2022 Grants Challenge

Creating Economic Empowerment, Business Connections and Community for Foster Youth

Bridges to Economic Empowerment is a program that teach system impacted youth financial and business skills. The program will also create connections within the business community. The goal is to not only provide business knowledge but also give each participants a sense of belonging thru connection, letting each student know they are never alone.


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

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

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

Central LA

East LA

South LA

West LA

South Bay

Other:: Inglewood

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

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

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

There is an average of approximately 30,000 foster youth in LA County. Once a foster youth ages out of foster care, many face being alone, without connections or relationships. Connections and relationships are considered part of the main foundation needed for a successful start in life. Without this foundation, foster youth face homelessness (36%), incarceration (every 1 out 4), Highschool dropouts (56%) and unemployment (51%). Within the population of foster youth, 50% identify as females and 78% are of minority decent. They will also face underrepresentation of minority women in professional occupations. Currently Black women earn 64 cents on the dollar and Latina women earn approximately 54% on the dollar in comparison to men. There has been slight improvement in the last few years and there is still a way to go regarding income equality. We have the opportunity to equip foster youth with the resources to succeed in the business sector.

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

Foster youth are a forgotten segment of society when it comes to business development training. There are many programs that look to support foster youth learning basic life skills. Bridges to Economic Empowerment addresses an additional need: Business and Financial Literacy. Our program focuses on creating a business foundation that consists of a working knowledge of financial concepts, how to start their own business and connections within the business community. Bridges to Economic Empowerment provides a platform for long term relationships within the business realm. It teaches foundational financial knowledge and exercises to cement the knowledge within each student. Our program then provides access to leaders in the business community creating connection and support for each participant. Bridges to Economic Empowerment will consist of a twelve month series of monthly educational workshops on financial literacy and business planning. The program will provide workshops in the community to teach foundational financial knowledge with exercises to instill the knowledge of each participant. Participants will learn how to start a business by launching their own business. Bridges to Economic Empowerment address business knowledge, professional dress/attire, emotional intelligence, relationships, access to leaders in the business community to create connections and potential internships to support the entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial goals of each participant.

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

Los Angeles County will be different in that we will have created productive, contributing innovators into society. Businesses and jobs will be created increasing Los Angeles’ economic growth. We will have contributed to decreasing homelessness by equipping young people with critical thinking and how to make sound financial decisions. More young people will see business owners that look like them. This will encourage others to step out and go after their dream businesses or jobs. We can change the landscape of despair, to one of empowerment. People owning their power to create and grow. Whether it is opening a business or being an innovating employee, young people will know that they are valuable. Our vision is that Los Angeles will consist of young people who know that they matter and that they can create the difference. And they do!

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

There is a saying that success is determined not by the position one has reached in life, but the obstacles they have had to overcome while trying to succeed. Empowering today’s foster youth who have persevered through many of life’s challenges is to teach them that true success is just often found beyond temporary defeat of what many have already faced in life. We can measure success by how many have started their own businesses, were they able to obtain summer jobs that transitioned into full time employment, or did they obtain internships that connected them with lucrative offers and working and personal relationships to be successful in their future endeavors. A successful partnership with this grant will yield success rate of a minimum of 90% in the following areas: • Career planning and preparation • Social and business competence • Networking, building community • High School graduation

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

Direct Impact: 20

Indirect Impact: 300