2021 Grants Challenge

LA Podcast: Key to the City

The LA Podcast crew is teaming up with local journalists and organizers to bring accountability and transparency to City Hall. We’re launching a new website to track and publicize key pieces of legislation in City Council *before* they become policy — while they’re still in committee and you can weigh in. And we’re producing a companion podcast to make City Hall more accessible, reveal the impact of local policies on everyday Angelenos and our most vulnerable neighbors, and give you the tools you need to get involved and make a difference.


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

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

What happens inside City Hall has an enormous impact on our daily lives — and right now, local government is not working for most Angelenos. LA has more people living on our streets than any other city in the country, and is one of the least affordable places for housing anywhere in the world. We have some of the highest rates of poverty and income inequality, the worst air quality, and the deadliest streets. Underlying these larger problems is the fact that City Hall feels totally inaccessible to the average Angeleno. This is especially true of City Council’s 13 committees, which is where the most important policies are made. As a result, most of us are stuck reacting to policies after it’s too late to change them — if we hear about them at all. The inaccessibility of City Hall makes our problems feel insurmountable, but that’s only because most Angelenos don’t understand how local government and policymaking works, and what they can do to help make LA a better place for everyone.

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

Our project has two main components: (1) A new website and newsletter to track and publicize key pieces of local legislation from inception through the time they become policy; and (2) a podcast miniseries explaining how City Hall works, the impact of policies on people on the ground, and how you can get involved and make a difference. For our legislation tracking website and newsletter, which we’re calling “LA on Deck,” we’ll spotlight priority pieces of legislation that will have the biggest impact on people’s ability to live, work, and thrive. We’ll track these bills through City Council’s committees — little known entities that provide the most important opportunities for public input. In clear and interesting ways, we’ll cover what bills are important, how the proposed policies will impact people’s lives, where they’re at in the process of becoming law, and when there are opportunities for you to weigh in. Our companion podcast miniseries, “Key to the City,” will offer a unique combination of on-the-ground reporting and in-depth policy analysis. We’ll employ local journalists to do interviews and reporting, and work with our friends at LA Forward to demystify the ways that policy and local politics have created our current crises. Every episode will include specific actions that listeners can take to make a difference in their communities and ensure LA becomes a place that we are all proud to call home.

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: 50,000

Indirect Impact: 500,000

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

Our ultimate goals are to make City Hall more accessible and give Angelenos a greater voice in the systems and policies that shape our lives. In the short term, we hope this project will lead to: - Greater awareness of and participation in the workings of City Council and its committees. - More Angelenos of all backgrounds participating in neighborhood councils, mutual aid groups, and other community-based volunteering initiatives. Long term, we believe that a more engaged and knowledgeable population can better push for policies that meaningfully improve life for Angelenos. Long term goals include: - Bigger, bolder, and more effective policy solutions to address our most urgent crises — developed from the ground-up with extensive community input. - More people running for office and other positions of power in their own communities. - More representative government better in tune with the needs of people on the ground, especially those who are struggling under the status quo.

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

The LA Podcast and LA Forward teams have a proven track record of reaching and educating tens of thousands of Angelenos on local civic issues. LA Podcast has produced nearly 170 episodes and averages 10,000 weekly listeners, LA Forward has dozens of volunteer organizers who’ve helped run 100+ civic education workshops and events over the past year, and both groups produce voter guides to local elections that have been read and shared hundreds of thousands of times. We will measure the success of our new joint initiative by a number of metrics, including: - How many people use, share, and act on the legislative information on LA on Deck. - How many people listen to the podcast and engage with our social media content and calls to action. It’s important to us that those engaging with this project mirror LA’s amazing diversity, and we will work with our partners to make sure all of our content reaches and resonates with communities across LA.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

The LA Podcast team will: - Identify and hire 2–4 reporters on the ground that can reach communities across LA, with at least 1–2 being fluent in Spanish. - Produce the Key to the City podcast. - Advise on design, outreach, and social media strategy for LA on Deck. - Connect with local entertainers and influencers to promote the podcast and tracking platform, and leverage our combined 100,000 followers on social to engage with and share the projects. The LA Forward team will: - Hire and manage the research and writing teams for LA on Deck. - Connect with local organizers, coalitions, and community-based nonprofits to establish partnerships and for input and feedback on both LA on Deck and the podcast. - Advise as subject-matter experts on the podcast mini-series.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will you impact?​

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs


Voting rates

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE