2021 Grants Challenge

Artist Inspired Lesson Plans and Crayon Recycling Program Support

Crayon Collection has donated over 20 million crayons into vulnerable schools along with access to free Art Education lesson plans.Created by professional artists and using crayons as the main tool, these lesson plans teach vulnerable students STEM, literacy and social emotional learning connections through engaging art projects. With your support, Crayon Collection will add 14 new lesson plans, translate all lesson plans into Spanish and Chinese and provide the materials for volunteers to make crayon donations to an additional 5,000 students.


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

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Over 700,000 students attend Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), 80% (est. 560,000) of which are eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program and are classified as coming from ‘low-income’ families. Currently, only 40% of these students have access to art programs while well-served schools report 60% of students having access. “A growing body of evidence suggests that at virtually every stage of life, the arts can foster openness to novelty, encourage connections to people, places, things, and concepts, and promote the ability to take multiple perspectives, among other positive outcomes (National Endowment for the Arts, 2011)”. This makes art a powerful, but often missing, tool for supporting vulnerable students in the classroom, especially students from communities who face exacerbated stress and trauma in their daily lives.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

The National Endowment for the Arts reports that “a family’s low social-economic status (SES) can be a significant risk factor for delayed or maladaptive social-emotional development. In the evidence reviewed, the arts were linked with positive impacts for children from low-SES families.” Crayon Collection is committed to bringing art access to students in traditionally vulnerable communities. Our Crayon Recycling program is an easy to implement solution that helps to close funding gaps Title 1 schools and Head Start centers face that prevent them from providing students with the materials they need to create art. Utilizing community volunteers of all ages, we are able to redirect thousands of crayons that would have otherwise been thrown away into the hands of students who, in many cases, have never had crayons of their own. Our commitment to connecting donors with schools within 5 miles of the donation site ensures that our volunteers are supporting their neighbors directly, strengthening their community connection. We provide students with art lessons created by professional artists exhibited in major museums, such as the LACMA, MoMA and the Whitney Museum. Through these lesson plans we use art as a tool to encourage students to collaborate and support their peers, embrace new ideas and process their emotions. We reinforce STEM and literacy standards to support students academically, helping them reach potential goals that break cycles of inequity.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 5,000

Indirect Impact: 6,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Through our work, we are providing materials to help make Los Angeles a place where residents are encouraged and empowered to engage with others. Currently, only 40% of students who qualify for the free-reduced lunch program in Los Angeles county have access to art programming while their well-served counterparts have 60% access. Our goal is to close this gap and, concurrently, to close gaps in academic achievement and social-emotional growth. Our Crayon Recycling and Art Education programs inspire residents of all ages to volunteer their time to support students from their communities. Volunteerism, diversity, and social-emotional health are at the core of the work we do. We work daily to inspire a commitment to these values in schools, companies and individuals across Los Angeles. We want to build a future where residents support their neighbors, have the tools to seek out and process new perspectives and take an active role in building a better, more connected Los Angeles.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Crayon Collection tracks impact for this project based on the number of crayons recycled, number of vulnerable students served, volunteers, lesson plan views and social-emotional learning of the students served. To track changes in SEL, Crayon Collection utilizes teacher surveys to determine how our programs changed students' confidence, participation and interactions with others in the classroom. Crayons Recycled: 20,000,000 + Students Served: 30,000 + per year Volunteers: 550 Lesson Plan Clicks: 6,000 per year

Which of the CONNECT metrics will you impact?​

Social and emotional support

Public arts and cultural events


Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN