2018 Grants Challenge

Imagine. Recruit. Transform. Inspire.

City Year Los Angeles connects Angelenos across the city to beautify school campuses, making them more welcoming, vibrant places for students to learn.


Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

City Year Los Angeles will engage volunteers across the city to beautify some of the highest need school campuses in LAUSD. Together we will transform dozens of school campuses, making them more vibrant places for students to learn and grow. We will connect volunteers to the various vibrant neighborhoods that exist across Los Angeles, and will work together to help students feel a deeper connection to their communities and a greater sense of pride in their schools.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your activation impact?​

Rates of volunteerism

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?​

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA



How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?​

Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities

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

Los Angeles is a city filled to bursting with diverse, vibrant communities. But for many in our city it can be easy to grow isolated within our own neighborhoods, and we don’t always take the opportunity to experience all that is happening across Los Angeles. City Year Los Angeles seeks to connect Angelenos across community lines, bringing them together in the name of service. We will engage volunteers from all over the city to beautify school campuses in some of the highest need neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Together we will paint murals, tend gardens and build the necessary infrastructure to make every child’s school an exciting place to learn.

We believe that volunteerism and civic engagement are at the heart of building a strong democracy, and at the center of our organization is the conviction that no matter where someone lives, they should play an essential role in making sure their larger community is healthy and thriving. In fact, our service is founded in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s idea that “everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” It is our dream to engage every single Angeleno in one of our volunteer projects, giving each person an opportunity to give back to their community. When we volunteer in our schools, we show students that adults who aren’t even from their communities care about them. Every child deserves to know that even if we don’t always look like each other, we are there to look out for each other.

In addition to connecting Angelenos from all over the city, beautifying schools helps students feel safe, comfortable and at-home in their school environment. When we paint a school’s walls we help ensure that every school is a space where a child is excited to learn. It is our hope that creating these spaces helps keep kids in school and invested in their education. We work closely on every project with a school’s administration to make sure we are doing projects that align with a school's goals. Many of our elementary school partners are trying to promote a college-going culture on their campuses, so we paint college logos and examples of pathways to success to help manifest this culture of excellence. At our high schools we often paint murals that help generate school pride and bring together the student body as one unified community. We also paint school blacktops and handball courts with games and activities to help provide students with spaces to play as they learn.

One example of our incredible impact is our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. On this day we connect over 800 people in volunteerism, including students, teachers, corporate partners, political leaders, community members and City Year AmeriCorps members and their families. Every year on this day we build bridges across town in order to transform a high school in need. At other projects throughout the year we engage students from independent schools and their families, as well as individuals from every sector and walk of life.

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

It is our primary goal to connect Angelenos across communities in service. We will bring students together with adults from outside their communities, and will work closely with our corporate partners in order to ensure we have enough volunteers to complete service projects all over the city. We rely heavily on our corporate partners to recruit and bring in volunteers to help us complete our projects. Past corporate partners have included Comcast NBCUniversal, Sony, Aramark, Hulu, The LA Clippers, Starbucks, Holland & Knight, Dreamhost, The Wonderful Company, AT&T, TSA, The Honest Company, and the LA Rams. We also partner with independent schools in Los Angeles to complete service projects, helping students learn the value of service together with their families. Additionally, we engage our own Board of Directors and Associates Board to help bring together people from their networks to engage in projects. Of course, our most important partner and collaborator is the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). We work closely with LAUSD to determine which schools most need our help and can benefit from our service. These are the places we most frequently deploy our volunteers.

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

Evaluation and data are at the heart of our work at City Year Los Angeles. We know a Day of Service has been successful when our volunteers leave feeling engaged and educated about our work, and when a school is happy with the work we have done. In order to measure success with our volunteers, we use volunteer surveys. It is always our goal that based on these surveys, we maintain a Net Promotor Score of 90 or above for each project. This shows us that volunteers believe the day was enjoyable, well-organized, and had an impact on the community.

We determine our success with school partners via the survey we provide our principals and school administrators. The number one question we look to is whether or not a principal would recommend our services to another school. Our goal is that 100% of our partner principals will recommend our work, because we believe this means they considered our service to be impactful for their community.

Over the two years of the LA2050 grant it is our goal to engage a minimum of 5,000 volunteers, who will beautify school campuses serving over 100,000 students, families and community members. Over the two years our volunteers will complete a minimum of 15,000 hours of service during which they will not only beautify school campuses, but also develop a deeper understanding of a school or community they may never have engaged with otherwise.

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

City Year Los Angeles currently deploys 270 AmeriCorps members to provide individualized academic services to students at 31 Los Angeles schools. When we engage with our volunteers at schools all over the city, it helps introduce our services to future partner schools and allows us to get acquainted with new community members. It is our hope that this activation will serve as a catalyst to further grow our services and partnerships in Los Angeles. Through our activation we will grow the number of corporations and individuals in the city who know about our work, and will also have the opportunity for forge new relationships with schools we haven’t had an opportunity to work with yet. In five years we hope to be deploying even more AmeriCorps members, who will help us serve in more of Los Angeles’ schools, and we hope to continue engaging even more partners and volunteers in our Civic Engagement work.