2021 Grants Challenge

OLASTEO Virtual Experience Program


Our carefully curated virtual experiences expose students to a world beyond their local communities which motivates them to learn and understand through lived experiences. OLASTEO scholars hear from and engage with speakers and educators who they did not have prior exposure to. Students receive goods and products from BIPOC-owned local businesses where possible. And, true to OLASTEO’s nature, our scholars enjoy meals and snacks representing a variety of cultural heritages and dietary options.


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

Central LA

East LA

San Fernando Valley

South LA

Antelope Valley

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

In the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, less than half of adult residents have a high school diploma and only 4% hold a bachelor’s degree. Even while crime rates lower and civic and community engagement rises, the city’s predominantly Latinx and Black youth are not receiving the opportunities they deserve to graduate from high school and enter college. OLASTEO works to close this gap by providing innovative experiential programming and opportunities for students in high school and college at critical turning points in their lives. OLASTEO is currently expanding its reach beyond Watts, and in 2021 will be serving students in the following Los Angeles County communities: Watts, Compton, Arroyo Seco-Boyle Heights, Southeast Los Angeles, Palmdale, Lancaster, Florence-Graham, Huntington Park, Lynwood, View Park-Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, Baldwin Hills, Firestone Park, Leimert Park, and Highland Park.

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

COVID-19 forced us to pivot from physical excursions to virtual programming in order to continue providing enriching journeys for our student community, who have felt the pandemic’s impact much more severely than most. Our virtual experiences bring the key components of our in-person excursions into the online world and can be attended safely from our scholars’ homes. Each virtual experience includes an educational workshop, at least two interactive speaker sessions, a welcome package, a foodie experience delivered to our students each day, and a completion appreciation gift at the program’s culmination. The requested funds will be used in support of OLASTEO’s Virtual Experience programming. Each experience will target serving up to 50 students per event. For a modest per-student dollar amount, we are able to educate students, expose minds, and expand mindsets in a boutique and impactful manner. All LA2050 funds will be used to support the programming, including the curated meals and snacks, the welcome and completion appreciation gifts which include goods and products related to our speaker line-up, and to pay honorariums for speakers and education sessions. Please view our 2020 Summer Virtual Experience Impact Report (https://bit.ly/3fzHgpq), which highlights our first-ever Virtual Experience. If the state of the COVID-19 pandemic improves and when in-person gatherings are safe, OLASTEO will pivot back to our in-person Excursions.

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: 250

Indirect Impact: 1,250

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

OLASTEO serves as an innovative experiential learning program for students in underserved communities throughout LA County. We expose students to the stories and lived experiences of others so that they can be inspired, educated, and empowered to think and dream of limitless possibilities for their own futures. By supporting a deeper understanding of each other’s differences, we allow students to embrace the diversity of the global community that exists within Los Angeles County. OLASTEO scholars are accepting of the salad bowl they live in and equipped with the knowledge to educate their families, friends, and classmates on the stories and experiences of others. Please hear from our scholars Yuli (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdcoxB70rlM) and Amsi (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16KfyGM7FaY) as they truly tell it best.

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

High School Graduation: We believe our organization further enriches the lives of our students and motivates them to succeed. We track high school graduation rates for all of our students. (98% of eligible high school graduates have graduated from high school to date) College or Trade School Matriculation: We believe our organization further enriches the lives of our students and motivates them to succeed. We track college and trade school matriculation and graduation rates for all of our students. (Too early to report) Participation Rate: We will track the number of student participants in each Virtual Experience event. We strive to increase the number of students participating as we hold more events. (New) Repeat Participation Rate: We will track the number of repeat student participants across Virtual Experience events. (New) # of Partner Organizations Represented: We will track the number of partner organizations that are represented by our student participants. (New)

Which of the LEARN metrics will you impact?​

Social and emotional support


Immigrant integration

College graduates

College matriculation

High school graduation rates

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to CONNECT