2022 Grants Challenge

Project Avanza

Idea by LA CAUSA

LA CAUSA through its AVANZA program will: support the development and educational needs of at least 75 youth and young adults ages 16 – 30 (including system-impacted youth). With an emphasis on transformative justice to heal from violence and to prevent future violence; the program will provide participants (1) College and career counseling, job placement, paid internships; (2) Occupational training opportunities; (3) Supportive Services (4) High School Diploma and 5) Leadership and Life skills.


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?

East 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?

Too few Latinx students are graduating from high school prepared for college. Traditional high school systems leave behind students that need support. More than half of California’s Latinx high school graduates are not eligible for admission to the state’s public four-year university systems because they were not offered or supported to complete the A-G courses required (2021 State of Higher Education for Latinx Californians). An equal number of students face a variety of barriers, which have forced them out of traditional educational spaces and often leads to drug use and gang involvement for a lot of the youth in the target area; and as a result involvement in the criminal justice system. The program will recruit youth from the greater East Los Angeles area because of their historically distressed conditions, history of involvement with the juvenile justice system, high rates of arrest, high poverty rate, high rates of housing unstable youth and high dropout rates.

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

LA CAUSA YB is designed to serve under credit students, assess their needs and provide access to services they need to ensure retention for successful completion of the program. The program will provide wrap-around services they need to earn a high school diploma and enter the workforce and/or higher education to prevent involvement in the criminal justice system. Through its partnership with YouthBuild Charter School of California (YCSC), participants will receive High School preparation courses, life skills/career readiness courses, one-on-one counseling, support groups, mentorship, leadership, and community action service.With this grant, LA CAUSA will be able to expand its program by providing exposure to post-secondary education opportunities and enrichment wrap-around activities to support its programming. During their enrollment they will have access to Occupational skills training programs designed to prepare them for the workforce based on their area of interest: LatinX in Sales 16-hr Training Curriculum: upon completion participants will have access to jobs with PepsiCO or Frito Lay Culinary Arts: hands on experience for the students that want to become entrepreneur caterers and/or enter the food industry. CAMT- Building Maintenance Program: 6- weeks classroom and credential in property maintenance & construction. Dual enrollment with East LA College: on-site while completing high school credits.

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

Through this project, 75 at-promised youth will transform into agents of change to improve themselves and their communities. LA CAUSA will successfully reduce drop-out rate, recidivism rate and poverty rate, while addressing mental health needs. 90% of the senior level participants will graduate with a high school diploma and successfully transition into the workforce, paid internship opportunities, and/or higher education. The program gives students safer outlets as alternatives to getting into trouble. LA CAUSA organizes field trips that expose participants to civic engagement and diversity/cultural activities which empowers involvement in causes that directly impacts them, their families, and their communities. more about their communities and encourages them to become involved in the causes that matter to them. The project will also contribute to reduced recidivism rates; in the last 3 years only 5% of graduates have returned to prison.

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

LA CAUSA has implemented its Project Avanza since 2009. LA CAUSA’s goal is for 90%+ of the at-promise youth we serve to earn their high school diploma and transition into the workforce and/or post-secondary education. During the program year 2021-2022 school year 82% of its senior level students will be earning their high school diploma. In addition to High School diploma attainment, our program measures success through the implementation of a Senior Portfolio that includes; FAFSA and college application, job or paid internship applications/job placements, voting registration, driver’s license, resume and cover letter, occupational certificate, and a 5-year career plan. The plan serves as a mapping plan to a post-secondary education, paid internship opportunities, and/or the workforce upon completion of the program. Furthermore, as an affiliate of YouthBuild USA, student data and outcomes are recorded on a national database system (DYB).

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

Direct Impact: 75

Indirect Impact: 300