2021 Grants Challenge

Creative Pathways

Idea by Venice Arts

Grants funds will support the integration of our existing Creative Pathways (CP) college and career readiness activities with our new Film & Digital Media Pilot (F&DM) program. In this program, low-income youth of color, current and former foster youth, justice-involved and/or LGBTQ youth receive training in the creative industry skills needed for internships and first jobs. We hope that by helping young people overcome systemic barriers to entry, they will be empowered to find career success diversifying the voices in LA’s creative workforce.


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

Central LA

East LA


What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Los Angeles’ economically disadvantaged youth lack equitable access to the educational experiences, resources, and support often afforded their more advantaged peers. Those that hope to work in creative industries are regularly faced with a myriad of barriers that impede success. For youth of color, current and former foster youth, justice-involved and/or LGBTQ youth, the challenges can be overwhelming. The creative industry field represents the 2nd largest labor sector in LA, yet minority representation within the field remains stubbornly and disproportionately low. This disparity distorts representation, silences voices, and leaves far too many talented young people on the outside, looking in. Exacerbating the current situation are the negative impacts of pandemic-related lockdowns and social distancing on youth’s mental health. As we look to a post-pandemic future it is clear that support for young people’s emotional needs is critical to their well-being.

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

Our Creative Pathways program readies low-income young people for college and career achievement by inspiring in each a belief in their own potential, and by providing the high caliber learning environments, information, support, and resources necessary for success. Aligned with our vision for a more equitable and inclusive society, our participants learn the hard and soft skills needed to enter the workforce, secure internship placements, and navigate the college application, financial aid, and scholarship process. LA 2050 funding would be instrumental in helping integrate our existing CP program activities including college days, career panels, 1:1 mentoring with our new F&DM pilot. F&DM’s training in digital video creation and filmmaking is designed to lead to paid internships but doesn't address college. Youth participants in Venice Arts other programs would benefit significantly with expanded case management services. Venice Arts safely resumed on-site programs in July 2020. We know that processing pandemic risks and restrictions, isolation, grief, racial injustice, economic uncertainty, and food insecurity, is emotionally challenging for all, especially young people. Having witnessed this struggle and experienced first-hand the devastating consequences when hope is lost, we held a special training session for all staff led by a pediatric psychologist. Venice Arts’ commitment to serving our youth and helping to ease their social isolation has never been stronger.

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: 300

Indirect Impact: 1,500

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

Venice Arts’ first workshop in 1993, Venice Through Our Eyes, taught young people how to use the camera to find their voice: exploring, describing, and sharing their world through visual storytelling. Most had rarely seen their lives represented in the media and, when they did, often saw one-dimensional stories of poverty, violence, and despair. Our programs—conceived in a pre-digital era when teaching a young person how to use a camera to tell the stories of their lives was a unique and radical act—taught participants about the power of visual self-representation. As our pedagogy emphasizes the “whole child,” integrating creative/artistic, academic, and personal development, we have taken the work a step further with goals to help low-income young people succeed both in college and in the creative workspace. We hope for a Los Angeles creative industry that values the voices and contributions of all, including those marginalized by class, race, and immigration status.

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

Venice Arts has a long history of measuring outcomes and using data to inform and improve our programs. The data used to define our Creative Pathways’ outcomes are: activity participation; college application, acceptance, and graduation rates; internship application and placement rates; awards submitted and awards received. Program impact is evidenced in our successful track record of connecting underserved youths to creative career pathways. We have exposed countless youth to what it means to work in media arts and creative sectors; have organized hundreds of presentations, career-panels, and career-directed field trips; and have placed nearly 150 low-income and underserved young people, in paid internships. Past placements include NBC-Universal, Dreamworks, Univision, Sundance Institute, Motive, Brave New Films, KCRW, among many others. Our young media makers have also won hundreds of national, state, and local awards including recognition as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

Which of the CREATE metrics will you impact?​

Arts establishments, instillations, and exhibitions

Employment in the tech industries

Employment in the creative industries

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

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