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Grantee Updates

Posted November 6, 2018 by Team LA2050

Through the My LA2050 Grants Challenges, we have gotten to be a part of some truly amazing work here in LA. Over the past few months, we've taken the time to highlight some of this work and some of the winners in our newsletter. Our grantees shared some of their highs and lows since their big My LA2050 wins, and they were just too good not to share twice.

CicLAvia, 2013 Winner

CicLAvia closes streets to cars for a day, and opens them to the community to gather together and bike, skateboard, run, dance, or simply wander. Their latest event on September 30th, Celebrate LA!: LA Phil 100 x CicLAvia, marked the 27th CicLAvia since 2010. In that time, more than 1.6 million people have participated in CicLAvia, which has covered more than 180 miles of LA's streets. CicLAvia is fueling a transformation across the region by inspiring more people to reimagine urban life without a car, and improving personal health and quality of life. More than 50 percent of participants in a recent survey said that they would be inactive if not for CicLAvia. On event days, local air quality improves by 50 percent and Metro ridership increases by 30 percent. As a result, the region has become increasingly connected by public transportation, bike lanes, and pedestrian centers.

MoveLA, 2014 Winner

After winning the 2014 My LA2050 Grants Challenge, Move LA was instrumental in the passing of Measure M. (If you don't know, Measure M provides $140 billion over 40 years to build out LA County's transit system.) The My LA2050 grant helped build Move LA's social media and communications capacity, which was integral to the Measure M victory. Now, Move LA is gearing up to electrify the Metrolink commuter rail system, which serves four major counties in SoCal. Move LA is also working to modernize its goods movement system so as to #dumpdiesel and conquer climate change, while collaborating with the South Coast Air Quality Management District to accelerate the deployment of clean cars and trucks in SoCal. Follow @MoveLA on Twitter and Instagram to stay updated and get involved!

Homeboy Industries, 2013 Winner and 2018 Honorable Mention

This year, Homeboy Industries is celebrating 30 years of serving the city through radical kinship and by breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty and violence. From the beginning, Homeboy Industries dared to discard the prevailing “tough on crime" approach to be “smart on crime“ - that is, investing in the humanity of healing. Winning the My LA2050 grant in 2013 has allowed Homeboy to serve approximately 8,000 individuals each year, including employing at least 250 previously incarcerated and formerly gang-involved men and women annually in their core paid re-entry program. Last year Homeboy provided more than 700 GED tutoring sessions and 11,800 tattoo removal treatments, saw 76 solar panel program graduates and 118 records expunged, and announced the grand opening of Homeboy Electronics Recycling! (S/o to entrepreneur Kabira Stokes!)

LA Bioscience Hub, 2015 Winner

LA Bioscience Hub just graduated its third cohort of Biotech Leaders Academy students. Biotech Leaders Academy fosters future generations of diverse bioscience entrepreneurs for Los Angeles through its two key components: 1) providing community college students in LA's Eastside with entrepreneurship training; and 2) connecting them to paid industry internships. Almost all program participants are students of color, most of whom are first-generation college students.

Now, LA Bioscience Hub is expanding its programming to work more closely with biotech start-ups, helping them grow in LA and create more opportunities for students from LA community colleges to gain hands-on experience and access new employment opportunities. This October, LA Bioscience Hub brought start-ups together for a workshop to develop their internal capacity for hosting student interns. To learn more or to get involved, head to their website.

826LA, 2013 Winner

During the 2016-2017 school year, 826LA helped 9,263 students improve their creative and expository writing skills, showcasing their work in publications like When the Moon is Up and numerous chapbooks. Volunteers donated more than 22,000 hours of their time to make it happen. This summer, students in the Write On! summer camp spent four weeks exploring themes such as Arts and Culture, Nature, STEAM, and Visiting the Future. In the process, they learned to express themselves and describe the world in which they live. As one student wrote, “Not everyone is blinded by the beauty of our city. I won't say it's my cup of Starbucks, but it's the still image I call my life."

City Year LA, 2014 Winner

This year, City Year Los Angeles embarked on its second decade of service to the students of Watts, South L.A., Boyle Heights, Pico Union, and Westlake. Over the last 11 years, City Year Los Angeles has called on nearly 2,800 diverse AmeriCorps members to help thousands of students stay in school and on track to graduate, college and career ready. City Year AmeriCorps members work side-by-side with teachers and develop transformational relationships with students to help them succeed.

Since winning the My LA2050 Grants Challenge in 2014, City Year Los Angeles has deployed 1,140 AmeriCorps members to serve nearly 2 million hours as full-time tutors, mentors, and role models in Los Angeles Unified schools. City Year Los Angeles graduates continue to strengthen the city's workforce by entering various fields including social work, medicine, education, and non-profit work.

AltaSea, 2016 Winner

AltaSea is transforming 35 acres in the oldest part of the Los Angeles harbor into a center for ocean-focused research, STEM education, and sustainable business incubation. Their LA2050 grant helped form the L.A. Waterfront STEM Network, which provides ocean-focused education to middle school students, inspiring them to champion sustainable uses of our oceans.

Alta Sea has had an eventful year:

  • Hosting the crew of "The Swim" as they prepared for Ben Lecomte's audacious attempt to swim 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean. Ben's swim from Tokyo to San Francisco through the Great Garbage Patch of the North Pacific is designed to raise awareness about plastics pollution. He and his crew also raised money for AltaSea, while conducting thousands of tests for NASA and NOAA research projects.
  • Launching a six-week pilot program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of LA Harbor to educate students on sustainable aquaculture and underwater robotics.

We're so proud of the work our grantees have done to make LA the best place to connect, live, create, learn, and play. This is just the beginning. Subscribe to our newsletter here to catch more updates as the year progresses, and let's get to work!

2018 My LA2050 Honorable Mentions

Posted October 2, 2018 by Team LA2050

As you may recall, we announced the five winners of the 2018 My LA2050 Activation Challenge back in July. We're so proud of the winners and even more appreciative to everyone who submitted their proposals to the grants challenge. In fact, we saw so many bright ideas come through that we decided we had to do more.

This year, we're mixing things up and awarding 10 additional $35,000 grants to what we're calling the 2018 My LA2050 Honorable Mentions. These organizations inspired and excited us with their vision and dedication to making LA the best place to live, play, connect, create, and learn. So much so, that we decided giving away $1,000,000 dollars just wasn't enough!

The My LA2050 Honorable Mentions are being recognized for their inspiring engagement tactics, outside-the-box thinking, and perseverance. You can click each organization's graphic to link to their innovative activation proposals and read more info about their work!

Without further ado...

LA Kitchen, Root Down LA, and Our Foods

Following their mantra of “Neither food nor people should ever go to waste," L.A. Kitchen reclaims healthy and local food, trains unemployed men and women in the culinary arts, and distributes healthy meals to Angelenos all while tackling the cycle of poverty. They will be sharing the grant with Our Foods and Root Down LA, two non-profits also focused on urban agriculture in South LA.

One Degree

One Degree is a technology driven nonprofit organization that helps low-income families access the resources they need to achieve social and economic mobility and, ultimately, improve their lives. Thousands in the Bay Area and Los Angeles rely on One Degree's platforms to access health care, food banks, employment services, and much more.

Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries primarily serves formerly incarcerated or gang-affiliated men and women through gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry support. The program provides employment for more than 200 individuals and offers parenting classes, workforce development trainings, and tattoo removal.


YPI takes a holistic approach to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty through high-quality education, workforce training, and service provision for high-need communities. They readily commit to families and recognize the need for long-term investment “from cradle to college and career."

Investing in Place

Understanding that families can't get ahead in life if they can't get around, Investing in Place works with diverse stakeholders to support transportation investments that strengthen all communities. This is accomplished through advocacy, research, capacity building, and cross-sector partnerships.

Make it in LA

Make it in LA unleashes the creative potential of LA's makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs through educational programming, engaging online content, community events, as well as technical assistance and manufacturing advice for emerging businesses.

Harlem Lacrosse

Harlem Lacrosse empowers students who are most at-risk of dropping out by engaging them through lacrosse. Students benefit from the discipline, camaraderie, and sense of community that come from belonging to a team. Harlem Lacrosse also provides wrap-around services including mentorship and full-time on-campus staff to meet the academic and emotional needs of students.

Youth Movement Against Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. The Youth Movement Against Alzheimer's equips the next generation with the knowledge and passion necessary to eradicate the disease through research grants, student-led advocacy groups, intergenerational respite caregiving, and by establishing student advocacy groups on college campuses.

People for Parks

People for Parks aims to create easy access to safe and quality play spaces in underserved communities around Los Angeles. By training communities to advocate for themselves and their children and by advancing local joint-use policies, People for Parks hopes to create a Los Angeles in which every family has a safe park within walking distance.

Children Now

It's difficult for children to thrive without advocates. Children Now is the hub that unites children's advocacy groups across California. They work with policymakers and influential leaders throughout the state to craft, promote, enact and implement scalable change for kids.

Head over to their My LA2050 Activation Challenge pages for more information on their mission and vision, as well as opportunities to get involved. Thanks to our extraordinary My LA2050 Honorable Mention grantees for making LA the best place to live, learn, connect, play, and create. We're glad to have you on board.

You can connect with LA2050 by signing up for the newsletter at la2050.org. You can follow LA2050 on facebook.com/LA2050 and on Twitter @LA2050.

And the winners are...

Posted July 9, 2018 by

LA2050 announces $1,000,000 in grants to five winners of the My LA2050 Grants Challenge to #ActivateforLA

Today, the Goldhirsh Foundation has announced the winners of the 2018 My LA2050 Activation Challenge, an open call for ideas designed to activate 100,000 Angelenos to make LA the best place to learn, create, play, connect, and live. A total of $1,000,000 will be awarded evenly among the five selected organizations to carry out their proposals over the next two years. Each organization will receive $200,000 and partnership from LA2050 in support of its efforts. The My LA2050 Grants Challenge is part of LA2050's effort to drive progress toward a shared vision of success for Los Angeles.

The winning proposals reflect conversations occurring at both national and local levels about timely topics such as refugee resettlement, gun safety, homelessness, STEM learning, and inclusive entrepreneurship. “We are inspired by the projects selected for grants this year," said Goldhirsh Foundation president, Tara Roth. “These proposals address issues of national import with impact at a local level. They are introducing creative solutions for community change by tapping into the collective efforts of Angelenos."

Additionally, the Goldhirsh Foundation is delighted to partner with the Annenberg Foundation for the fourth year in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge. The Annenberg Foundation will provide each winner with an additional $25,000 grant to support the organization's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

The winners of the My LA2050 Activation Challenge are:


  • Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISE): The Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISE) will empower teachers to instruct and inspire students in STEM via a dynamic training and mentoring program. Teachers in LAUSD-Local District South and Compton USD will be trained and equipped to implement the Next Generation Science Standards and prepare their students for the jobs of the future.


  • ELACC + LA Street Vendors Coalition: After winning a 10-year fight for the legalization of street vending in LA, the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign will continue to activate vendors, small businesses, policy makers, and food lovers across our city in the creation of an equitable economy inclusive of micro-entrepreneurs. Through this activation, they will grow security and opportunity for an innovative industry that contributes to LA's vibrant food culture and economy.


  • Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence: The Brady Center is establishing a coalition that will build public, legal, and economic pressure to reform or shut down “bad apple gun dealers," and make an impact on two of LA2050's key metrics - per capita crime rates and perceived safety. With this campaign, they will activate Angelenos to take meaningful action to reduce gun violence and increase public safety.


  • Miry's List: In partnership with EmpowerLA, Miry's List will activate individuals across LA to make their neighborhoods more welcoming to new arrival refugee families through volunteerism and engagement with Neighborhood Councils. Miry's List believes that supporting new refugee families in the process of resettlement softens their transition and leads to more compassionate and engaged communities.


  • United Way of Greater Los Angeles: Through their #EveryoneIn campaign, United Way of Greater Los Angeles will activate 100,000 Angelenos to connect the dots between housing affordability and homelessness. #EveryoneIn will empower participants to say “yes" to supportive housing, the preservation of existing housing, and the creation of new affordable housing.

You can connect with LA2050 by signing up for the newsletter at la2050.org. You can follow LA2050 on facebook.com/LA2050 and on Twitter @LA2050.

$1,000,000 up for Grabs to Make LA the Best Place to Play, Learn, Create, Connect, and Live

Posted June 21, 2018 by Team LA2050

The Goldhirsh Foundation seeks public input to determine winners of the My LA2050 Activation Challenge. Public voting begins today.

Starting today, Angelenos can cast their vote to determine who will win the 2018 My LA2050 Activation Challenge, an open call for ideas that will activate 100,000 Angelenos to make LA the best place to learn, create, play, connect, and live. A total of $1,000,000 will be awarded among five organizations to carry out their proposal. Each organization will receive a total of $200,000 (over two years) and partnership from LA2050 in support of their efforts.

Five finalists have been selected in each LA2050 goal category that will engage Angelenos to make a specific, tangible impact by 2020. The Goldhirsh Foundation's finalists for the My LA2050 Activation Challenge are:






*in alphabetical order by goal category

Public voting will close June 29th, and winners will be announced on July 9th.

To stay updated on the challenge and to be notified when the winners are announced, you can follow LA2050 on facebook.com/LA2050 and on Twitter @LA2050, and connect with the challenge on Twitter using #ActivateforLA.

2018 My LA2050 Activation Challenge Finalists

Posted May 24, 2018 by Team LA2050

Congratulations to our top 25 finalists of the My LA2050 Activation Challenge! Earlier this year, we put out an open call for ideas that will activate 100,000 Angelenos to make LA the best place to learn, create, play, connect, and live.

One winner will be chosen among the top five in each goal category based on the results of public voting. Each winning organization will receive a total of $200,000 (over two years) and a partnership from LA2050 to execute their proposal. Voting begins on June 19, 9am PT and will continue until June 29, 5pm PT.

The 2018 My LA2050 Activation Challenge winners will be announced on July 9, so stay tuned!

Here's to you LA! Thank you for inspiring us with so many innovative ideas to #ActivateforLA.

Announcing the finalists by goal category:





  • CASA/LA - Youth to Youth: Helping Young Adults Exit Foster Care
  • Homeboy Industries - Homeboy and LA Voice: Organizing formerly incarcerated Angelenos to vote
  • Investing in Place - More than Minivans: the Female Future of Transportation
  • Miry's List - Welcome, Neighbor: Making LA the most welcoming place in America
  • VoteRunLead - Women Lead L.A.: Activating Women to Collaborate, Lead, and Make Positive Change


Follow us at @LA2050 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and sign up for our newsletter for announcements regarding the challenge. Help spread the word using #ActivateforLA!

*in alphabetical order

6 Awesome Angeleno Podcasts You Should Know About

Posted October 14, 2017 by LA2050

Seems like there's a podcast for everything these days, and quite a few about our own city. We've rounded up six social impact podcasts that share stories about Los Angeles, our most pressing challenges, and the changemaking leaders doing good:

Changemakers LA, by LA LISC
Changemakers LA is a tribute to the people and policies that make LA neighborhoods good places to live, work, and play. They take a look at how LA tackles the pressing issues of affordable housing, economic development, transportation, and safety in a time of growing prosperity and growing inequity in LA. Listen on Soundcloud here.

KNOW YOUR CITY by Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN) was just launched this week! This podcast series will highlight some of LA's amazing leaders in policy, advocacy, and community development, who are uplifting underserved communities. Subscribe here.

There Goes the Neighborhood: Los Angeles, by KCRW
There Goes the Neigborhood: Los Angeles is an eight-part podcast examining the winners and losers of neighborhood gentrification, and the forces driving it in LA. Listen now on the KCRW site.

LA Forwards & Backwards, by LA Forward
LA Forwards & Backwards opens up conversation on issues being debated in today's Los Angeles. Hosted by David Levitus, founder of LA Forward, this podcast features interviews with local social and environmental justice leaders. Find episodes here.

Value Added, by enso
Value Added interviews people who are adding value to the world. The awesome Angelenos they've interviewed so far include Sam Polk, Jessica Jackley, Chris Rico, Elliot Kotek, and The Dinner Party. Take a listen on iTunes.

The Zag, by NLC Los Angeles
The Zag features stories from New Leaders Council (NLC) alumni and their work in LA. NLC LA provides emerging professionals with training, mentorship, and resources, and has created a network of cross-sector, progressive leaders in Los Angeles. Listen to their podcast here.

With Friends of the Family and the Man2Man Project, young teens are training to become responsible fathers

Posted September 7, 2017 by Friends of the Family

Wow! What a great six months we have had launching the Man2Man Project!

The M2M Project has two main components:

  1. The Young Dads Impact Team
  2. The Adult Mentoring Program for the Young Dads

The first group of Mentors are now actively engaged with their mentees. The Young Dads received training about male responsibility in pregnancy prevention and practical ways to deal with real-life situations. These trainings will be incorporated into the Young Dads Impact Team presentations at local schools in the San Fernando Valley, North Hills, and Pacoima!

The Young Dads Impact Team, a name they chose for themselves, has been busy honing their presentation skills so they are prepared to visit local middle and high schools this fall to talk about what it's REALLY like to be a Young Dad and how important it is for teenage guys to take responsibility for preventing pregnancy.

The major challenge we have faced with the M2M Project has been recruitment of volunteer mentors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that volunteerism has decreased over the past five years and, compared to women, men are less likely to volunteer. To address and overcome this challenge, we have turned to pushing on social media, online networks, and presentations at community meetings. We also decided to establish two cohorts of mentors which has allowed the program to stagger the training and onboarding process. Currently, the second cohort of mentors is being interviewed, screened, and trained.

Although the M2M Project originally targeted metrics in LA2050's “Connect" goal category, we realize that the Project will also impact metrics in the “Live" goal category, as detailed below:


  • Rates of Volunteerism:
    • Man2Man program provides community members the opportunity to volunteer as mentors to young dads.
    • Young Dad Impact Team members volunteer to conduct community presentations at local schools on the importance of teen pregnancy prevention.
  • Social and Emotional Support
    • Adult mentors provide Young Dads with encouragement, support, and guidance.
    • Young Dads weekly group sessions foster social connections among group members.
    • Young Dads participants receive ongoing coaching, personal development, and access to networks of support


  • Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences:
    • Young Dads report high exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
    • Adult Mentors and Young Dad mentees are trained about the impact and prevalence of ACEs.
    • The Man2Man Project will be featured on ACEs community-of-practice website as a trauma-informed and resiliency building program.
  • Resilient Communities:
    • Young Dads and Mentors participating in the Man2Man Project develop skills that increase their resilience.
    • Man2Man mentors and mentees will plan a community volunteer day.

In the upcoming six months of the Project, we look forward to continuing our work with the mentor/mentee pairs and facilitating opportunities for meaningful and supportive relationships to develop. The mentors and mentees will convene as a group for some activities and will plan a community event for late summer.

If you have any questions about the Project or are interested in volunteering, please contact Brenda Hillhouse at 818/988-4430 or [email protected].

From East LA to DTLA to South LA, kids have been surfing and ocean-learning with Surf Bus Foundation!

Posted September 1, 2017 by Surf Bus Foundation

Note: The folks at Surf Bus Foundation wrote their own post on their blog--be sure to check out the full update on their site! Link here.

It is the mid-year mark for our LA2050: Make LA the best place to PLAY! grant project. We want to take a time out from our gnarlatiously awesome, salty, and sandy times at the beach to share with everyone how our journey is unfolding.

A project of this magnitude has taken no small amount of planning.

Our original proposal was to bring four LA City park and recreation departments out to the beach for two weeks of surf camp. We met at Green Meadows with coordinators and directors from three other LA parks: Algin Sutton, Trinity, and Cypress. After a frank discussion about research goals and weekly expectations, the biggest question was about time commitment. Can we get the SAME 65 children to commit to summer camp for two weeks in a row? Turns out, nobody knew if we could get the consistency needed to collect the data we wanted.

So we deviated from our original proposal--instead of 10 days of immersion for our kids, we broke the summer up into one-week blocks and invited eight parks out to the beach. Our parks cover all areas of Los Angeles: North Hollywood, East LA, Downtown, and South Central LA. We opened the door for our partners at Algin Sutton, Cypress, and Green Meadows to reach out to other reliable coordinators at Denker, Yucca, and Hazard Parks.

Surf Bus committed to dressing and feeding all our students, park staff, and volunteers with healthy lunches for the duration of our summer calendar. We have learned that staying well hydrated with water and choosing whole foods like simple proteins, fruits, and vegetables creates maximal returns at the beach. We couldn't have had a great summer without our generous partners:

  • Whole Foods agreed to give healthy snacks and fruit for 65 people everyday for the week of July 17-21
  • Everytable Santa Monica prepared fresh salads and grain bowls for us 3 days/week
  • Fellow My LA2050 grantee Altasea and the Cabrillo Aquarium prepared and delivered lunch for our budding marine scientists
  • Coolies Surf made special rashguard sets of shorts and tops for the children who do not have suitable bathing suits of their own.
  • Winds Bus partnered with Surf Bus to help provide transportation

100% of our Surf Bus volunteers are students who surf on Surf Academy-run middle and high school surf teams. Truly, the project epitomizes Ohana Nalu (family wave) and the Spirit of Aloha. For the week,we worked with Valley Plaza, by day five, we had all forty-five kids calling their instructors "aunty" and "uncle," just like on the Hawaiian islands.

The Surf Bus Foundation is an organization dedicated to the transportation and expansion of scientific knowledge through tools like play and through the help of the LA2050 Challenge grant they were able to develop the Therapeutic Ocean Engagement: Surfing (T.O.E.S.). We have taken photos, kept daily journals, conducted short interviews, and collected anonymous before/after surveys from all students and staff from each park. We are charged with the responsibility doing an exponential amount of good!

Big Citizen Hub: How are LA youth making an impact in their community?

Posted August 28, 2017 by Big Citizen Hub

Big Citizen HUB has spent the last six months connecting 225 young people from all across Los Angeles.

These youth represent:

  • 60 zip codes and 57 school communities
  • 34% male, 57% female, 1% gender non-conforming, 8% non disclosed
  • 77% Latinx/Hispanic, 5% Asian American/Pacific Islander, 3% Caucasian/White, 3% African American/Black, 6% Mixed Race, 6% non disclosed

Together on diverse teams, Big Citizens have been participating in dialogue, community immersion activities, and direct actions to address the critical issues dividing our cities, including Environmental Sustainability, Food Justice, Homelessness, Immigration, LGBTQ+ Equality, and Animal Rights. From making blankets for people experiencing homelessness, participating in the Free the People Immigration March, taking toxic tours and making seed bombs, to participating in a letter writing campaign to SeaWorld, these youth are learning how to take action on the issues that matter most to them, whether that be through direct service, mobilization, or speaking out and sharing their own stories.

This has already been an incredible year and we are excited to continue moving forward to harness youth assets and positive peer networks, ultimately contributing to a more just, open, and connected society.

As we approach the end of our program year, we expect to graduate 196 young people in mid-July. Big Citizens have collectively spent over 20,000 hours exploring issues of social justice with their peers and our 30+ community partners.

  • Big Citizens receive social and emotional support from near-peer mentors
  • Big Citizens have gained skills in using our public transit system to explore LA
  • We have engaged 225 Big Citizens, along with their friends and family in volunteerism throughout the last six months. 83 of these youth are back for their 2nd or 3rd year with Big Citizen HUB.
  • Big Citizens come from 60 zip codes across LA, making important connections with youth outside of their neighborhood
  • Big Citizens also connect through social media and learn how to utilize these networks to increase the impact they can have on the issues they care about

It's also been an exciting year operationally! We've begun working with the Building Healthy Communities - Boyle Heights: Invest in Youth Campaign, furthering valuable partnerships through advocacy efforts for positive youth development programs in LA. We've also begun to build greater organizational capacity by bringing on a Director of Programs and a Director of Impact and Evaluation. This is especially exciting as capacity has been a challenge as we strive to create the highest quality positive youth development program for our participants.

This year we launched the use of a mobile technology to collect information about youth's real-time experiences during the program. This methodology, called Experience Sampling Method (ESM), signals youth at random time points throughout the program day with a brief survey that asks respondents about what they are doing and feeling in that moment. This approach provides us with data on the quality of program implementation and how youth are experiencing and interacting with program components. We plan to share evaluation findings through an impact report this fall, after the 2017 program is complete.

This has already been an incredible year and we are excited to continue moving forward to harness youth assets and positive peer networks, ultimately contributing to a more just, open, and connected society.

Media Features:

  1. NBC – Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch - 3/14/17
  2. Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch
  3. Park Labrea News Beverly Press - 4/27/17 - GYSD

Opportunity Fund is investing in LA's future: immigrant entrepreneurs and small business owners

Posted August 23, 2017 by Opportunity Fund

More than 45% of families in LA County live below the self-sufficiency standard. In LA, it takes more than three full-time, minimum wage jobs for a typical family to pay for necessities. To bridge the income gap, many–in particular minorities and immigrants–turn to entrepreneurship as a path to economic security, a strategy that also stimulates job creation in their communities.

A 2012 CNN report noted, “[Small and medium enterprises] in the U.S. create over 85% of all jobs." If one in three microenterprises hired an additional person, the U.S. would return to full employment. Yet 50% of small businesses fail, often due to an inability to access affordable and responsible capital needed for growth because of language and cultural barriers, limited assets, and poor/insufficient credit.

Opportunity Fund's small business program is an investment in address this daunting economic indicator and reaching all small business owners to provide them with sound capital with which to build their enterprises.

Opportunity Fund is California's largest nonprofit microlender. Our innovative microlending model enables Los Angeles' underserved small business owners access so they can build vibrant enterprises, and a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities. We provide loans from $2,600 to $250,000, at affordable, fixed interest rates to disadvantaged entrepreneurs. Our model balances technology, efficiency, market knowledge, and impact measurement to remove barriers to credit that many of our borrowers face when declined by banks.

We use a variety of innovative marketing strategies to reach small business owners including our street team of loan officers, bank referrals, online presence, and a first-of-its kind partnership with Lending Club, the nation's largest online lender. Last year, we launched our Community Partners Program in LA to provide multiple layers of microenterprise assistance, leverage each other's strengths and have a deeper reach.

Through Opportunity Fund's Community Partners Program, we've worked closely with community organizations like MCS BusinessSource Center which shares Opportunity Fund's core value of helping small business owners gain access to responsible and transparent lending. By working with MCS BusinessSource Center, Opportunity Fund has created a consistent referral channel for microbusiness, thereby generating new loan volume.

Through our ten LA community partners, including two signed in 2017, we have originated 32 loans for a loan volume of $353,751, creating/sustaining nearly 100 new jobs, and generating nearly $690,000 in new economic activity through new wages, spending and taxes. Building the framework to support our partners—such as product training, collateral marketing material, processes and communication channels, designing and writing a monthly partner-directed newsletter, and developing “how to" sessions with partners offered to small business clients—has demanded more time than originally anticipated. Going forward, with a strong system in place for our existing partners, Opportunity Fund's staff is anticipating being able to dedicate more time to adding more partners to the program, and originating new lending through that channel that creates stronger small businesses, economic mobility for our clients and their families, and employees.

Keep up with LA2050