LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Build Your Own Dreams

We teach our youth responsibility, accountability, and critical thinking so they can build their own businesses and dreams!


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

Youth Economic Advancement (sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation)

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?

The issue we are facing in East Los Angeles is a lack of safe spaces for neighborhood kids, who have nowhere to go after school. Unfortunately, many come from homes where gang affiliations run deep and have been for generations, or single-parent homes, where they are raising themselves. Often, this manifests itself in failing grades and, ultimately, failing out of school before graduating high school. Per the latest census, East LA has a 55% high school graduation rate. Once these kids fail out of school, they are expected to financially contribute to their households but with no high school diploma, employment opportunities are often limited. At a minimum wage rate, they are forced to take on multiple jobs or, sadly, involve themselves in the illegal activities that the gangs offer. Our program's most recent graduation rate was 83%. Breaking this cycle early by intervening in their tween and teen age years is imperative. These safe spaces are a significant part of the solution.

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

Our after school program originated at our East LA skate board shop. A year after opening our doors, a number of kids were hanging in, or around, the store at the end of every school day. Slowly, we realized that many of these kids had nowhere to go after school. Unfortunately, home for many of these kids are not safe spaces. Keeping them off the streets became a priority so we became that safe space for them. The program evolved into a tutoring and mentoring program where we provide the tools, support, and skills set necessary to graduate from high school. While the majority of our efforts are focused on their advancement into higher education, we are aware that a significant number of our participants will not attend college. A lack of familial financial support or access to funding play a large factor in their decision to postpone or pass on attending college. In an effort to provide these kids with an alternative to college, we developed the entrepreneurial program. The entrepreneurial program equips them with the tools needed to establish their own businesses and help them become more successful and productive citizens in our communities. As a part of our program, we emphasize the responsibility of giving back to their East LA community. Our kids are experiencing the benefits of giving back and come full circle by the end of the program.

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

First, by keeping our kids off the streets, we expect to see less of them turn to the gang lifestyle that is so prevalent. After completing our entrepreneurial program, many of our participants' goals are to find employment in Hollywood's music & film industry. They know that Los Angeles abounds with opportunities for them to find jobs in the fields they love so much. With the proper training, they can begin working after graduating high school to help provide additional income & a more comfortable lifestyle to their families. Many of our East LA families live below the poverty level. These music & film jobs are unionized & pay far above minimum wage. This is a huge step up for many kids, whose immigrant parents work for minimum wages & are often mistreated by their employers. For those who are developing their brands & clothing lines or focused on establishing their own production companies, we expect them to become future employers in East LA & the surrounding communities.

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 entrepreneurial program consists of conceiving a business idea, developing the idea into something tangible and marketable, then establishing the necessary infrastructure to further their idea and/or product. Creative arts, in particular, have proven to be the most successful factor in engaging our kids. Some are designing their own brands, clothing lines and skateboards. Six months ago, they learned how to develop their own websites, and we have nine entrepreneurs selling their merchandise now! They are inspired by the "celebrity" skaters they meet, the "celebrity" brands they have established, and recognize that is one possible avenue of success for them. Others are creating movies and music videos. They have learned how to edit those videos and promote their services within the community. For many, the goal has become to secure employment in the entertainment industry or establishing their own production companies. Creating content on YouTube is also on the minds of some.

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

Direct Impact: 150

Indirect Impact: 600