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2022 Grants Challenge

BIWOC+ Equity in Art and Wellness

Idea by Sovern LA

We resource, support, and provide a platform for BIWOC+ wellness and creative entrepreneurs to launch sustainable careers, while fostering a sense of belonging, inclusion, and safety for the BIWOC+ community we serve. This grant will fund the expansion of our center's offerings all of which support working class women+ of color to fight burnout and focus on their self-care and mental health, while providing a platform for economic advancement for the BIWOC+ artists, makers, and wellness practitioners building careers in our center.

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

BIPOC- and Women-Owned Businesses

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

Central LA

East LA

South LA

West LA

City of Los Angeles

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?

Systemic inequity makes entrepreneurship in wellness and art largely inaccessible for Black and Indigenous women+ of color. These industries are overwhelmingly white, largely because they are difficult to break into without a safety net, especially in a city like LA with soaring costs of living. Wellness and creative entrepreneurship requires paying for education/trainings, start up capital, dedicating time and resources into developing skills and a brand, developing financial and business skills, and the ability to wait out the time it takes to build a steady clientele and/or a successful revenue model. On the clientele side, even if folks can afford wellness offerings in places like yoga studios or holistic healing centers, with few BIWOC+ leading classes and offering services like psychotherapy and massage therapy, it is difficult for BIWOC+ to find a sense of belonging, safety, and community - keeping the pursuit of self care in LA not only expensive but exclusive and out of reach.

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

This grant will allow us to expand our programs to better resource our BIWOC+ entrepreneurs, hand in hand scaling our community impact and cultivation of safe space. We will expand resources provided to the creative and wellness practitioners leading our offerings. While folks come to us with the skillsets within their modality/craft that they need to offer services at our center, we eliminate other barriers to success by providing mentorship, promotion, a physical space and online platform, an audience, a support network, and a fair and reliable wage for services provided. This grant will ensure that our class and workshop leaders can be paid well while continuing to ensure inclusivity and accessibility. All group programming is fully donation based - folks can sign up for as little as $1. This grant will also support the wellness practitioners who are building private practices in talk therapy, massage therapy, and more at our center. We support these practitioners with the same resources listed above. They manage their own businesses with our support and rent workspace at Sovern hourly at affordable, below market rates. This grant will allow us to start a treasury so that these services can also be offered on a sliding scale (treasury will pay practitioners the difference so that they are paid their full rates), making mental and preventative health services accessible to folks who otherwise couldn't afford them, while providing more weekly revenue to our entrepreneurs.

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

Black and Indigenous women+ of color across Los Angeles seeking creativity, community, and healing will know they can rely on us for a safe space to be seen, heard, and nourished. The entrepreneurs supported through this grant cycle will be well on their way to establishing sustainable careers for themselves, paving the way for more like them to be inspired to pursue their passions and serve others. The expansion of our marketing efforts will ensure more BIWOC+ in LA find out about our center and about the entrepreneurs we support, and become a part of our community. Our West Adams location is centrally located in the city, easily accessible by public transport, so that BIWOC+ in Los Angeles who seek community and growth can come rest, receive, and find peace on a regular basis. Our vision is that the healing and empowerment experienced at Sovern will ripple through individuals lives, resulting in healthier humans with stronger professional and economic opportunities.

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 are explicitly anti-racist and abide by radical community guidelines to hold an inclusive, majority POC space with culturally relevant, BIWOC+ led programming. It is vital for us that we track our impact and ensure that we are serving our intended demographic. We track where our community members who attend our services live and how they identify. Over 90% of our programming participants identify as BIPOC and our data shows that we are serving our immediate surrounding community of West Adams as well as surrounding communities with similar demographics. The medium income in West Adams is $38,000, and its population is 56% Latino and 38% Black. Our best evidence of success however is from community feedback (more compiled in the video submitted with application): "Now that I am here it brings me to tears. There are not a lot of spaces in LA that are accessible and where I can come for healing and be surrounded by people who look like me." "Sovern is an answer to my prayers."

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

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 2,000