2022 Grants Challenge

Kids Got Moves!

We, the Movement Dance Foundation, are piloting the "Kids Got Moves!" Program in an effort to provide tuition-free dance education to 10% of the foster youth in care in Los Angeles county. We will recruit and train up to 25 local dancers who will be empowered to deliver a dance education curriculum in venues accessible to individuals under the age of 18 living in foster homes. In doing so, we will improve the well-being of youth in foster care and help them to live full, empowered lives.


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?

County of Los Angeles

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?

Studies supported by the American Dance Therapy Association identified dance as a mechanism for helping foster youth build healthy attachments, resolve trauma experience, and feel empowered despite the challenges they’ve faced. When we put this mechanism to an initial 6-month test in Miami, we saw participation from up to 50 youth per week from organizations like the Lotus House, the largest shelter for children in the United States. According to the Children’s Law Center of California, LA County has 33,000+ foster youth in care; meanwhile, only ~ 7,000 of them have direct access to resources like the Foster Youth Achievement Program (designed by LAUSD) that can effectively showcase the educational and therapeutic benefits of the arts – most specifically: dance. That means that in our post-COVID world, where it is imperative to reduce the lasting detrimental mental health effects of isolation, almost 80% of foster youth in LA County are left without access to this type of support.

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

The "Kids Got Moves!" Program democratizes the engaging resources for wellness and achievement, specifically in the arts, that may not be accessible to the 80% of foster youth in LA County not enrolled in LAUSD. We will provide tuition-free dance education to 3,750 foster youth– an initial estimated 10% of the total foster youth in care in LA County. We plan to recruit and train up to 25 local dancers, under the age of 25 and actively seeking employment, to teach dance in community venues, including youth shelters, that we make accessible weekly to individuals under the age of 18 living in foster homes. This initiative is a pilot program that we are conducting in LA County after testing our model that democratized dance education for up to 50 foster youth per week for 6 months in Miami. This 9-month program will take place between December 2022 and August 2023. Dancers will be recruited in October 2022 and will be professionally trained to engage with youth in November of 2022 with the arts educator coursework provided by our training partners like Dancewave.org. We have selected an initial group of dance studio partners to support our program including the West Coast Dance Theater, MovEssential Studio, and Art Box. Our unique program methodology draws on human ingenuity to empower and inspire underserved youth, especially those in foster care, to become the next generation of artists. In doing so, they also develop their own pathways to employment in LA's creative economy.

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

Our vision at the Movement Dance Foundation is a world united through dance. “The Kids Got Moves!” Program allows our team to engage with an underserved population that has the untapped potential to lead us there. By bringing tuition free dance education to up to 10% of the foster youth in LA County during this grant period, we will be able to accomplish the following objectives: 1) increase scholastic enrollment in arts programs among foster youth, (2) create positive multi-generational mentorship opportunities, (3) increase commitment to healthy lifestyles among foster youth in LA County, (4) decrease the idle time foster youth spend on the streets, (5) increase self-esteem among dance instructors and students alike, and (6) increase the earning potential for dancers in the creator economy. If our work is successful long-term, any young person living in Los Angeles County who has experienced hardship can still feel empowered to study and pursue a career in the arts.

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

While “Kids Got Moves!” is a pilot, we tested the model in Miami with the largest shelter for women and children in the US - the Lotus House. In 2021, provided 5K+ hours of tuition free education for youth and generated 750+ employment opportunities for Florida creatives. If we achieve similar success in LA County, we will increase commitments to healthy lifestyles among foster youth and increase self-esteem and earning potential among dance instructors and students alike. Our Program Manager Felicia Amon will conduct the program evaluation by using a stakeholder approach. We will design a pre-test and post-test for youth participants to: (1) calculate enrollment in scholastic arts programs, (2) measure the number of mentor connections, and (3) quantify sentiments about healthy lifestyles and self-esteem. Our class registration dashboard will measure student attendance and Felicia will conduct semi-annual interviews in a longevity study to measure increases in earning potential.

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

Direct Impact: 3,750

Indirect Impact: 25