2022 Grants Challenge

Heroes & Hope - A Celebration of Diversity

Idea by RIVER LA

We are building a library of short films (3-5 minutes) that tell the stories of LA's immigrant and refugee population. One film representing someone from each country worldwide. The films will observe the rich cultural heritage of the subjects’ home country, while breaking down barriers & reframing the conversation around immigrant and refugee contributions to Los Angeles. We will build an understanding of how our differences create irreplaceable and positive richness through our urban landscape and enrich and enhance all of our lives daily.


Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

Kevin Ford, Filmmaker, Team Downey Josh Oreck, Narrator

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

Immigrant and Refugee Support

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

County of Los Angeles

Other:: This project will include 195 short films and shoot in every part of Los Angeles City & Country

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?

Our country has become exceedingly divided, with enormous racial violence targeting immigrants and refugee communities. Our goal is to use film and storytelling to reframe that conversation by celebrating the positive impact these individuals have on Los Angeles. Storytelling is a powerful tool for change and we believe that by expressly showing the enormous economic and cultural contribution immigrants and refugees make, we will give our audience insight into worlds and viewpoints they have not explored.In addition to cultural contributions, immigrants hold $70.7 billion in yearly spending power in LA County and $28.8 billion in City of LA. Immigration and refugees are at the heart of L.A.’s story, history and success. People from around the world are a driving force in both our cultural and the economic resurgence that has seen us create 146,000 new jobs and register 170,000 businesses over the last three years alone. Travel though LA and if you pay attention you can see the world.

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

There is no better timing for this project. It supports the long-overdue reckoning of the treatment of people of color and varying religious beliefs in this country and LA County’s push towards anti-racism and diversity work. It weaves threads of the human experience to foster tolerance and understanding that can help repair the divisiveness that is so prevalent in our society and will open positive doors to expression and conversation. Heroes & Hope films will give voice to our diverse immigrant citizens and their remarkable contributions to Los Angeles' history, present and future. Each film will observe the unique and individual rich cultural heritage of the subjects’ home country – the food, music, religion, architecture and traditions — breaking down misconceptions and personalizing the impact of these individuals and their communities. We will build an understanding of how our differences create irreplaceable and positive richness throughout our urban landscape. Los Angeles is a mosaic of nations that have molded, enriched and enhanced all of our lives. The films will also give every child in school a hero that reflects them, serving both as a history lesson to the world and a spotlight on the positive diversity and uniqueness all around. With Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Olympics, the project cannot be more relevant and welcoming to all who visit.

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

Even a diverse, progressive-leaning County like Los Angeles is barraged by negative narratives about immigrants, and racially motivated crimes have grown annually. Within a matter of a single block, the socioeconomic and cultural makeup of neighborhoods change drastically and stark inequities exist. Immigration the heart of L.A.’s story, and Heroes & Hope will show the personal and emotional side to what we see and feel in our city every day. It will inspire residents and visitors alike to rejoice in our shared humanity and serve as a powerful tool to dispel stereotypes and promote civic pride. This unique project can showcase LA County as a beacon of tolerance and perhaps serve as a model for other municipalities to similarly celebrate the contributions immigrants have made to their city. L.A. became one of the world’s great cities by embracing immigration and diversity and these films will celebrate and share that reality.

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

Our success will be measured by the number of people we reach and the impact that these films can have. The CEO of River LA is known for building social campaigns. Her past programs have reached over 3 billion people worldwide. The intent with this project is to create mass market exposure and create forums, activities, concerts and other large partnerships where the films can be shown to reach a large sampling of the communities that each of our Heroes represents. This stage of the project (the short teaser reel) will be used as a critical proof-of-concept for raising the additional $3M needed for the full library of films and for starting to build the critical corporate partners that will support the outreach. Upon request, we can send a full list of 40+ corporate partners that have supported past projects by our team leaders.

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

Direct Impact: 10,000,000

Indirect Impact: 50,000,000

Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.

River LA will be overseeing the project and doing the research to identify the candidates to profile from each country. River LA's team will also be handing partnerships and distribution of the films as well as PR and Media outreach. Kevin Ford will be writing directing all of the episodes and interviewing the selected candidates. Josh Oreck/rrator will be onsite producers and editing the films