2022 Grants Challenge

Youth Ambassadors for Queer History

ONE Archives Foundation mentors a group of 12 - 24 high school students (from 200+ applications) from Los Angeles County to become ambassadors for LGBTQ+ history in their communities and schools. The program includes LGBTQ+ history presentations by community organizers, discussions on LGBTQ+ topics, research and workshops, field trips to LGBTQ+ organizations and landmarks, and the creation of an exhibition. A cohort of Youth Ambassadors participate in Youspeak Radio, an audio project exploring intergenerational dialogues led by LGBTQ+ youth.


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

K-12 STEAM Education

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

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

South Bay

Antelope Valley

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

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?

As an organization centered on sustaining history, LGBTQ+ youth is a core audience for the ONE Archives Foundation. LGBTQ+ youth are one of, if not the highest, at-risk groups for suicide across the country. A 2019 The Trevor Project report found that over 45% of LGBTQ youth aged 13 - 18 had seriously considered suicide in the past twelve months, a rate four times that of their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Youth mentoring programs are an important strategy for supporting and addressing the challenges that at-risk youth experience. A meta-analysis of evaluations of more than 73 independent mentoring programs found positive effects on the youths’ social, behavioral, emotional, and academic development, while non-mentored youth showed declines in some of the same areas. The Youth Ambassadors for Queer History program provides youth mentorship, leadership training, as well as opportunities for peer-to-peer mentorship to support at-risk LGBTQ+ youth.

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

Recognizing the benefits and needs for LGBTQ youth mentorship programs and a lack of LGBTQ inclusive curriculum in education, the ONE Archives Foundation launched its Education programs in 2017, including Youth Ambassadors for Queer History Program and Youspeak Radio. The Youth Ambassadors program provides direct services and focused experiences for high school students, ages 13-18, nominated by educators who oversee Genders and Sexualities Alliance clubs across Los Angeles. Providing skills, information, and the confidence to achieve, the program trains students to serve as Youth Ambassadors for LGBTQ history at their schools and offers LGBTQ+ cultural enrichment activities to their peers. Youspeak Radio is an extension project of the Youth Ambassadors program. It is sound-based exploration of intergenerational dialogs led by LGBTQ youth. As most youth do not share LGBTQ+ experiences with their family members, combatting teen suicide is the work of a whole community, across generations and in daily life including home, school, and extracurricular activities. Students acquire skills including storytelling, interview techniques, and technical experience with audio recording and production. With guidance from staff and podcast professionals, each participant generates one story recording. We aim to produce 10 - 12 recordings annually. Launched in 2021, the Youspeak cohort included youth from across the country. For this grant, all youth will be within Los Angeles County.

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

Youth are from diverse communities across Los Angeles, including Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock, Santa Clarita, Van Nuys, and West Adams. All students identify as LGBTQ+. According to a 2017 survey by the Williams Institute, 10.3% of California’s public middle and high school students identify as LGBTQ+. They are more likely to report a negative and unsafe school environments compared to their cisgender and heterosexual peers. They also report more school absences, lower average grades, and higher levels of harassment and abuse compared to their non-LGBTQ+ peers. The Youth Ambassadors program is an anecdote to the challenges LGBTQ+ youth experience. It supports LGBTQ+ students and provides an opportunity for youth to learn about and share their history. Creating leadership opportunities, they present their research in exhibitions at ONE Gallery, to their peers, and at school presentations. Youspeak Radio shares the history of LGBTQ+ trailblazers who have made an impact in Los Angeles.

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 measure success through the number of intersectional programmatic activities, as well as the number of students served and reached. At the end of the program, Youth Ambassadors are asked to complete an anonymous online evaluation. ONE Archives Foundation also seeks feedback from the educators who nominate the program participants. Once all feedback is collected, it is analyzed and incorporated into the planning efforts for the next year of the program. For evaluative purposes, all Youspeak Radio participants will have opportunities to reflect on their experience via a facilitated focus group conversation. Qualitative data collected from this conversation will be used when evaluating change in the social and behavioral dimension, related to how well participants have learned technical skills and gained new perspectives including community belonging and resilience. Audience data will also be captured via Zoom, website analytics, social media, and an exit survey.

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

Direct Impact: 24

Indirect Impact: 10,000