2019 Grants Challenge
🎉 Finalist

Blue Sky LA

BREATHE LA is seeking support for Blue Sky LA, an air quality improvement program fueled by volunteer projects to help us clean our air by the 2028 Olympics. We’ll engage residents through monthly volunteer opportunities, track effectiveness by identifying the number of people participating in each event, and quantify reductions in harmful emissions via a digital platform. Our goals are to engage residents, promote collaboration, and establish LA as the global leader in reducing air pollution.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Climate Cents

Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Each of our team members, at all levels or our organization, has a personal story about how they have been inspired to protect each breath we take. Through education, advocacy, and ongoing research, we promote clean air because it is fundamental to leading a healthy human life.

Steve Bryson, a BREATHE LA Board Member, gives both his time and financial support to our organization. Steve’s dedication to improving lung health is inspired by his father’s lifelong battle with severe asthma. His father’s asthma not only impacted his life as a child, but also affected his adult life when he came to live with Steve and his family during his worst struggles with a progressive disease. This personal experience galvanized Steve’s belief in BREATHE LA’s mission and serves as inspiration for our work.

One of our Health Educators recently shared a story about a student in one of our Long Beach after-school programs, O24U®. Giselle, a 7th grader at the Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar, excitedly told the group, “I made the non-toxic cleaner with water and vinegar. Not a lot of people know about it. We can influence other people to make a cleaner, so it won’t harm your body.” The ability to raise awareness, make connections, share knowledge, and improve well-being all came together in this simple reflection of what was learned in an after-school program. It validated the numerous factors and tools our Health Educators consider when developing curricula and creating meaningful activities for students.

Marc Carrel, BREATHE LA’s President and CEO, worked for nearly a decade leading government relations, community affairs, and environmental justice programs at the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), Southern California’s regional clean air agency. Despite his extensive experience in the field, Marc’s inspiration comes from his family. He is the father of three active daughters with asthma and has personally seen how air pollution on bad air days trigger asthma attacks in his children. Each day he comes to work inspired to develop more ways to support clean air and healthy lungs because he is personally invested in reducing air pollution so that everyone can breathe clean air.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​​

Rates of volunteerism

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

County of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to CONNECT?

More than 10 million people in Los Angeles County breathe in harmful air pollution. Eighty-eight percent is from transportation-related sources. We know that exposure to ambient air pollution can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections, aggravated asthma, COPD, bronchitis, lung cancer, and kidney failure. It has also been linked to decreased cognitive function, depression, anxiety, weaker bones, impacts on children in utero, decreased fertility in men, and premature death.

BREATHE LA, along with partnering non-profit Climate Cents, will create a roadmap of “citizen-driven” projects that will help to achieve reduction in air pollution, improve the environment for Angelenos, and showcase how collaboration can effect change as we prepare to host the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics.

Engaging Volunteers: Blue Sky LA will use social media and email blasts to organize local projects through our community-based partners. Potential volunteers can learn where and how to get involved based on their interests and specific community needs. Projects may include tree planting; establishing urban gardens and parks; installing cool roofs; focusing collective action on telecommuting, biking, or using public transportation; composting; or developing other green programs that our residents prioritize. Each month, Blue Sky LA will present a community engagement activity. People can sign up to volunteer via community-based organizations, social media, and email blasts. We will also recruit volunteers through our financial sponsors, elected officials, media organizations, and government agencies.

Visual Tracking: Blue Sky LA will create and manage an interactive map to show the locations of current volunteer opportunities, number of registered volunteers, and each project’s potential impact on air pollution.

Reporting: Climate Cents will develop a digital platform that is compatible on all web browsers and mobile devices. Following project completion, the dashboard will track each project’s benefit to air quality, the total number of participants, and how much money was raised. Every donor, volunteer, and community partner will be able to share what he or she did to improve the air quality in the region. This is how motivation builds and change is mobilized.

Population: While Blue Sky LA is a county-wide initiative, we will particularly target vulnerable populations from disadvantaged Southern California communities to improve their awareness, environment, and health.

Timeline: Blue Sky LA plans to begin monthly programs in 2019 and accomplish stated annual goals by the end of a one-year timeframe.

Measurable Progress: We estimate that we will have access to more than 3,000 potential volunteers through our community partners. Our goal is to recruit a minimum of 1,000 volunteers during our first year, exceeding the national rate of volunteerism of 25 percent.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Lateral application (testing feasibility of a proven action/solution to a new issue or sector)

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

In year 1 of Blue Sky LA, we will define success by meeting the following goals:

1. Engage 1,200 volunteers during year one through partnerships with community-based organizations.

2. Provide 12 community-based educational sessions per year about air pollution.

3. Reduce greenhouse gases by 3,000,000 pounds per year.

4. Plant 200 trees per year.

5. Create 5 urban gardens per year.

6. Convert 100 drivers to biking through signed pledges annually.