2018 Grants Challenge

Back to Basics: Transforming How Angelenos Connect

Idea by Eayikes

Using service and play to humanize, connect, and empower Angelenos from all walks of life.


Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

By 2020 Eayikes brings empowerment to thousands of LA youth and adults through school programs and public events. For students we expand upon our empathy and self-esteem programs, which focus on exposure to outside communities through experiential field trips and courage through vulnerability-based activities. For adults we expand upon our human connection and personal growth programs, which focus on self-reflection and paying-it-forward as instruments for developing community and fulfillment.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your activation impact?​

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support

Rates of volunteerism

Total number of local social media friends and connections Angelenos have

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?​

LA is the best place to LEARN

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

County of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?​

Trainings and/or in-person engagements

Influence individual behavior

Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to CONNECT?​

Eayikes builds bridges within, and between, people - connecting participants more deeply with themselves and creating moments of empathy-building with each other. Whether it’s a field trip, community service project, workshop, weekend camp, or social event, what we create is an uninhibited space. It’s within this environment of wonder we begin the work of building belief in self and the road to empowerment. The next layer is utilizing the powerful diversity within our city, the richness of the human experience, and bringing participants from all walks of life together.

Our current community of youth and adults is far-reaching. Eayikes programs serve teens of Hollywood movie producers to Skid Row residents. It’s through the power of this diversity that we begin to plant seeds of compassion and a care for the “other” through the recognition of shared humanity. Ultimately we believe for someone to take action, to actually take time out of their day-to-day lives to engage with the world around them (and the issues affecting their neighbor), he/she must either feel an emotional connection to that affected person(s) or to the people engaging in the activity together. This is how we build community and, at the very core, relationships between people becoming empowered.

For the young people we work with, role-modeling is the most powerful tool in creating a safe space to connect and explore. Our programming always starts with play, such as improv games and partner introduction activities, which teach the practice of stepping into one’s authentic self. We break down the fear of judgement and this process is transformational. From this place of empowerment we then create opportunities for youth to reflect and share about their life experiences - celebrating differences and embracing commonalities. Whether it’s young people from low-income and high-income communities camping together or young people realizing their personal greatness and belief in themselves, it’s the micro breakdowns of barriers that, over time, lead to macro breakthroughs. And as much as youth are in-need, over the course of 5 years of experimentation and programming, we’ve found adults to be equally in-need of this barrier breaking work.

We’ve learned how as we grow older adults lose touch of their childlike-wonder; becoming hardened and jaded by the ways of the world. As guides, we reconnect adults back to themselves by providing respites from the hustle of life and opportunities to engage in fulfilling enrichment. We are seeing our adult participants growing in their capacity to see themselves as agents of change, and finding immense emotional support in our uninhibited spaces of self-reflection and sharing. We utilize the power of paying-it-forward and the fun within our community-building programming to draw more adults into this social and emotional support system.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to CONNECT​

Currently we target high-income West LA and low-income Long Beach communities of students. We’ve developed two school contracts, and are in the process of developing at least 4 more for the 2018-2019 school year. The programs focus on community-building within cohorts of grades, helping release students from the burdens of self-consciousness through activities that push past comfort zones, and community service & exposure trips through community partnerships.

Our population of adults come from a middle-class, 26-38 age range. We’ve found that this demographic in LA is in the midst of experiencing the grind of their own professional work that leaves community and fulfillment overlooked. For this audience we create evening workshops and weekend community service projects. As we build the community throughout the year, we then create larger-scale functions, like our festival-like campout. This includes the already communal-vibe with added on social layers of music, art, and big group experience.

We’ve never allowed financial status be a barrier to participation. Since the beginning our programs have been available to all as to create as much diversity as possible. We fundraise to provide equal access regardless of financial situation.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

Our ultimate barometer of success comes in the form of participants taking their Eayikes experience into their own communities, becoming agents of change within their social circles. This would take the form of activations sprouting outside of our direct efforts, of which we could be asked to consult and support through our base.

Other metrics are increased attendance of unique participants and retention of past participants.

Continual pre and post survey quantitative data measuring the metrics above, as well as qualitative testimonials and content capturing will keep us on track.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

In 5 years we hope to be across California, state lines, and international, bridging together communities around the world. We have a vision for bringing young people around the world to develop global mindsets through service-learning, the Eayikes way. We’ve already experimented with a service project in Tijuana, bringing our Eayikes Communitaaaay adults to volunteer at an orphanage. Additionally, building a beacon of diversity in Los Angeles through our own community center would be the next audacious goal - rooting Eayikes physically in a lower-socioeconomic area, partnering with local businesses, organizations, and schools, and bridging relationships into higher-socioeconomic areas by facilitating programs for all people in the space.