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IAVA creating a new standard for high-tech, high-touch support to veterans

Posted October 1, 2016 by

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is utilizing the My LA2050 grant to expand the groundbreaking Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP), the premier veterans-support program in America, to Los Angeles.

As the first and largest veterans empowerment organization with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership, IAVA has redefined case management and created a new standard for high-tech, high-touch support that is serving thousands of veterans and their families while showing countless community-support organizations a new way to serve their clients with life-saving programs at scale.

IAVA's unique support model has veterans working with social workers online or via phone to address a wide variety of transition related needs, from housing, to financial, legal, health and everything in between. By simply calling the RRRP toll free number or reaching out online, a veteran is connected with a Veteran Transition Manager (VTM), who does a complete and thorough assessment of all of the veteran's needs and makes personalized referrals to local and national service providers. No appointment is necessary and there are no awkward waiting rooms, and a case isn't closed until the veteran decides that the needed resources have been obtained or that assistance is no longer needed.

With the RRRP team focusing on the critical work of connecting veterans with needed services, IAVA also pursues a broader, more comprehensive strategy for veteran support that includes prevention and early intervention. Veterans who take advantage of IAVA's support are invited to continue their involvement as Member Ambassadors to help promote the program to other veterans. With the support of the Field Team as well as these Ambassadors, IAVA is able to reach veterans where they live and work. Through regular community social events and outreach (called VetTogethers), veterans are connected with each other to help build a sense of community and camaraderie and share resources. Often, it is fellow veterans who provide the push needed, removing the stigma many veterans feel about seeking help.

Through these efforts, hundreds of veterans and supporters received information about RRRP and, thus far, 45 have been taken on as clients with 24 referrals made to support programs. Currently, five veterans are in the process of being trained to serve as local Ambassadors. Additionally, IAVA has developed key partnerships with five local service providers – nearly to the goal of six - and has held four Ambassador outreach events.

Moving forward RRRP now has a California-based VTM who, in addition to serving California RRRP clients, will be developing and strengthening partnerships in the California veterans' community and conducting regular outreach events to inform veterans and supporters about IAVA and RRRP. Additionally, an LA-wide member survey is under development to help identify new potential Ambassadors who can be trained online with the support of other peer mentors.

To learn more about the RRRP program and see IAVA's work in action check out this incredible piece from Yahoo News.

With My LA2050 grant, CASA continues work helping LA's most vulnerable foster youth

Posted September 24, 2016 by

For more than thirty years, CASA of Los Angeles has been providing highly trained volunteer court-appointed special advocates (CASAs) to aid abused and neglected foster youth, forever transforming their lives for the better.

What exactly does a CASA do? A CASA is assigned by a Dependency Court judge to an at-risk child and investigates the child's home life, identifying educational, physical and mental health challenges, and meeting with all the adults in the child's life, including parents, teachers, lawyers and social workers. The CASA then makes recommendations to the judge – offering suggestions for ensuring the child's safety, achieving permanency and promoting the child's well-being. The CASA also supports the child over the long-term on a personal basis, as a stable adult who cares about the child without being paid to do so.

It takes a special person to be a CASA. Because it requires such a significant commitment of time, experience, resources, and energy, recruitment efforts require strong marketing to further brand and advertise CASA/LA as an important volunteer experience for community members. Through the My LA2050 grant, CASA was able to:

  • Add four full-time staff members focused on recruitment and outreach to communities throughout Los Angeles County.
  • Increase training staff to include three full time trainers, broadening training opportunities and allowing CASA/LA to more quickly process volunteer applications, conduct prospect interviews, and provide pre-service training.
  • Advertise on local NPR stations, promoting CASA of Los Angeles as an opportunity to prospective volunteer candidates interested in community affairs.

The My LA2050 grant also provided CASA/LA a new level of exposure that greatly aided in recruiting more volunteers. Since the beginning of the grant, CASA has significantly increased the number of volunteer inquiries received, the number of people attending information sessions each month, and the number of viable applicants. The organization is currently on track to recruit and train 250 new CASAs by the end of 2016! In addition, CASA has been able to increasingly recruit from populations which best reflect the children served, including the Spanish-speaking, Latino, and African-American communities, as well as engaging more men and volunteers from a wider array of professions and age groups.

Through the My LA2050 grant, CASA of Los Angeles is building its capacity and working to transform the lives of our community's most vulnerable citizens: abused and neglected children in the foster care system.

To volunteer or learn more about CASA of Los Angeles' work, visit

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