2020 Grants Challenge

Circle Up Los Angeles (C-U-LA)

“Circle Up Los Angeles” invites Angelenos to experience the care, regard and presence of community. Weekly in-person and virtual Councils will be hosted in a diverse cross-section of LA communities, providing the opportunity to gather and connect with myriad non-profit professionals, police officers, healthcare workers and system-impacted and formerly incarcerated individuals served by us and our partner-organizations. C-U-LA will open hearts and give voice to stories of all Angelenos, creating community through celebrating our shared journey.


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

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

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.)

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

While Center for Council is the sole applicant for this proposal, C-U-LA is a collaborative project which will engage our network of partners and allies in new ways. C-U-LA will be implemented through partnership with “Host Organizations,” who will provide venues and invite their communities to our in-person Councils. Center for Council will support organizations with all resources to host successful Councils, including experienced facilitators, as well as marketing kits to communicate the intention of “C-U-LA Funded by LA2050” as A SPACE FOR CONNECTION. We have also allocated a venue stipend for hosts of $250 per Council, with a minimum of five events per host, sharing the resources provided by LA2050 with our community.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Center for Council is launching Circle Up Los Angeles (C-U-LA) to offer every resident in LA the opportunity to engage, interact and come together. Now more than ever, our communities need connection. In this time of polarizing elections and global health pandemics, we are faced with new societal challenges that threaten to widen the divide through isolation and “othering.” In this critical moment in time, the practice of Council has the potential to bring us together, fostering recognition of our shared humanity and interconnectedness. Council offers a replicable, self-perpetuating, portable platform that enables individuals to give voice to their unique stories, develop mutual respect and compassion for others, cultivate a positive response to stress, anger and hostility and achieve a sense of balance. The Council circle is free from the limited binaries of right and wrong, democrat or republican, us vs. them — it’s a birthplace for innovation and understanding, lifting every voice.

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

Center for Council has been recognized as a leader in training individuals in the powerful practice of Council for decades, creating transformative programs within the criminal and social justice, educational and health care systems. Connection is what we do and Council is how we do it. Council is an age-old practice that brings people together in a circle to bear witness and share authentically. Participants speak one-at-a-time, sharing their personal stories and experiences, rather than opinions, and listening non-judgmentally while others do the same. C-U-LA offers a scalable model to bring the practice of Council to communities throughout Los Angeles. By creating access to hosted public Council circles, and expanding on new virtual models, developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this project will enable hundreds of Angelenos to “Circle Up,” to directly experience slowing down and listening, recognizing and bearing witness to our collective challenges and shared humanity.

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

Direct Impact: 1,350

Indirect Impact: 6,750

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Compassion begins with slowing down, paying attention and caring for the inner life of oneself and others. Through the practice of Council, C-U-LA will foster compassion in individuals and groups. C-U-LA will empower individuals to find their voice and share their story in a circle of people who care enough to listen without judging. As we hear the resonance in the story of “the other,” and realize that we’re all in this together, community emerges. Independent research has demonstrated that our work transforms environments of anger, aggression and hostility, enables people to connect with others in new and meaningful ways, creates safe and supportive space for self-reflection, self-expression and connection without fear of judgment.

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

Center for Council will define and measure the success of Circle Up LA by monitoring the quantity and quality of our impact. CU-LA will deliver 36 in-person and 18 virtual Councils with 25 participants each directly serving up to 1350 people over nine-months. However, this merely demonstrates the first layer of impact as Council has a positive ripple effect among the families, businesses and communities of those touched by this project.

Center for Council will monitor: how many people participate in C-U-LA Councils; how many people take a secondary action after participating (i.e. hosting their own Council, participating in a training, bringing Council to their workplace, etc.); as well as how participants extend the intentions of Council (i.e. listening and speaking from the heart) into their lives.

After attending a Council, participants will receive an email with resources and activities intended to both support them and monitor the impact of the experience. We will ask participants to think about how they are experiencing the light around them, the air, the noises. How are they beginning and ending conversations, experiencing touch? What are they hearing and seeing anew in others and themselves? The intention is to measure participants’ ability to be present with the people and world around them. Paying attention like this extends the intentions of Council and invites a new way of engaging that relies heavily on listening, observing and responding, rather than reacting.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​

Social and emotional support

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

Access to the LA2050 community

Host public events or gatherings

Communications support

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff