2022 Grants Challenge

Uplifting youth and building community through storytelling and skill building.

For more than a decade, Boyle Heights Beat has provided training to local youth through its community journalism project. The project gives youth a unique sense of purpose in the community and provides a safe place to share ideas, learn new skills and connect with others. BHB provides youth the skills to uplift social and racial injustices in their neighborhoods through writing and storytelling, to learn and utilize marketable career skills and to also forge new relationships with community members, peers and professionals.


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

Community Safety

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

East LA

City of Los Angeles

Other:: Boyle Heights

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?

Mental health challenges among youth are on the rise, and widespread. It is more prominent in low income, Latino communities, and among immigrants. Youth, like those living in Boyle Heights, with multiple risk factors are all at higher risk of mental health challenges. In a recent advisory the Surgeon General found that 25% of youth are experiencing depressive symptoms, and 20% are experiencing anxiety. A sense of belonging and community is one solution professionals point to in helping to address the crisis facing youth. BHB provides a safe place for youth to learn about themselves and issues facing their community, while providing a much needed news outlet in the neighborhood. Our reporters aim to “change the narrative” of their community by showcasing its distinctive traditions, history of activism, music, food and vibrant culture. In doing so, they gain important insight, feel more confident about themselves and their community, and uplift issues to the community as a whole.

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

At BHB, youth reporters attain new skill sets which will benefit them in life and school. Boyle Heights Beat aims to uplift youth by giving them a sense of belonging and a voice in their community. The program creates a safe learning environment where students develop leadership skills and the confidence to bring to light racial and social inequities in the neighborhood in which they live. Our students gain important analytical, research, writing, interview, leadership, community, radio broadcast and technical skills while providing a voice to a vibrant immigrant community. Through icebreakers and games, students feel comfortable and build rapport among peers and adult mentors. During their time as youth reporters, they have the opportunity to publish professional material while being mentored by industry professionals. The program equips youth to go on to four-year colleges at a much higher rate than their peers. Radio Pulso and Boyle Heights Beat alumni are better prepared for the challenges of college and the workplace as these skills are a foundation for professional pathways. Many of our former reporters have been employed by BHB and continue to give back to their community. At BHB we value the work of our students and strive to provide them with professional training so they are better equipped to navigate their future careers. We also pride ourselves in offering job opportunities for youth after completing the program, or college.

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

The work of uplifting youth from marginalized communities and creating new career pathways and opportunities is aimed at righting the social inequities and injustices in low income communities of color. Through storytelling and community engagement, young people build relationships, take an interest and have a voice in their community. Through the exchange of ideas, residents can also help shape the narrative of community priorities, and ideas can be used to inform others and create meaningful content. With additional support from LA2050, we can continue to tell the important stories of the community and uplift those who don’t always have a voice. We can continue to give young people leadership opportunities, and allow them to envision a future for themselves they may have never imagined.

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

We survey youth using multiple evaluation tools and evaluate students at the beginning of the program, and then again upon completion. Our past surveys have shown ninety percent of respondents have said that their self-confidence improved and that their educational and career ambitions were heightened as a result of being in the program. In order to collect more quantitative data, this year we also implemented the Development Assets Profile (DAP) survey in order to measure social-emotional strengths and supports of young people and show their growth in these areas over time. One current reporter said, “I believe [BHB] is important for the community because it informs its community about recent events, anything that may be beneficial for others, opens opportunities for the community to speak out, and it's very informative with a lot of passion behind it."

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

Direct Impact: 75

Indirect Impact: 68,000