LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2021 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

Digital Dove Lab: Animation Training and Studio

Youth – particularly youth of color - experiencing homelessness in L.A. deserve high-end training that will lead to careers far above the poverty line. L.A.’s entertainment/digital effects workforce and economy is in dire need of new, unique voices and talents. This program – the Digital Dove Lab: Animation Training and Studio – prioritizes the training of youth of color in the latest animation and digital effects processes as they permanently transition to FORMERLY homeless youth.


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

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Young people – particularly youth of color - who are experiencing homelessness do not have access to the training and relationships necessary to have a successful career in L.A.’s digital arts industry, which is itself in need of their creative skills, intellectual capacities, and unique perspectives. There are more than 6,000 youth experiencing homelessness in L.A., and the programs that exist to help them develop skills and sustainability are overwhelmingly targeted to low-wage, unfulfilling jobs. To live comfortably in L.A., a person needs to earn $74,371. The jobs that are most often trained in employment programs are service industry that pay an average of $27,827. What does this mean besides the obvious disparity between target and reality? It means that our most vulnerable youth work relentlessly to increase their earning capacity, their agency, and their confidence only to exit the program into a job that puts them directly back into a cycle of poverty.

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

Digital Dove Lab: Animation and Training Studio will provide youth leaving homelessness behind – primarily youth of color – with training & career opportunities that lead to long-term financial sustainability and career success in animation and special effects. The six-month, 20-hour/week training program specializes in predetermined processes of the production train. It focuses on 1) model & character rigging; 2) digital painting; and 3) animation. While youth are training, their time is paid. When the training period has ended, youth can either A) continue their training, B) become employed by the lab, or C) become employed with an outside company that produces/uses animation; it is at once a training program and a company that produces real work for real studios. Adding to the viability and sustainability of this collaborative program is the fact that we have secured four major studio partners who A) have prioritized this emphasis upon providing better access to high-end entertainment career paths for youth of color and B) have agreed to both purchase the creative content that Digital Dove Lab will produce and employ graduates of the program. This program is the best way to address the employment barriers of youth of color because it assumes the best of its participants and trusts in their capacity to enter into high-level training immediately. It’s a housing first approach to employment; why tiptoe into a career when we have a way to dive straight into the deep end?

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

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

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

Direct Impact: 36

Indirect Impact: 1,000,000

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

From 2011 to 2016, the L.A. County Film and Digital Media industry added 49,500 jobs. The average wage in said industry is $117,000 – a +95% wage premium compared to the average wage economy-wide ($59,900) in the County. When our work is successful, we will be adding unique creators with culturally relevant stories to that economy. Providing only access and training for jobs ‘above poverty wage’ is every bit as unjust as the inequities that deny youth experiencing homelessness access to the community in the first place. L.A. – and one of its most prestigious and lucrative industries – will be richer, more informed, and, more just when it accommodates a new stream of youth with new, unique stories and journeys. In the short term, that means a minimum of 18 youth entering the local digital media landscape within six months. In the long term, the work these youth create will be integral to a more learned, culturally literate industry.

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

We will measure success as follows: 1) The training portion of the program leads directly to employment. The objective is that 75% of participants will become fully employed by Digital Dove Lab – conducting its core work of model and character rigging, digital painting, and animation – after their six-month training period has ended. Further, we expect that 20% will become employed (most commonly via contract work) by outside agencies/production companies at the end of the training period). 2) A network of paying clients sustain and grow the program into perpetuity. This is a capstone objective for the program. We have already secured four major studio partners/clients who have committed to growing projects specifically for people of color. Their commitment to A) underwriting access to high end creative careers and B) purchasing the work they create make a visible statement to the larger community as well as supporting the sustainability of this program.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

The partner organization for this collaborative proposal is Studio ‘C’, which is led by Mr. Carlos Arguello. Mr. Arguello – and his staff of three trainers/instructors – will be responsible for the implementation of the model & character rigging, digital painting, and animation curriculum. This will involve group instruction in the classroom and one-on-one attention to each student as needed. The Studio ‘C’ team will be responsible for ongoing progress management for each student and communicating said progress (or challenges) to each youth’s CHC case manager. It is through this communication that the program can at once address the training needs of each student, but also their therapeutic needs to ensure a trauma-informed program.

Which of the CREATE metrics will you impact?​

Employment in the tech industries

Income inequality

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

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