2020 Grants Challenge

Celebrating Diversity, Inclusion, and Culture Through the Eyes of Angelenos

Idea by Noun Project

Noun Project believes that visual language has the power to shape, reinforce, and change our perceptions about the world. We will hire local photographers to build a new collection of photos representing the diversity, inclusivity, and culture of the city we love, and partner with an arts non-profit to provide photography mentorship to 30+ students. The photos will be made available for anyone to use for free under a Creative Commons license, so that images representing a more inclusive world can be shared from the classroom to the boardroom.


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

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g, using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

What is the need you’re responding to?

We believe visual language has the power to shape, reinforce, and change our perceptions, and that representation is a fundamental part of equality. Despite recent steps we’ve taken as a society to champion equality, many visual representations still support outdated stereotypes. We want to utilize photography to give a visual voice to people who’ve traditionally been underrepresented and build a collection of photos that are beautiful, authentic, inclusive, and diverse.

With people from over 140 countries speaking 224 languages, 73% of residents identifying as POC and 50% women, LA is one of the most diverse cities in the world and a leader in diversity, inclusion, and cultural initiatives. We want to hire local photographers to document and highlight the authentic beauty of our communities. The final collection will be free under a Creative Commons license, ensuring it spreads far and wide, from the classroom to the boardroom, setting a new precedent for visual representation.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Noun Project launched in 2011 with a mission to build a global visual language. Since then, our community of creators has built the most extensive and diverse collection of iconography ever created. With over 6 million users, our platform is used and loved by people all over the world.

As a leader in visual communication, we have a responsibility to champion more equal and accurate representation. To create more representation and inclusion in iconography, we’ve spearheaded initiatives like the Redefining Women icon collection, writing guidelines for depicting race in iconography, and enforcing strict curatorial rules. Guided by the same vision and principles we were founded on, we are now challenging outdated stereotypes in photography.

As an LA-based company, it’s important that we support the local creative community while sharing with the world what makes LA an inclusive, innovative, and vibrant city.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 1,000

Indirect Impact: 6,000,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

This project will directly impact LA’s creative community by supporting local photographers and students. By highlighting some of the incredible people in our communities and organizations working in the areas of immigration, gender equity, education, and more, we will be amplifying a powerful message about Los Angeles, diversity and inclusion.

The publicly released photo collection will have a positive social impact and set a new precedent for more equal and accurate representation in visual media. Most poignantly stated by researcher George Gerbner: “Representation in the fictional world signifies social existence; absence means symbolic annihilation.”

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

Noun Project aims to:

- Build a free collection of 1,000+ photos representing diversity, inclusion, and culture in Los Angeles

- Put money back into the local economy by hiring local photographers and creatives

- Work with a local arts non-profit to provide photography mentorship opportunities for students

- Distribute the final photo collection to 6 million+ users, showcasing Los Angeles as the beacon for diversity, inclusion, community, and culture

- The collection will live on for free, on-going access available to anyone around the world

- Promote our partner organizations, community leaders, and the final collection to highlight Los Angeles and set a new precedent for visual representation

Which of the CREATE metrics will your submission impact?​

Arts establishments, instillations, and exhibitions

Employment in the creative industries

Global cultural and economic influence (“soft power”)

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to CONNECT

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community