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2022 Grants Challenge

Arts Employment Opportunities for Youth

Youth across Los Angeles have a general lack of access to arts and professional arts careers because of financial barriers in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods. The Outkast Academy seeks to create more job opportunities within the arts to give youth who are passionate about dance and giving back to the community. By strengthening and expanding our current internship program, participating youth will be able to gain the proper and professional training to become Teaching Artists and lead classes at various partnering sites in Los Angeles.

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What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by Snap Foundation)

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

Central LA

South LA

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The arts is a large industry historically known to be primarily accessible to wealthier communities and individuals. As of today, public schools across Los Angeles have reduced arts education classes, experiences, and funding significantly, causing many youth to never experience the arts or discover the potential of pursuing a professional arts career. Numerous studies have shown the arts' impact to improve youth’s social and emotional skills, academic focus and drive, self-esteem, sense of worth, and ability to problem-solve. However, the very areas that lack the arts for youth are the ones directly suffering from drug abuse, violence, crime, poverty, homelessness and high dropout rates. We seek to address this issue to ultimately help youth discover their leadership, develop their creative abilities, and become creative innovators for the benefit of their communities that make up the entire city of Los Angeles.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The Outkast Academy, through its dance and mentorship program, has offered an internship opportunity for students who desire to further their careers and knowledge in the arts, specifically dance. This internship has given many students the opportunity to train with our team of professional artists to learn the ins and outs of teaching dance, choreographing work, helping youth build their creative abilities, and assisting in classes to work personally with students. The internship consists of a leadership curriculum that emphasizes the importance of work ethic, professionalism, communication, problem-solving, and adapting to a team. It also consists of rigorous physical training in order for interns to feel comfortable teaching dance, switching up teaching methods and strategies, and creating work that is both physically demanding yet meaningful. We take pride that this internship is available to students who participate in our programs, on-site and off-site at our partnering schools, and is completely free. Upon completing our internship and evaluations, they are offered an employment opportunity to work with our organization as Assistant Instructors to continue their training while receiving a paid position. Overall, our internship program is available for youth to help them decide whether the arts is what they desire to pursue professionally while allowing them to gain the skills necessary to succeed as teaching artists.

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

As more youth receive the opportunity to complete our internship program, it widens our ability to place more teaching artists at partnering schools to expand and establish arts education for youth during and after school. The Outkast Academy heavily believes in collaboration and since our founding, we have prioritized partnering with various grade schools across the city who lack arts education and funding for arts-based extracurricular activities. By hiring more teaching artists, we increase our organization’s margin to impact more schools and therefore, more students. Our vision is to play a small part in making the arts more accessible to youth who otherwise would not have the opportunity to. We believe this internship will create many more Los Angeles artists who seek to make our city a better place for all.

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 first measure the impact of our internship by taking into account how many students successfully complete the program. Our internship is very similar to what the position of a fully-hired Teaching Artist entails. Therefore, once our youth complete our internship and our team finishes up evaluations, we get a clear picture of whether or not this position is fit for them. As of 2022, 100% of our current Teaching Artists have all expressed that if it were not for participating in our programs and completing our internship, they would have pursued careers completely different from the arts. They have all expressed that this opportunity is indeed unique and cannot be found in proximity to the areas we are already serving. This has shown that we are surely making the arts more accessible and providing sustainable job opportunities.

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

Direct Impact: 7

Indirect Impact: 175