2019 Grants Challenge

Creative Play After School Programming

Our after-school program would serve Title 1 schools in LAUSD. Many children do not have access to after school care. We seek to implement Crayon Collection teachers inside the schools to work on creating PLAY with the would-have-been-trashed crayons we have collected from local LA restaurants to benefit vulnerable students in Los Angeles. The projects we offer students are created in partnership with professional artists offering deep learning experiences that are fun and developmentally rich.


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

The birth of Crayon Collection is very unique as it originated from solving a systemic problem of wastefulness in America. We noticed that restaurants in America were throwing away over 150 million crayons per year. These crayons are made of paraffin wax and never decompose, damaging our precious environment. At the same time budget cuts in education left art programs to be only in well-served schools despite proof that children with access to the arts performed better in all subjects. Additionally, teachers were forced to spend their personal earnings to outfit their classroom with the most basic school supplies. The Crayon Collection was born after we asked restaurants to collect the still good crayons kid-diners left behind. Each restaurant was then paired with a local Title 1 or Head Start school who picked up an average of 2,500 per month. The schools and the restaurants were never over 5 miles apart so it was a community effort to find a new home for the crayons versus tossing them in the trash. This program then evolved in order to solve the lack of art education in schools as well because we felt that the arts should not only be for affluent children. All children have a right to use their left and right brain to learn. We began to challenge local LA artists who had a masters degree in fine arts and were represented by LA based galleries. The parameters we asked them to abide by simply to create deep art projects that were fun and interesting for children using JUST crayons as the main tool. We asked them to avoid coloring projects that were about staying "inside the lines" and the results were powerful. The art projects were taught during class time in LAUSD schools by the artists themselves. We won an award for our work inside the classroom by the LAUSD school board. Now, we seek to support schools in their after school programming so that we can fill in a huge void that they desperately need help with. We are most proud when we hear that the Crayon Collection crayons we provide children are actually the first pack of crayons they have ever had to call their own.

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

Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play

Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs

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


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

We seek to support children attending LAUSD schools who are in need of after school programming at their schools. They are in need of a safe place to play and create while their parents are at work. We will work with the schools that are in the bottom 5% of LAUSD. The student population we will served ranges from 5 years of age to 11 and are kindergarten - 5th grade. Seventy-eight percent are of Latino descent and 8 % are African American. One-hundred percent are living under the poverty line and are on the free meal programs at their schools. There are homeless families included in this population who we will also serve. The schools we will serve will be on a 1 month rotation with 1 after school class per day. We will work with 5 schools at a time and serve at total of 45 schools in the 2019-2020 school year. Each teacher will serve 1 school for the month and then move onto the next school and repeat the curriculum. The classes will be about creative play and opening the children's minds to art and creative expression. The artists we are currently working with will be providing the new art projects. LA will be the best place to play because we plan to also bring the local artists inside the classrooms as often as possible. This collaboration between key artists and restaurants (who donate the crayons) to help underserved schools is a synergy like no other. The change we will make in the childrens lives has already been seen as we piloted the program. Each class begins with a game that varies from Simon Says, or a riddle or a color challenge. Then the project begins and the kids are able to express themselves in ways that are most unique as the project is created by an artist who has high education and ability to create. For example, one artist conceived Crayon Collection project uses crayons to teach a technique called "Blind Contour Line Drawings" through a Basquiat-esque project. Another project teaches various shading techniques by Rembrandt. Each day the students will work on a new project and have the chance to hone in on their abilities with their own pack of crayons that were donated to them but Crayon Collection. We will survey the children about their interest in the arts and their knowledge of the various techniques and artists. At the end of the month we plan to survey the students again to see what knowledge they gained from the program and whether they enjoyed it. After the project is complete the students are able to benefit from the teacher for homework assistance as well.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Post-pilot (testing an expansion of concept after initially successful pilot)

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

Currently, we are post pilot for our after school program test, which consisted of 6 lessons 1x a week for 6 weeks at a Boys and Girls Club in South LA. Each lesson was 60 minutes and started with a game the teacher would play with the students about colors. Next, the artist conceived project ideas were taught and the students had a great time. It was a huge success to teach our program to the students. The students and the faculty appreciated the extra curricular art lessons that included much play and creativity for the children. The director of this facility expressed how calm the children were after each of our lessons and have already asked us to come back and continue with more programming. We are currently working with 14 artists to create more project ideas in addition to the artists we currently work with who are creating their second or third project idea. We will measure success by surveying the students prior to the program at the beginning of the month as well as at the end of the month.