2021 Grants Challenge

Youth Artificial Intelligence Program

Idea by Project Joy

We are bridging the skills gap to new collar technology careers for opportunity youth in LA County. Using interactive play-based learning projects, youth build their digital and artificial intelligence literacy, discover emerging careers and become certified in the top ten 21st Century soft skills. Youth develop an AI Pitch for their community as a final project. This is where a community improvement idea is showcased, including the potential uses of artificial intelligence. This information sharing increases the community's awareness of AI.


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

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

We are addressing income inequality and our program will help decrease the GINI index from .50 to .35 by 2050. We will help reach the goal of 10% employment in tech jobs by 2050 and decrease the November 2020 unemployment rate of 10.6% to under 4% by 2050. Our program prepares opportunity youth for emerging new collar technology careers, which pay life sustaining wages. Research shows there is a major skill gap in the technology industry, which cannot be closed at the pace youth are graduating from college. IBM CEO created the term “new collar” jobs, which shifts the hiring paradigm from relying on resumes and experience to looking at potential and soft skills. Education for new collar jobs is in the form of industry level certifications and badges, which per research closes the income inequality gap. The unemployment rate will decrease as new collar jobs are entry level, include paid apprenticeships, free training and span across industries outside of technology. The demand is high.

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

The Youth AI Learning Program is currently a one year pilot, funded by LA County Department of Mental Health, Transforming LA grant, and ends Dec 2021. We train 5 opportunity youth per cohort (total of 25 youth per year) using an innovative and immersive enhanced earn and learn opportunity. Each cohort is 6 weeks however we will extend to 8 weeks under LA2050 based on feedback. The youth receive certification in the top 21st Century employment soft skills, artificial intelligence literacy play based modules, socio-emotional intelligence and mental health techniques and resources. We have guest speakers who didn't follow a traditional pathway into a tech career. The students practice all skills hands-on thru projects and culminates with an AI Pitch presented to the community. The pitch is their idea on a way to improve the community or social cause and explores the potential use of artificial intelligence. Our students are eager learners ranging from first generation college students to GED/HiSet holders. 75% have never participated in a summer or STEM camp. The program is run virtually during COVID19 and we bridge the digital divide by providing donated laptops and/or hotspots based on need. We currently are restricted to youth in Supervisor District 5 with a preference for Antelope Valley SPA-1. Under LA2050 we propose to include youth, LA County wide, as there is growing demand for our program. For in person learning, when permitted, our office is in the Antelope Valley.

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: 30

Indirect Impact: 600

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

With our work being successful, LA County will truly reflect a place where everyone can obtain the education, skills training, social support, mental health resources and industry support to obtain life sustaining wages and entrance into new and emerging careers. We believe our focus on new collar technology jobs which have a high demand, low supply of workers, high wages and non traditional access points is viable. Opportunity youth we work with are very interested in technology and embrace our play based learning model and work based learning projects. We are unique in offering work based learning in a trauma informed, client centered environment for the past three years as an iFoster TAY AmeriCorps host site. Opportunity youth are our core and empowered to learn, explore, make mistakes and discover solutions as we grow and learn together. Our youth quickly realize their potential and our projects guide them to become engaged in the community using their strongest skills.

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

This is an existing one year pilot due to end December 2021. Impact is measured by students completing pre and post surveys measuring the increase in literacy regarding artificial intelligence, career options and job preparation, soft skills and mental health status. We also receive career speaker evaluation forms. The students also keep a daily journal as a self reflection and professional goal setting tool as they progress through the course. Students complete a pre and post video journal to measure how the program met their self identified and desired goals. DMH BUPPS (mental health assessment) survey three times (pre, post and 3 months after program completion) to measure the sustained impact of the program. Critical thinking, presentation, leadership and collaboration skills are measured through completion of training modules and work projects. Our goal is for the students to increase in self sufficiency, confidence and vocational clarity to pursue education and employment.

Which of the CREATE metrics will you impact?​

Employment in the tech industries

Income inequality

Unemployment rate

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE