​A 5-Step Guide to Applying for My LA2050

Posted February 13, 2020 by Team LA2050

Thinking of applying to the My LA2050 Grants Challenge? We asked five past winners for their top tips on submitting a winning proposal.

1. Develop your proposal with a specific project in mind.

Start by looking for a project that supports and amplify your organization's current work.

When developing your proposal, 2019 grantee Rise advises that not only should the project convey a clear vision, it should also be “squarely within your capacity and mission as an organization.” An important factor on the Grants Challenge Scorecard considers how clearly your proposal defines the outcomes for your project and how thoroughly you would measure its success. Make sure you propose goals that you can trust your team to execute.

2. Focus on a project that you believe will have the most impact on the greater Los Angeles community.

The next step is to align your project impact with LA2050 goals and metrics.

Making the most impact doesn't mean that you have to be a large organization or work with a huge budget. Instead, think about innovative ways to expand on what you already have to address the problem you're already passionate about solving.

For example, when CASA of Los Angeles first applied, they took the opportunity to introduce Los Angeles to their volunteer program, posing the question – “what does it mean to help children in foster care?” Since then, the organization has grown its community and most recently won the 2019 Grants Challenge by proposing a new type of volunteer program that builds on their previous proposals.

3. Collaborate from the get-go!

Collaborate with outside partners and remember internal collaborations as well, especially if you have multiple departments that would execute your project.

According to 2019 grantee Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, “creating a truly impactful proposal requires so much collaboration and input.” Don't wait till the deadline draws near to start these important conversations.

4. Use videos to your advantage.

While creating a video for your organization can seem intimidating, it is often a great way to introduce others to yourself and your work.

2018 grantee Miry's List proved with their proposal that effective storytelling doesn't require a professionally-produced video. Their video was shot entirely on a cellphone, but was powerful because it was genuine and explained why their organization was well-positioned to connect Angelenos and refugees new to Los Angeles with each other.

5. Don't be afraid to get your community on board.

My LA2050 has included a public vote since 2013 because we recognize that it can benefit organizations applying to the Grants Challenge – from reaching new audiences through the My LA2050 Ideas Archive to establishing better relationships with existing supporters.

In anticipation of the voting period, 2019 grantee Defy Ventures encourages organizations to plan ahead on reaching out to supporters. Treat this process as a chance to rally supporters around your cause, raise awareness of your work, and gather valuable feedback on the project you're proposing.

Miry's List Helps Los Angeles Welcome Refugees and Asylees

Posted February 7, 2020 by Miry's List

This is an update on the winning proposal from the CONNECT category in the 2018 LA2050 challenge.

View the full January 2020 View the full January 2020 Welcome, Neighbor Snapshot here.


We believe that a Los Angeles that welcomes refugees and asylees with open arms - in a way that promotes volunteerism and civic participation through the Neighborhood Council system - will be a better, more compassionate, and more engaged place for all Angelenos.

Welcome, Neighbor by Miry's List is making Los Angeles a more welcoming city for refugees by giving Angelenos opportunities to CONNECT with their resettling refugee neighbors. In partnership with LA2050 and EmpowerLA, Welcome, Neighbor gives Angelenos opportunities to make direct and meaningful connections with resettling newcomers in our city.

“Now more than ever it is critical that we help our refugee neighbors make a home right here and Miry's List has been instrumental in this work." — Mayor Eric Garcetti, November 2019

In fiscal year 2019, 30,000 refugees came to America seeking safety from violence and persecution. Southern California was one of the top destinations for resettlement. These resettling individuals and families left behind their extended families, communities, friends, homes, jobs, and possessions. While all refugees come to the US through resettlement agencies, those agencies only work with families for their first 90 days here and are largely understaffed and underfunded, leaving resettling families with many unmet needs.

At the same time, despite the negative national rhetoric, many Americans want to help resettling refugees – especially here in Los Angeles. To harness the support of the local community, we launched Welcome, Neighbor in 2018, a framework for Angelenos to get involved directly to support their resettling neighbors through their local neighborhood council.

Since then, over 20,000 Angelenos have engaged directly with Welcome, Neighbor, and we've reached nearly 80,000 more people through in-person events, social media, and promotional partners. Many city officials have expressed their support. This past December, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution declaring LA as a Welcoming City for refugees. Welcome, Neighbor is uniquely positioned to build on this momentum, activate many more Angelenos and make LA the most welcoming city in the nation.

The 14 piloting neighborhood councils enrolled in Welcome, Neighbor

Pictured: The 14 piloting neighborhood councils enrolled in Welcome, Neighbor.

Nassar Trad, new Angeleno from Syria, and Miry Whitehill at the Los Feliz Food & Art Festival in 2019. Photo by Christina Gandolfo

Pictured: Nassar Trad, new Angeleno from Syria, and Miry Whitehill at the Los Feliz Food & Art Festival in 2019. Photo by Christina Gandolfo

Program Progress

Since Miry's List won the 2018 LA2050 Activation Challenge, we have enrolled 14 neighborhood councils in Welcome, Neighbor and appointed 24 volunteer Welcoming Liaisons leading their neighborhood's efforts towards resettling refugees. Our neighborhood welcoming resolution, declaring neighborhoods a safe, welcoming place for all, has been adopted by 9 neighborhood councils across the city. More than 10,800 people have made direct in-person connections with resettling Angelenos at 64 Welcome, Neighbor events.

Welcome, Neighbor engagements provide interactive opportunities for Angelenos to learn about refugee resettlement in our city, how it feels for families and how we can help. Attendees had the opportunities to meet new arrival families directly, often sharing a meal, conversation, family stories, and getting to know one another as neighbors. Miry's List team members and program recipients have presented at 17 neighborhood council meetings, providing board members and stakeholders with information about and actionable steps for helping resettling Angelenos. Around the holidays, some councils chose to have a direct impact in the form of house-warming gifts: In November 2019 and January 2020, 11 neighborhood councils assisted 11 resettling Angeleno families to help them get the things they need for their first home in LA. Our Los Angeles volunteer list grew by 272 people, many of whom heard about our work through their neighborhood councils, family, and friends.


How Angelenos Are Impacted

In a survey of 64 Welcome, Neighbor participants, we found:

  • 100% of participants have a greater knowledge the refugee resettlement system in America and how it works.
  • 100% of participants have a greater understanding of how it feels to resettle as a refugee in America.
  • 100% of participants have a greater understanding of how to help families resettling as refugees in Los Angeles
  • 82% of participants responded that they “loved the experience and want more."

The community-driven spirit and structure of the Welcome, Neighbor pilot reflect deeply shared Angeleno values of our diverse city of immigrants. In November 2019, in a video at the 2019 Miry's List Gratitude Gala, Mayor Eric Garcetti described the work of Miry's List as “another reminder that Los Angeles is indeed a City of Angels. And a city where everyone is welcome and all of us belong."


Coming Next

We are in the Activation phase of Welcome, Neighbor and are continuing our programming for LA Neighborhood Councils throughout 2020. Here's what Welcome, Neighbor will focus on in 2020:

  • Expanded neighborhood council direct family wishlist matching, providing a streamlined process for councils to lead their stakeholders in helping resettling Angelenos get their new homes set up.
  • Targeting 100% council adoption of the Welcome, Neighbor Resolution
  • Participation in Welcoming Activations, facilitated by Miry's List
  • Exceed our goal of activating 100,000 Angelenos with Welcome, Neighbor
  • Data & Reporting: Welcome, Neighbor survey to continue data collection and analysis to establish learnings and findings to understand how we can improve and measure our impact.

Next event: February 14: Afghan Valentines in Downtown LA. Tickets here.

Brady Center Combats Gun Violence in Los Angeles

Posted February 6, 2020 by Brady Center

This is an update on the winning proposal from the PLAY category in the 2018 LA2050 challenge.

Brady is now 18 months into our Combating Crime Guns Initiative: Los Angeles (CCGI:LA) program, a multi-pronged approach to Los Angeles gun violence prevention that focuses on stemming the flow of guns into the city. The program is centered around the knowledge that 90% of crime guns (firearms that are illegally possessed, used in a crime, or suspected to have been used in a crime) are sold by just 5% of gun dealers. Through CCGI:LA, we work to target these irresponsible dealers and shift the burden of gun violence from disproportionately impacted communities to the industry that is flooding these communities with guns.

With the support of the Goldhirsh Foundation, we are fighting to ensure that in 2050, Los Angelenos of all ages will have access to safe homes, safe neighborhoods, and safe places to play. Under LA2050's 'PLAY' goal, our program will impact two metrics: per capita crime rate and perceived safety.

Program Updates

Over the past months, we've continued to build out our presence and impact in Los Angeles, and we are so excited to share our progress with the LA2050 community.


One of the most significant recent developments is the establishment of the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) Grant Program, which appropriated $30 million in funding for competitive awards to cities and community-based organizations to support evidence-based violence reduction initiatives--a marked $21 million increase from last year's violence reduction funding. This decision is a huge win for the gun violence prevention movement and sets an example for other states to follow about the importance of funding violence reduction initiatives.

Brady had a substantial role in the passage of this budget legislation. In fact, our Los Angeles Program Manager, Steve Lindley, was selected to be a member of the CalVIP Executive Steering Committee--the party that develops the grant program's Requests for Proposals and makes funding recommendations to the Board. We are honored and excited to be a part of this life-saving grant program.

Prioritizing Gun Dealer Inspections

Brady also recently created a tool to improve the efficiency and efficacy of gun dealer inspections. When conducted regularly and effectively, dealer inspections are a proven way to flag dangerous crime gun dealers and promote responsible business practices. However, due to insufficient resources, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) only inspects roughly 8% of licensed firearm dealers every year. Further, the ATF cited 75% of inspected FFLs for violations in 2016, yet only revoked the licenses of less than 1% of cited dealers. The key takeaway: the federal government is unable or unwilling to conduct meaningful oversight on the country gun dealers.

One solution to this lack of federal oversight is conducting independent inspections. Many states and municipalities have the authority to conduct inspections independent of the ATF. Using data on thousands of pages of ATF inspection reports, Brady--with the pro bono assistance of a blue chip consulting firm--has analyzed the characteristics of gun dealers that most highly correlate with the irresponsible business practices contributing to urban gun violence and developed a predictive tool that can be used by local authorities to target gun dealer inspections. We look forward to incorporating this tool into our current Los Angeles gun violence prevention strategies.

Louder Than Guns

Brady remains deeply involved with the Louder Than Guns campaign, a project led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Youth Leadership Council to End Gun Violence. Louder Than Guns is a rallying cry for all Angelenos, with the goal of inspiring local activism and ensuring that citizens know the impact that their individual actions can have on reducing gun violence. The campaign has relied on extensive involvement and consulting from Brady's Los Angeles Program Manager and has been extremely impactful since its launch, provoking important discussions regarding the plague of firearm violence in Los Angeles and across the nation.

The Mayor's Office has requested Brady's support and guidance in bringing the campaign to the national level. We are currently working with the L.A. Mayor's Office, the Mayor's Youth Leadership Council to End Gun Violence, and ad agency Omelet to build off of our success in Los Angeles and launch the campaign to other cities disproportionately impacted by firearm violence.


The lack of oversight and transparency around gun industry policies and practices are an ongoing hindrance to this work. Although Brady works diligently to address these issues on the legislative side, we know that this approach takes time. Acknowledging this, Brady's Combating Crime Guns Initiative largely focuses on more immediate goals, such as raising public awareness of the role of the gun industry in gun violence and finding innovative ways to identify and reform irresponsible gun dealers in the absence of government oversight (such as our gun dealer inspection tool).

What's to Come

In the coming months, we look forward to leveraging local partnerships to execute multiple collaborative gun violence prevention projects.

Upcoming plans include:

  • Partnering with the Los Angeles Unified School District to distribute firearm safety information to thousands of students and their parents.
  • Continuing to build out our work with the LA Mayor's office Youth Council to End Gun Violence. Activities include:
    • Working closely with Brady's youth-led gun violence prevention program, Team Enough as well as the Youth Council to coordinate a youth advocacy and lobbying education training in Sacramento. We believe this partnership will lead to the activation of diverse youth presence in the gun violence prevention movement throughout California.
    • Assisting in the development of a national iteration of the Louder Than Guns campaign.
  • Leveraging our partnerships with the Los Angeles Police Department to begin building our gun dealer inspection tool into existing local independent gun dealer inspection protocols.

We are so grateful for the support of the Goldhirsh Foundation. Together, we are making Los Angeles a safer place to live, learn, and play.

CISE Empowers Teachers to Empower Students for the Future of STEM

Posted February 1, 2020 by The Center for Innovation in STEM Education at CSU Dominguez Hills

This is an update on the winning proposal from the PLAY category in the 2018 LA2050 challenge.

California State University Dominguez Hills-LA2050 Project: NGSS & Fab Tech Training

Report on activities between January 2019 and December 2019

As part of the LA2050 Activation Challenge, the Center for Innovation in STEM Education (CISE) at CSU Dominguez Hills proposed to empower teachers and provide dynamic training and mentoring on the state adopted, industry-recognized Next Generation Science Standards. We proposed training two cohorts of 50 teachers (100 total) over two years, however, we have been able to sustain the project and are currently training the third cohort of teachers.

We are pleased to report that the third cohort of 16 teachers is due to complete the training on January 9, 2020, thus exceeding our target number of teachers per cohort and 100 teachers overall. Following is a snapshot of the teachers served, based on participants that completed a post-training survey:

74% of participants were teachers from LAUSD.

8% of participants were teachers from Compton USD.

12% of participants were teachers from Inglewood USD.

5% of participants were teachers from Lynwood USD.

87.5% of participants indicated that they had been teaching for three or more years.

70% of the participants taught multiple subjects.

25% of the participants taught science.

1.75% of the participants taught Special Education classes.

1.8% of participants taught STEM/Computer Science.

The CISE team has met all project goals through the grant implementation and is continuing to train a third cohort of teachers, offering them the opportunity to become NGSS experts and obtain a certification in Fabrication Technology. The team recruited teachers, held Kick-Off events, completed the first and second cohort of NGSS Super Training, and conducted classroom observations and Lesson Study Cycles. One of the primary focuses of the training was establishing the foundation for the Next Generation Science Standards. Participants continue to learn about the organization of NGSS, identifying what Performance Expectations (PE), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), and Cross-Cutting Concepts (CCCS) are, and how they compare to the previous set of standards. The training empowers teachers to explore how teaching with an emphasis on DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs, referred to as 3-Dimensional learning, better prepares students for college and career readiness.

All NGSS Super Training participants are offered the opportunity to obtain the Beginner Level Certification in Fabrication Technology which certifies teachers as basic, proficient, and advanced in the use of fabrication laboratory equipment for curriculum design and delivery. Every participant in cohorts one and two was successful at meeting the requirements for the Beginner Fabrication Technology Certification. Participants in cohort three will complete their certification on January 9, 2020.

Prior to the classroom observation, teachers met with an NGSS expert to agree on the observation focus and review the lesson plan; the NGSS expert reviewed and documented evidence of good teaching practices and provides formal feedback. During the Lesson Study Cycles, teams of teacher trainees engaged in collaborative planning-teaching-observation of learning, followed by lesson evaluation and refinement in preparation for a second cycle of classroom observations.

Based on the data collected throughout the training, participants found the training to be a valuable experience. Each teacher had an opportunity to demonstrate mastery and an ability to integrate the Next Generation Science Standards and the Fabrication Technology into a unit of instruction which was submitted into a shared google drive folder, for free accessibility. We are excited to report:

● Perfect attendance for each day of the training: 100% of participants attended every session.

● 100% of participants were very satisfied or satisfied with all the workshop sessions.

● 100% of cohort one and two participants indicated that they would recommend this training series to other teachers.

● 88% of cohort one and two participants indicated that they would be interested in receiving an additional certification if provided the opportunity.

Survey data indicates an overwhelming positive response to the NGSS Training offered this year.

Below are some sample participant comments:

● Great idea to look at the aquarium webcam through the lens of different CCC. It really pushed me to think beyond what I normally consider.

● Wonderful presenters! They were well prepared and very helpful!

● I look forward to using the lesson study model to further my practice.

● The instructors are very knowledgeable and passionate about making science accessible to children in underserved communities.

● I finally have a better understanding of NGSS and the 3 dimensions.

Overall, program completers acquired the required knowledge about NGSS, thus contributing to the national effort as well as our local effort to implement the new standards one school at a time. Over 20 teachers expressed an interest in participating in Cohort 3 and 16 were selected and are in the process of completing the entire training, thus exceeding the target number by 28 teachers.

While we are still a few years away from being able to measure and evaluate the impact on college and community college completion and matriculation rates, we feel confident about the impact our program has had on increasing students' immersion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math content. In context, 83 of the elementary teachers who completed our program teach about 30 students each year and the 56 middle/high school teachers teach about 150 students each year, hence impacting over 10,890 students in one year who will benefit from their teachers' new knowledge and enthusiasm. Over five years, these 139 teachers will reach 54,450 students! That means 54,450 more students excited and inspired about STEM and fabrication technology.

That's 54,450 more individuals who will contribute to making Los Angeles not just a better place, but the best place to learn, create, play, connect, and live by the year 2050!

$1,000,000 to make LA the best place to learn, create, connect, play, and live

Posted January 30, 2020 by Team LA2050

On February 3rd, LA2050 will launch its seventh My LA2050 Grants Challenge, a $1,000,000 competition to support proposals that will make LA the best place to learn, create, live, connect, and play. LA2050 is a community-guided initiative driving and tracking progress toward a shared vision for the future of Los Angeles.

The challenge aims to tap into the creativity and innovation of organizations across Los Angeles County to inspire a better future for the region. LA2050 is inviting organizations including non-profit groups, for-profit businesses, and government agencies to apply for grant funding to carry out their proposal to build a better LA.

In addition to $1,000,000 in grant funding provided by the Goldhirsh Foundation, additional funds will be awarded by the Annenberg Foundation to support organizations' diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and by the Snap Foundationto support projects that develop pathways to the creative economy. Co-working space Second Home Hollywood will also offer free office, meeting, and event space to help winning organizations accomplish their goals.

Those interested in participating in the challenge should visit for contest rules, eligibility guidelines, and submission instructions. The submission deadline is March 27th, 2020 at 5:00 pm Pacific Time.

You can follow LA2050 at,, and on Instagram @LA2050, and connect with the challenge on Twitter using #MyLA2050GrantsChallenge

Changes to the 2020 My LA2050 Grants Challenge

Posted January 30, 2020 by Team LA2050

It's time again for the My LA2050 Grants Challenge and we've made a few changes for 2020 that we're happy to share with you:

  • More time to work on your application. This year the application will be open for eight weeks (February 3 - March 27). We hope this extra time will give you more time to find collaborators, partners, and big ideas.
  • Winners will be selected via a two-step process. First, 25 finalists will be selected by our external evaluation committee. Those 25 finalists will then move on to public vote, which will determine final award levels.
  • We've selected Social Venture Partners Los Angeles to serve as our external evaluation partner. All proposals will be reviewed, scored, and evaluated by members of SVP Los Angeles.
  • Each of the 25 finalist organizations that participate in voting will receive a grant. First place in each goal category will receive $100,000, second: $50,000, third: $25,000, fourth: $15,000, and fifth: $10,000. That means there will be five $100,000 winners, five $50,000 winners, and so on.
  • More support for your project! In addition to $1,000,000 in grant funding provided by the Goldhirsh Foundation, additional funds will be awarded by the Annenberg Foundation to support organizations' diversity and equity efforts, and co-working space Second Home Hollywood will offer free office, meeting, and event space to help select winning organizations accomplish their goals.
  • We recently refreshed our LA2050 goals and metrics to ensure we're keeping up with the most pressing issues in our region.

We're Halfway There: Mid-Year Updates from our 2019 Grantees

Posted January 23, 2020 by Team LA2050

Last summer, LA voted for 10 incredible organizations to receive $100,000 to implement their solutions to our region's most pressing questions. Six months later, we're checking in on their progress toward making LA a better place.

Click on the organizations below to read their mid-year blog update.

Harlem Lacrosse Builds Community Through Sport

Posted January 23, 2020 by Harlem Lacrosse

This is an update on the winning proposal from the PLAY category in the 2019 LA2050 challenge.

This year, Harlem Lacrosse's message was #TogetherWeGrow. And we were thrilled to kick off this academic year by being awarded an LA2050 grant to make Los Angeles the best place to play! Through this partnership and with the help of many other individuals and organizations, Harlem Lacrosse - Los Angeles was able to focus on increasing our impact.

Our first priority was to strengthen our existing programs at our four school-based programs and our Community/Open programs. The LA programs kicked off the school year in August and jumped right into a fall designed to recruit new players and retain returners from last year. The highlight of the fall was our Friends & Family Fun Day, where players brought their loved ones to the field for a day of friendly competition. Students were able to showcase their own growth while teaching parents, siblings, and friends the basics. Building community through sport is an important goal of Harlem Lacrosse.

Program staff refined their skills during professional development training sessions, which included working with WeCoach on trauma-informed coaching practices, Glenn Young on progressions for teaching physical fitness, and Doug Lemov who provided best practices and customized lesson planning and practice evaluation tools to the HL staff. In addition to their practice plans, Program Directors build out a curriculum for each season which includes academic support, social-emotional learning lessons, team building activities, and enrichment experiences to support their players. Personal and professional growth through ongoing staff development is essential to the high quality programs Harlem Lacrosse offers.

We also continued to grow our partnerships, with local club teams, high school and middle school programs, and local leagues.Our girls teams were thrilled to welcome back program partner USC Women's Lacrosse team, led by coach Lindsay Munday. The USC players hosted a clinic and have been keeping in touch through a pen pal program. I know the Harlem Lacrosse girls are excited to cheer on their friends and lacrosse mentors when USC plays at home this spring. The Harlem Lacrosse boys competed and won their division in the fall box lacrosse league, a testament to the hard work these student-athletes have put in, and the dramatic improvement that can result from focused training and goal setting. Currently the boys are competing in a Winter League, and through these important competitive experiences are increasing their skills and gaining important game time minutes. Our girls will once again compete in the Pacific Edge Lacrosse Association's spring recreational league, the only all-girls league in LA, and a big supporter of what Harlem Lacrosse is doing to bring the sport into urban schools.

Harlem Lacrosse has continued to provide enrichment and career mentoring to its students as well. Through partnerships with Google and String King, students learned about local companies and potential job pathways. Students took tours of local colleges and visited museums. And we just kicked off our annual corporate partnership with AdvicePeriod, who will lead this year's cohort through a 12 week program around financial literacy.

In addition to the full-time Program Directors who work in tandem with school staff at our partner sites, Harlem Lacrosse has hired several part-time assistant coaches, many who learned about the program through their own school communities. Harlem Lacrosse players who are now in High School have also played a role as junior coaches and interns. Harlem Lacrosse is currently working on how to create more formal high school programs to continue serving the older players, through tournaments, college counseling, and coach and leadership training. Harlem Lacrosse also relies heavily on the dedicated group of volunteers who help at Play Days, and act as assistant coaches and tutors.

One unique program that Harlem Lacrosse offers is the Youth Leadership Board, a cohort of high school students who act as junior board members and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what it takes to run a non-profit organization. Applications for next year's cohort will be open in June 2020.

And finally, Harlem Lacrosse - Los Angeles continues to prioritize growth of its local advisory board. Currently we are lucky to have a group of very committed, very passionate individuals who advocate for Harlem Lacrosse and provide vital support. We are hoping to add a few more like-minded individuals to strengthen our board and increase our reach into the community; this has proven to be a bit of a challenge, as the lacrosse community, while tight knit, is still relatively small in LA. If anyone is interested in joining a mission-driven, sports-based youth development organization in a board role, please contact us!

Harlem Lacrosse is a year-round program, and our LA staff is already finalizing our busy spring season as well as our overnight camp - Camp Alex - and our day camp, Summer Academy. By the end of the year, a typical Harlem Lacrosse student-athlete will have participated in between 250-300 hours of programs. Through teamwork and deep relationships between Program Directors and their players, the students who make up the Harlem Lacrosse rosters experience growth in academics, athletics, and social-emotional learning.

Harlem Lacrosse is committed to helping each of its players find their own personal pathways to success. But we know we can't do this alone. We are so proud of our partnership with LA2050 and are excited to continue our work with our own growing team as we continue to expand in Los Angeles.

Interested in joining our team? Applications are currently open for full-time Program Director positions on our website. And we are always looking for volunteers to be coaches, tutors, and mentors. Want to learn more about Harlem Lacrosse? We will be hosting our Annual Benefit on February 6th at Sony Pictures.

​LA Troka: Sembrando Cultura y Nutrición

Posted January 23, 2020 by LA Plaza

This is an update on the winning proposal from the LIVE category in the 2019 LA2050 challenge.

The LA Troka team recently sat down with six representatives from Mexico and Central America to discuss indigenous food sources, contemporary cuisine, and community health. These individuals representing Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras shared their cultural experiences and discussed the mission of LA Troka. When asked if they had ever heard of the countries that made up the area known as Mesoamerica, they excitedly raised their hands, eager to share what they knew. This group of 3rd through 5th graders from Normandie Elementary in Inglewood shared stories of where their families had migrated from and discussed their favorite corn foods including tamales, tacos, elotes, pozole, and pupusas. Students excitedly went on to explore the ancestral corn plant through hands-on activities. They ground nixtamal into masa using a metate, observed the inside of a corn kernel under a microscope, and learned the parts of the plant in three languages (English, Spanish, Nahuatl). Students left inspired to connect with their family histories and empowered to explore healthier eating habits. This is one of many examples of a community reactivating their culinary roots.

Students grinding nixtamal into masa using a metate
Students grinding nixtamal into masa using a metate

LA Troka: Sembrando Cultura y Nurtrición, brings science, health, history, art and culture to youth across LA County by exploring connections between the historical, cultural, and nutritional components of ancient Mesoamerican foods. LA Troka addresses major issues in community health and wellness. According to findings by the Latino Legislative Caucus and the LA County Department of Public Health, Latinos are less likely to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Latinos were also found to eat fast food and drink soda more often compared to non-Latinos, resulting in higher rates of diabetes and obesity. In 2013, 32% of Latino fifth graders in Los Angeles County were reported as obese. For all these reasons and more, LA Troka works with local communities to learn about the importance of healthy living.

Since receiving the LA2050 grant in July 2019, LA Troka has reached more than 4,400 participants through 54 workshops in 26 different public and scholastic events. We anticipate continuing this positive trend and reaching our goal of 10,000 participants by the end of June 2020.

With the implementation of a participant survey, we have begun recording the impact LA Troka has on our local communities. Focusing on raising awareness of nutrition, culinary preparation, and cultural-historical background of native Mesoamerican plant foods, we have found that:

  • 90% of participants believe that healthy eating is very important for their families
  • 62% have considered the connection between food and their cultural ancestry
  • 82% of participating families said they were very willing to try new healthy food options and recipes at home after participating in LA Troka's workshops.
  • 100% of participants surveyed expressed the importance of having programs like LA Troka in their communities

We plan to continue collecting data through the end of the grant period as an evaluative tool to ensure we are meeting program and grant goals while also serving the needs of our communities.

Since receiving the LA2050 grant, we have seen an increase in requests for LA Troka programming at schools and community events. We are especially excited about the work we have begun with after school programs, including Keep Youth Doing Something, Inc. (KYDS), and have worked with entities such as City Year, LA City and County libraries, and the Department of Parks and Recreation. We've extended our reach to various communities like Pasadena, Baldwin Park, Orange County, and Pomona where we have participated in school-based workshops, community events, and STEAM Expos. These collaborations support our interdisciplinary approach to education, incorporating arts, life science, culinary and garden activities, and trilingual literacy as a way of encouraging participants to explore their own family's culture, traditions, and healthy eating.

As a LA2050 grant recipient, we've had the opportunity to network and collaborate with fellow LA2050 grantees, including the Natural History Museum. We are excited to participate in their upcoming summer program, Summer Nights in the Garden. This will be an opportunity for cross-promotion, while mutually expanding each other's audience base and bringing awareness to the Goldhirsh Foundation mission.

While we've been very successful, we've also encountered some challenges – namely, establishing consistent access to K-12 grade students which requires us to create formal agreements with various school districts. Thus far, we have been able to overcome these challenges by connecting with different school and community partners. Our goals for the next six months are to formalize agreements with charter school networks, streamline our reservation calendar, and balance K-12 school workshops with community events. Additionally, we plan to continue developing curriculum to include a total of 25 native Mesoamerican plant foods. Each of these curriculum units will consist of interchangeable lesson plans that can be used depending on event theme, school, grade, season, and student needs.

When planning for the future, we keep in mind the words and stories of our families who show immense support for the work we do. As one parent wrote to us:

“Me gusto que les enseñan como nuestros abuelos y papas nos criaron a nosotros cultivando el producto para poner en la mesa."

“I liked that they teach [the kids] how our grandparents and parents raised us, cultivating the foods that we put on our tables."

LA Troka is motivated by the understanding that students across Los Angeles carry with them a wealth of knowledge. For the 74% of students enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) who identify as Latino and the 38% who speak Spanish as their primary language at home, much of this knowledge comes in the form of family tradition, language, food, and familial history. These are the elements on which LA Troka is founded – supporting health and nutrition while communally reviving our culinary and cultural roots!


Meet VCH's Four LA2050 Artists

Posted January 22, 2020 by Venice Community Housing

This is an update on the winning proposalfrom the CREATE category in the 2019 LA2050 challenge.

For the last 30 years, Venice Community Housing (VCH) has developed deep roots in the community through its affordable and supportive housing developments, resident services, homeless services, YouthBuild program, and advocacy work in the communities of Venice, Mar Vista and Del Rey. 100 percent of those served by VCH are low-income and more than 30 percent of current tenants have experienced homelessness prior to residing with VCH.

As a result of gentrification and challenges to developing affordable housing, Venice has a lower housing supply today than it did 50 years ago. Venice has always been a long-standing epicenter for arts and culture from diverse backgrounds. With continued gentrification and the rise of Silicon Beach, Venice has been in danger of losing its unique identity and culture. This has coerced many low-income artists with long-standing roots in Venice to move out. VCH aspires to tackle this challenge head-on in an effort to preserve the arts and culture that has distinctly characterized Venice for so many years by building an economically robust and self-sufficient arts program accessible to all.

In 2018, VCH created an arts initiative called Arts Community Collective (ArtsC2), a sub-group within VCH's Advocacy Committee. ArtsC2 consists of VCH staff, tenants, local artists, and community members, and works to further VCH's mission by incorporating art projects into existing and new housing developments. Through public art installations, ArtsC2 hopes to highlight that the formerly houseless who now live in supportive housing deserve a well-designed, artful building to call home.

The funds awarded to VCH from the LA2050 challenge are being used to create murals on four buildings in VCH's portfolio. Public art installations will also serve the greater community and the nearly 30,000 tourists who visit Venice Beach on a daily basis.

Progress Update

After releasing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in fall, VCH received about 25 artist applications, from which 12 artists were selected and invited for interviews. Each artist was interviewed by a panel of staff and artists from the ArtsC2 committee. Through group consensus, the final four artists were selected in mid-December.

In addition to artist selection. ArtsC2 also worked with VCH's Property Management team to select the four buildings that will serve as the sites of the murals. Representing a mix of affordable and supportive housing units, the selected sites are located at 102 Navy St., 12525 Washington Pl., 4216 Centinela Ave, and 4429 Inglewood Blvd.

ArtsC2 is currently in the process of selecting the artist apprentices, who will receive a stipend to assist and learn from the lead artists. Those interested have responded to a separate RFQ. Two apprentices have been chosen, and the remaining two openings will be finalized by January 31 after receiving input from the lead artists.

The final step in building each mural team is to select a community liaison for each project. He or she will be the conduit between the artist and the residents of the building. Ideally, this role will be filled by a tenant from each of the four buildings. ArtsC2 will consult the Resident Services team for tenant recommendations.

In the next six weeks, each lead artist will attend a tenant meeting at their respective sites of their art installations. Tenant meetings are facilitated by VCH's Resident Services and Property Management staff and will be the forum for tenants to provide feedback to the artists about how they feel about their homes and what they would like to see in the murals. VCH staff and tenants can't wait to see what the artists come up with!


In January, artist Ivo Vergara finished VCH's first mural project at 200 Lincoln Blvd. VCH held an unveiling party on January 11th, which was well attended by community members, VCH staff and supporters, and the individuals whose faces were featured in the mural. Our first art installation was a great success, with many lessons learned along the way that will help inform our processes moving forward with the next four murals.

To follow along as the artists begin their design and community engagement process, find us on Instagram @vchcorp and @artscsquared

Pictured: VCH staff, muralist Ivo Vergara, and community members whose portraits are featured in the mural

Meet VCH's LA2050 Artists!

My name is Samantha Aguilar. I am a Los Angeles based illustrator and painter. A lot of my inspiration comes from the Los Angeles Community. All of my paintings communicate a hopeful message that I hope will encourage people to feel represented and uplifted.

Gary Palmer was born in Belfast in 1968, and grew up in small town of Holywood, Northern Ireland. He completed a Master's degree in Architecture at University of Edinburgh in 1992. He has traveled in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. making 3D Chalk drawings for international festivals. Some of his accomplishments include winning competition for public art in London in 1994, and being commissioned for the Ulster Museum in Belfast in 1995. Gary emigrated to the U.S. in 1996, and now works from his studio in Venice, California.

Educator and Muralist Sergio Daniel Robleto has been actively engaging with multiple communities in order to produce murals that deliberately act as a platform and voice for the locals. Most notably is his collection of murals made in collaboration with the community of Boyle Heights. He manipulates the aesthetic of each mural so that it links directly with the aspirations, concerns, and culture of the people therein. The result he says " is a wall that acts as a silent dialogue with the beholder."

Henry Lipkis was born in Venice, and grew up on the boardwalk eating Big Daddy's pizza, sitting on the grass sketching local characters, and slowly becoming one himself. Though now based in New Orleans, Venice has shaped and compelled him to paint substantive murals around the world for the last 10 years. After moving away and honing his community based practice, Henry is eager to return home to create a personal monument to Venice.

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