2022 Grants Challenge

Dance Dreams

Fostering Dreams Project will provide free, high quality dance and music therapy programs to youth in foster care in Los Angeles Unified School District. Our programs are designed to improve students' social-emotional learning, and overall well-being with instructional classes and performance.


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?

San Fernando Valley

Antelope Valley

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?

Fostering Dreams students have limited access to the performing arts and a safe place to express themselves due to being in the foster care system. Additionally, the majority of these youth come from low-income backgrounds and BIPOC communities and historically have inequality in access to arts programs. Our program has been created to support these youth by giving them a special place to go each week providing stability and support. With teen suicide rates on the rise by 30% and over 50% of foster youth becoming homeless, incarcerated, or victims of sex trafficking, the primary effect of these situations is mental health issues and PTSD making it extremely difficult for children to succeed. Our goal is to help our young people find their voice and use dance as a healing tool to be fully self-expressed and motivated in life. Our program offers a pathway to improve grades, behavior, social-emotional learning, and a greater sense of belonging.

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

The program will take place at 7 school sites in LAUSD with high foster youth populations. The program includes dance instruction, music therapy workshops, guest speakers, and video presentations. Youth will engage in learning about dance history, the cultural foundation of global dance initiatives, choreography, videography, and the science of movement and nutrition. Specifically, youth will: - Be introduced to a variety of dance styles and history, focusing on hip hop dance, - Engage in dance-based methods and learn choreography - Learn to pay attention to one’s own needs and garner the feelings of self and emotional control. - learning choreography and create their own performance piece- exercising and expanding their personal choice and collaboration. - While most of our youth frequently receive secondhand clothes/equipment and personal choice is stripped away, they’ll design and select new outfits valued at $50 - Participate in a music-video-style shoot, filmed by a professional videographer to spotlight their accomplishment and offers a boost of confidence and self-esteem. - participate in music/sound therapy workshops to reduce stress and anxiety, help youth process emotions and calm the nervous system and will incorporate improvisational movement while the musician plays live.

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

The success of our work will greatly impact Los Angeles County by giving youth the tools necessary to thrive in school and in life. The types of outcomes that we've seen in our programs have a ripple effect in the communities our youth live in. Students become better at problem-solving, working as a team, and have enriched creativity with better focus in school. Being in our program gives youth a chance to be a part of something bigger in an uplifting environment with a place to belong. They get to be the example for their peers and others who have behavioral issues and resort to the "street life" and show them what's possible when they have a healthy outlet to express themselves. We evaluate our work with start and end surveys, journal evaluations, interviews and direct feedback from school staff and teachers. After one of our programs a student mentioned “I found strength in myself I didn’t know I had. You gave me my life back.” -Vince, PUSD student.

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

FDP will evaluate students’ progress toward the program goals and objectives. This will be monitored in multiple ways at different points in the duration of the program: Journal Evaluation: will gather students’ journaling exercises and use qualitative evaluation measures to assess student progress in soft skill competencies, such as self-expression through writing, self-confidence, and emotional wellbeing. Start and End Surveys: will administer two surveys to participants – one before the start of instruction and one at the end of instruction. The surveys will use quantitative and qualitative measures to assess student competency in the goals and objectives, before and after the program. Focus Group and Individual Interviews: we will facilitate a focus group to assess students’ satisfaction with the program and gain targeted feedback for the program’s continued development. We will interview school staff to evaluate their overall satisfaction and alignment with their district needs.

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

Direct Impact: 140

Indirect Impact: 2,500