2020 Grants Challenge

Tuition-Free Digital Arts Education

The LA2050 Challenge funds will go directly toward the tuition costs of our inaugural cohort of 40 students. They will receive a tuition-free, 3-year education in digital arts using our proven curriculum from working professionals in the entertainment industry. In addition, they will receive wraparound services to promote retention among low-income or underserved students to ensure they complete the program, including counseling, soft-skills training, transportation, and other assistance.


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

Central LA

East LA

South LA

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

Talent is equally distributed; opportunity is not. While LA is the center of the entertainment industry and boasts a $100B+ creative economy, talented youth from low-income or underserved communities—here in our own backyards—do not have access to career pathways in this industry. The mission of Emile Cohl Arts Academy is to provide these youth with a tuition-free education focused on pathways into industry jobs.

Since 1984, Emile Cohl France has pioneered a digital arts curriculum which has produced award-winning alumni including Oscars, Annies, and others. The school purchased a campus in South LA currently undergoing renovation, and will open with an inaugural cohort of 40 students. Our mandate is to prioritize local students, youth of color, underserved youth, opportunity youth, and others. With a proven curriculum, strong ties to the industry, and a full gamut of student services, our goal is to give talented youth a strong chance to make it in the industry.

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

The inaugural cohort will serve as proof-of-concept. The first 40 graduates will allow us to showcase that it's possible to provide talented, underserved youth with a tuition-free education of the highest quality, provide them the services they need to break cycles of generational poverty, and serve as an onramp to fulfilling careers as animators, designers, special effects artists, and others. In particular, we're looking to provide opportunity youth with a chance to validate our model and serve as an example to other creative industries with high education costs.

We are uniquely suited to this because we combine the curriculum, resources, and alumni of a respected 30-year institution with an entrepreneurial staff looking to prove this innovative model. In the last three years, we've built the program from scratch, building relationships with the studios, alliances with organizations serving local youth, and cultivating donors to fund the first three cohorts.

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

Direct Impact: 40

Indirect Impact: 1,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

By offering tuition-free education to local, underserved youth, we seek to elevate local economies by breaking cycles of generational poverty and injecting capital and prosperity into local communities. We envision this as a virtuous cycle: youth who might otherwise not have pathways into these highly-paid jobs in LA's creative economy are given the opportunity to thrive in the industry. Their prosperity benefits their families, whose future generations now have onramps into the middle class. Their prosperity in turn elevates the local community, whose members now have networks that include professionals in the entertainment industry. As more and more people benefit, the impact grows exponentially to reach more and more talented youth.

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

At heart, the program is designed as an innovative solution to connect employers to local talent, and provide opportunities otherwise unattainable to local talent. Our success will be measured in accordance to each of these stakeholders.

For students, success will be measured through the following primary KPIs: number of applications received, number of students entering the program, retention rate (at least 80%), job placement rate, and average salary at placement.

For employers, success will be measured through the following primary KPIs: number of applicants submitted for employment, number of applicants hired, reduction in time-to-hire, reduction in applicants hired from abroad. Ultimately, for studios our success will be measured by the diversity of voices, styles, and perspectives of their creatives, who will make unique contributions to the industry.

Ultimately, we seek to replicate our successes in France with local LA and California youth. Our ideal paradigm is Sidney Kombo, a 2002 graduate and the first to receive a tuition-free education. Since completing the program, Sidney has worked on Planet of the Apes, Gravity, and most recently served as the creator of Marvel's Thanos for the movie franchise. He is currently senior animator at Weta (Peter Jackson's animation company in NZ).

If we can offer the same opportunity to talented, underserved youth here in LA, individuals who can remain here in their communities and elevate these communities through their economic prosperity, then we've achieved our vision.

Which of the LEARN metrics will your submission impact?​

Arts education

Opportunity youth (“Disengaged youth” 16-24 not working or in school)

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

LA is the best place to CREATE

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

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation