2020 Grants Challenge

The Nia Intentional Living Opportunity Youth Project (NILOY)

We seek support for Opportunity Youth (OY) ages 16-24, in attaining: access to mental health services; social and emotional well-being & life skills; enhanced social connections; and college and/or career engagement. We will target OY living in South LA and pursue opportunities for such youth in the LAX area. OY will receive intensive mental health support and self-management skills for positioning for sustained success in college and/or career pursuits; and access services and opportunities provided by LA2050 partners and LAX area businesses.


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

South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project or new program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Partnerships include: Beyond Conversation; Heart 2 Soul Coaching Now; and Soulfulness for Life. Partnerships will be pursued with: Mayor’s Fund for LA; Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC); LA:Rise; Hire LA’s Youth; Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)

What is the need you’re responding to?

This project responds to the need to reduce the number of disengaged youth in LA; and address the lack of social and emotional (SEL) wellbeing of OY in LA. For OY, not working and not attending school matters for their life opportunities. For OY, between the ages of 16-24 neither working nor in school, these years can be a critical time in their lives, as decisions made at these ages can have a long-term impact on one’s future career and life trajectory.

Using a culturally responsive & holistic approach, OY will be exposed to: 1) SEL skills; 2) real life examples of engaged youth; 3) mental health services; and 4) access to entry level jobs in the City of Los Angeles, particularly the LAX area. Project activities will include: 1) purposeful life training skills; 2) therapy; 3) college and career exploration, and placement; 4) mentoring support; and 5) technology training (including meaningful social media contacts and greater connections to online job searching information).

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

HARC is committed to preparing LA urban youth for social and emotional wellbeing & career exploration. Dr. Patricia Williams, project director served: urban students as an educator, public administrator, & charter school founder. Monique Sudduth, project coordinator, served K-12 LA students in academic education, social-emotional development, with master’s studies in Transpersonal Psychology with a focus on transformative life coaching . Reginald Bellard, project coordinator, is the founder and President of HARC. He is a community entrepreneur, and wellness professional. Experiences include: mediation facilitator and wellness coaching; and instructor in post-secondary college. He lectures on public health, mindfulness meditation, & stress management. Dr. Shelly Harrell, therapist, is a psychologist and Full Professor at Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Ed and Psychology. She trains mental health professionals on cultural competence and conducts mental health workshops.

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

Direct Impact: 30

Indirect Impact: -

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

OY in LA are disproportionately Black and Hispanic (80%) live in low-income neighborhoods and face key barriers to job access such as disconnections and labor market discrimination. Barriers include: lack of home internet access; limited social networks (outside of low-income communities); and greater connections to online job searching information & skills. In LA: 1) entry level jobs are clustered in several regions including the LAX airport area; and 2) South LA is one of three areas where most OY reside. We will target OY living in South LA and career opportunities around LAX. OY can engage in unhealthy behaviors such as criminal activities. Helping OY reconnect to society, SEL balanced, can also help build a healthier community.

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

LA2050 goal: 100% of those experiencing mental illness have access to services including medication or counseling. 100% of OY will receive therapeutic group counseling; Participants with acute mental health needs and/or experiencing mental challenges will receive intensive individual therapy session (with subsequent referral and/or case management support for continues services). LA2050: reports that in 2015, 11.7 percent of youth, 16-24, in the City of Los Angeles were considered opportunity youth, not working or in school; and has set its target as: less than 5% of youth, 16-24 in the City of Los Angeles will be disengaged from work and school. Our project aims to empower and support the development of socially and emotionally healthy Opportunity Youth, ages 16-24. Our vision for this project includes: 1) Increase access to mental health services to Opportunity (Disengaged) Youth to provide community alternatives to isolation, suicidal tendencies, trauma, and depression; 2) Increase engagement of OY via providing, culturally responsive, social and emotional learning skills; 3) Increase Youth engagement by providing greater connections to online job searching, information, platforms, and skills; and 4) Increase college and career opportunities for OY. Secondary metrics include: Youth contribute meaningfully to civic life:90% of Youth will utilize a digital platform to voice their opinions; Dream metric: Youth will increase total number of local social media friends and connections by 10 friends; and 90% of Youth will either enroll in school or be assigned to work (and no longer be classified as disengaged). Project success will be measured, ongoing throughout the project, formally and informally, soliciting feedback from all stakeholders. Project services and activities will be adjusted, as data supports, to ensure the highest level of success upon project conclusion.We will seek to partner with the Mayor’s Fund for LA and link our youth to opportunities provided through its following programs: Evolve Entertainment Fund; Hire LA’s Youth; LA’s College Promise; and the Youth Employment Pilot. Outcomes from partnerships may include: paid internships, mentorships and educational opportunities; access to career assessment and job matching technologies; work force skills development and private sector job opportunities; and a 2-year free college experience.

Which of the LIVE metrics will your submission impact?​

Access to mental health services

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

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

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

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation