2022 Grants Challenge

C11 Strength of Character Through Social Impact Program for Teens

C11 provides teens in high schools serving low-income communities with an opportunity to discover their character strengths, affirm their identities, develop leadership and teamwork experience through an entrepreneurial lens focused on social impact. The program provides teens with micro grants to execute their projects as well as mentors to support their academics and their college application process.


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

Youth Economic Advancement (sponsored by Funding Partner, TBA)

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

Central LA

East 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?

High school students, especially those in low-income communities, have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Those who will be entering high school in the next two years have also fallen behind in both their academics and normal social interactions that teens depend on for their emotional stability. At the same time, parents and guardians of these teens have been under significant pressure economically and emotionally, and many families have lost loved ones or their health has been adversely affected by the pandemic. In a recent survey we conducted with a random group of students at USC Hybrid High, 67% stated depression and/or anxiety as one of the biggest problems students face today and 50% stated time management as a significant challenge. Both of these issues lead to lack of motivation to pursue college. Since higher education is the key to financial stability, programs like C11 that elevate students' self-esteem are essential to their future success. The need is urgent.

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

Thrive in Joy offers C11 workshops and facilitated student-led Club Thrive in Joy after school programs for high schools. In 2023, we will be launching the C11 Journey Book as a preparatory tool for students’ college applications. Thrive in Joy provides a facilitator for each school to support student leaders in structuring their weekly meetings, planning their service projects, and incorporating Thrive in Joy’s C11 strength of character program into all aspects of the Club’s activities. Senior student leaders are offered internship opportunities with Thrive in Joy as social impact entrepreneurs. Club leaders are also given access to a private college counselor and we fund application fees to add colleges beyond the limited free package available to low-income students. Students are paired with a volunteer mentor to meet with via Zoom at their mutual convenience. The recurring theme in our program is “student-led.” The C11 facilitator supports student leaders in discovery of their own character strengths while leaders, in turn, inspire club members, and often engage the entire student body in their social impact initiatives. Club members get to lead C11 workshops for other student groups including athletes. The 1-2 hour workshops emphasize the importance of authentic relationships and the positive outcomes that result when a team works together through mutual understanding of each other’s common as well as unique character traits and what brings meaning to their lives.

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

We just completed our first full year of in-person clubs at USC Hybrid and Esperanza. In June 2022 we conducted a survey to assess the overall impact of the club during this pivotal year of returning to the classroom post-pandemic. When asked to provide a word that best describes the club student responses included, “ Awesome, Inspiring, Creative, Supportive, Unique, Helpful, Joyful, Caring, and Rejuvenating.” 95% of respondents said they frequently or sometimes feel that being aware of their character strengths will help their success as a student. One student summarized her connection with Club Thrive in Joy as follows, “I have become much more bold and outspoken about issues that I care deeply about. Last year, I was extremely insecure, depressed, and anxious, and this year I have become a completely different person. I am so grateful to the C11 program for what you have taught me!” These are the developments we expect to see in more students if our program can be in more schools.

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 launched the program in partnership with the LA region of Multiplying Good Students in Action (SIA). Among six different sessions, students rated C11 the highest on a 1-10 scale. 96% said they gained an understanding of character and 92% said they knew which character trait they wanted to grow. 88% said they had an idea of the character traits that they would grow through their service projects. These are the seeds of entrepreneurialism that C11 cultivates. An example of the impact are these student's words, “My favorite part was Thrive in Joy. Seeing Nick’s parents still working to maintain his legacy is really inspiring. I see them changing lives through his story, and it truly makes me want too (sic) as well.” 402 teens participated in SIA C11 workshops over the three-year period of 2018-2021. The cumulative effect was evident in the data showing 91% of students understood what character means and 74% knew more about their character traits than before the workshop.

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

Direct Impact: 1,654

Indirect Impact: 2,698