2020 Grants Challenge


We are requesting support for the creation of a multi-lingual communications campaign to inform and reassure Angeleno’s that their tap water is accessible, clean and safe to drink. On 5/17/20, Mayor Garcetti said “If you live in the city of Los Angeles, Department of Water and Power water is, ... is actually cleaner than bottled water and is clean today.” Due to years of beverage company marketing campaigns, Angeleno’s have come to fear their drinking water. Repeated education and information is necessary to change these perceptions.


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

City 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.)

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

While not a collaborative proposal, we will be working closely with LADWP who has expressed great appreciation for our #DrinkTap campaign. They have been a partner in this mission to help Angeleno's not waste hard-earned dollars on plastic water bottles and they are ready to provide all facts and figures needed to create the city-wide campaign promoting our clean tap water.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Our efforts for a new campaign called #DrinkTap, which creates a new mindset around LA's tap water, began in response to our 2019 program called #LAGREENTEEN. This began at LA High School, to teach environmental sustainability and using social media as the driver for change. Our goal was to reduce single-use plastics among students due to costs and environmental impact. However, we learned that students were encouraged to purchase plastic water bottles for drinking water, which many could not afford, because, while the available tap water was good, the water fountains making the water available were old and dilapidated and therefore unfit to provide water to the school.

We worked with the school to create a social media campaign to upgrade the water fountains allowing students to access LA's clean water resource backed by LADWP. Through this project, we learned that LADWP has been unsuccessful in communicating the quality of LA's tap water, especially among non-English speakers.

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

We found, after successfully spearheading the first ever plastic straw & cutlery ban in the City of Malibu and partnering with UberEats and Postmates to change their default settings for plastic utensils to opt in rather than opt out that impactful changes can be made at the individual and societal level. The key is trusted information and alternative solutions.

Now we are tackling the massive plastic water bottle problem. Through our research with doctors and LADWP we know that our tap water is safe, clean, and accessible. However, the marketing prowess of plastic water bottle companies have us drinking and discarding 1 million plastic bottles per minute, and 91% are not recycled. Instead, they make their way into the environment, killing sea life or degrading into microplastics, which we then ingest.

“Few things are more basic and important to all of us than good, clean water. So many of us take for granted the easy access to such a basic necessity.” – Nina L. Shapiro, MD, UCLA

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

Direct Impact: 100,000

Indirect Impact: 780,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

The broad impact of this campaign is environmental betterment that comes from decreasing plastic bottle usage/waste.

Globally, plastic water bottle production requires more than 17 million barrels of oil annually.

Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. The U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 9 percent (and declining), which means over 40 billion water bottles are thrown away each year. Plastic only starts to degrade after 700 years, so all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet. Also, plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades, meaning, it breaks down into smaller toxic micro particles, which contaminate and bleed into the environment, which we later ingest in our food and water.

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

Our communications campaign goal, targeted to Angeleno's, is to educate the community about their rights to information about their drinking water as well as inform them of its quality and accessibility. We want to reassure Angeleno's that they do not need to spend their money on bottled water and can rely on their tap water to be safe and clean.

We believe that a truthful, authentic communications campaign that informs Angeleno's of the facts is the necessary first step to undo decades of misinformation that our communities have gotten from the multi-billion-dollar water bottle industry.

The campaign message will be delivered through local targeted efforts such as neighborhood billboards and posters as well as social media, earned media and video content PSA's. The bi-lingual campaign will include easy to understand information and a hashtag to inspire sharing.

We will measure success of the campaign through a variety of pre and post audits and surveys.

Bottle Water Purchases Audit - we will select 250-300 Angeleno's as a representative sample for the larger group of 780,000 Angeleno's living below the poverty line for an online survey pre and post campaign.

Supermarket Audit - we will target several supermarkets with high populations of residents living below the poverty line to understand sales of bottled water pre and post campaign.

Los Angeles Waste Haulers Audit – The City of Los Angeles continually communicates the quantity of plastic water bottles that are discarded per year.

Social Media Metrics - we will track the campaign hashtag for likes and shares throughout the campaign.

Which of the LIVE metrics will your submission impact?​

Local water

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

LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

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

Communications support

Strategy assistance and implementation