L.A. Futures

L.A. Futures builds success tracks for public high school youth into college and career


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

L.A. Futures builds success tracks for public high school youth into college and career

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

South Bay


What is your idea/project in more detail?

L.A. Futures is a work-based learning program which partners public schools with major creative companies to prepare students for success in college and beyond. Students build competencies and life skills through professional mentorships, job role exposure and student-driven public service projects. Through these real-world experiences, students can build success tracks into our community's thriving creative industry. An industry which represents over 10% of the gross economic contribution to the Los Angeles region needs a job-prepared talent pool to draw upon. High school is where to start. Educational entrepreneurship, through business and community partnerships, provides the resources. L.A. Futures is the connection.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Since it was inaugurated several years ago, L.A. Futures has served hundreds of upper-division high school students who have gone on to higher education at twice the rate of their peers. Through partnering with creative organizations like TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, DDB, Ruben Postaer & Associates (RPA), The Phelps Group, GreyWorldWide, Muse Advertising, Saatchi & Saatchi and IgnitedUSA, the program has provided real world applications to college and career-bound initiatives within secondary public schools. Curriculum development and learning materials have been aligned with Common Core Standards with an emphasis on 21st century skills of creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Students enrolled in L.A. Futures participate in the program throughout their upper-division experience. Throughout their experience, students routinely attend sessions at the headquarters of the creative companies that serve as school partners. During these sessions, students engage in a comprehensive curriculum that imparts principles, techniques and tools for self-development in exciting new career roles. Mentored by industry professionals, students get an inside look at key projects from strategy through creative execution. They learn how business is managed and see how today’s creative professionals with across disciplines. Working in teams, students are also challenged to put their learning into practice by engaging with local nonprofits which become their clients. . For example, Dorsey High School senior class participants revamped promotional pieces for education, parenting and job training at Community Build, an inner city resource for underserved youth. In the end, students leave the program with increased social capital, practical tools, higher expectations and a clearer understand of the demands of today’s employer. We believe that L.A. Futures is a powerful link in the continuum of college-bound-to-career efforts at a critical time in their decision-making process.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

California's leading educators are proponents of building smaller learning communities, such as "pathways" and "academies" which focus on broad industry themes, such as business and entrepreneurship, arts, entertainment and media, engineering and health services, et al.. In fact, this movement toward schools within schools is gaining quick momentum. Consequently, the Los Angeles Unified School District is showing marked interest in this model and work-based learning practices, in general. L.A. Futures is the connective tissue between the creative industry and schools and, as such, creates the dynamic partnerships that take it from theory to application. Jobs are the priority concern of our high school students. At the same time, creative companies in Los Angeles boast some of the most exciting career opportunities in which they're interested. Through direct exposure, the L.A. Futures program connects the dots for our students from where they are-to higher education-to the jobs they aspire toward. This makes learning exciting, real and tangible for them. L.A. Futures will help make Los Angeles the best place to learn in 2050 because our creative workforce will come for our own community--because the creative industry will be richer because of the multiple voices that are represented in its products and services--because industry will be able to meet diversity of employment goals--and because our workforce will be prepared and energized to shift culture through job roles and practices we don't even know the names of!

Whom will your project benefit?

Participants of L.A. Futures mirror the ethnic and economic strata of local public school student populations. Current data describes our Academy student population as follows: 72.3% Latino, 9.6% Black, 10.1% White, 4% Asian, 2.1% Filipino and Pacific Islander, .04% Native Amer. & 1.9% mixed races. 67% of our students are classified as low-income and are eligible for the federally assisted free lunch program. By drawing from the current and future talent pool of our own community the creative industry is greatly benefitted if we bear in mind that 726,300 direct and indirect jobs, or 1 in 7 jobs, represent the human capital that vitalizes this industry.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Our confirmed business partner t confirmed collaborators are:


DDB California


Saatchi & Saatchi

ThinkLA, consortium of creative companies

Our confirmed school confirmed collaborators are:

Dorsey High School

James Foshay Learning Center

Pasadena High School

Venice High School

We have worked for several years with these collaborators.

Three factors that are critical to the success of these partnerships are:

1) Shared decision-making

2) Understanding of roles and expectations

3) Evaluation and improvement

How will your project impact the LA2050 LEARN metrics?

Percentage of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years

Youth unemployment and underemployment

District-wide graduation rates

HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math

Academic Performance Index scores

College matriculation rates

Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)

Industry diversity of employment goals, preparedness for new and future job roles, diverse generations impact on the products and services of the creative industry

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

L.A. Futures emboldens classroom learning by learning and life skill experiences with industry professionals in the classroom and at their places of work. Theory and principles are translated into real-world practices and our students connect acquired knowledge with the needs and expectation of the workplace. As such, our students make the connection between college and career and become workforce ready. By developing the talent and capacity of our younger generations, we are investing in the future viability of our local economy.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Formal evaluation measurements are used to assess the performance and quality-level of the L.A. Futures program and to make recommendations for improvement. This includes entry, mid-point and exit surveys; Dialogue with educators and business partners to assess and improve curriculum delivery, strengthen overall program experience, and cultivate further career pathway opportunities; Further data is gathered of senior class before and after graduation to calculate college and vocational training and admission rates; In the coming year, we intend to form an advisory council of educators and industry professionals to help us bring the L.A. Futures program to the next level.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

The following two lessons have informed our project:

1) The expressed need for industry to hire within our own community

2) The need for students to literally see and experience exciting job roles that they can aspire toward.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

We have four business partners and four school partners and the program has already been tracked. This includes classroom visits and visits to companies' major headquarters. Meetings between partners are currently taking place at this time, for the purpose of creating scheduling and curriculum development. We are also in the process of forming further collaborations with community-based organizations who serve as clients for the students' campaigns.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

One barrier is to be able to accomplish this with a small staff, led by a Program Coordinator and Lead Instructor Mentors. Our strategy for meeting that challenge is to work with volunteers who also serve as professional mentors. Another barrier is to have enough reserve funding to be able to have the flexibility to bring in tools and resources where needed. To address this, we hired a grant writer to insure the sustainability of the program. Further, we are creating a strategic plan for developing the program over the next 3 years, building an advisory panel to broaden student participation and business collaboration.

What resources does your project need?

Network/relationship support

Money (financial capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Quality improvement research