2021 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

The Foto Forum: A Creative Advocacy Space for Teen Girls

Our vision is to provide a new platform for young women who are using their photography as a means to advocate for their communities. Turning the outdoor space of our new gallery into an outdoor exhibition space where young women can display their photo essays that highlight injustices found throughout their communities will also provide the community a safe forum to use these images as a catalyst for dialogue and advocacy for issues from housing to food insecurity and economic equity.


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

Central LA

East LA

South LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Los Angeles County BIPOC residents have been historically marginalized by institutions and systems. Adverse effects of this systematic disempowerment may include health disparities, stigma, limited resources for wellbeing, and limited outlets for youth-centered leadership. These disparities have been further exposed by the toll the pandemic has taken in these communities and the subsequent inaccessibility to the vaccine as it became available. In contributing to the transformation of what is deemed as equitable and inclusive, greater steps need to be taken to ensure that institutions and those in office are implementing such a change. By adapting an evidence-informed public health promotora (advocacy) model, credible youth leaders who participate in the Las Fotos Project Digital Promotora program, and who are trusted by the community can create innovative partnerships to gather and share stories, dismantle stigma, challenge misinformation, and share resources.

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

Since our founding in 2010, the organization has not only helped empower young girls through photography, but has given them the opportunity to explore a potential career path and as a tool for self-expression and exploration. To help further our mission, we have begun to establish a studio space for young creative entrepreneurs, which will act as an incubator for their own small businesses and launch pad for their future careers. This process, coupled with the impact of COVID19 on our communities, has surfaced the need to provide a similar space for young creative advocates. Our new studio location also has the capacity to create an outdoor exhibition & community space which would allow for community members to safely gather and host intentional exchange ideas. Our project, The Foto Forum: A Creative Advocacy Space for Teen Girls, will build on our existing Digital Promotoras program which works with youth leaders to use social media, photojournalism, and multimedia to promote awareness of social inequities facing their community. Their projects serve as first-person digital narratives that inform audiences of available health resources and the actions being taken to create healthier neighborhoods, families, and communities. The Foto Forum will amplify our students’ voices and their calls to action by actively engaging community members in solutions-based dialogue, an opportunity that is rarely experienced in traditional gallery spaces.

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: 150

Indirect Impact: 2,000

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

Work that our students complete through our Digital Promotoras, photojournalism classes highlight communities and social injustices that are embedded in their daily lives. Given the equipment & resources to participate, our students go on a semester-long journey that invites them to delve deeper into their communities and examine inequalities that have been embedded in their own neighborhoods. Through our proposed project, teenage girls in the Los Angeles community will have the space to have their voices amplified as they identify challenges within their communities and the proposed steps that their communities can take to come together and enact change. With youth highlighting their communities and placing issues important to them at the center of their photography, residents & communities throughout Los Angeles will have their stories told, all the while having a space where they can come together, connect with other community members and build dialogue & action through photography.

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 organization’s mission of empowering young girls from communities of color is rooted in our three core programs: Esta Soy Yo, Digital Promotoras, and Creative Entrepreneurship Opportunities. The Digital Promotoras program, started in 2014 is modeled after the culturally and linguistically competent community-based health education “promotora” model with an infusion of artistic expression through participatory photography and digital media storytelling. For the past 7 years, we have successfully adapted a proven model for improving health outcomes in multicultural communities and repurposed it to document social issues through creative expression. Our previous project, a ‘Girl-Powered Foto Studio by Las Fotos Project’ centered on providing students with resources to advance their creative careers. While building out the studio, we saw the opportunity to provide a physical community creative & advocacy space, flexible enough to adapt to ever-changing COVID19 protocols.

Which of the CREATE metrics will you impact?​

Arts establishments, instillations, and exhibitions

Employment in the creative industries

Income inequality

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

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