing aid, resources, and therapy services.

Project Giving Kids applied to the grants challenge to connect youth in Los Angeles with hands-on service projects from local nonprofits.

"Our Town," the submission from The Wildwoods Foundation, is a mobile app that would allow schools, community organizations, and other groups to gamify civic engagement.