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

C11 College-bound program for low-income youth

The Thrive in Joy C11 program prepares high school students from low-income families for college. We currently serve students at USC Hybrid High in University Park and Esperanza High in East LA. We are expanding to two additional LA high schools serving similar student demographics for the 2023-24 academic year. C11 provides a curriculum focused on character development, opportunities for student-led entrepreneurial service-learning and supports individual HS students' college readiness as they prepare for higher education opportunities.


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

Income Inequality

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

Central LA

East LA

South 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?

Substantial disparities in college enrollment exist. These are even more prevalent in LA County where only 32% of all eligible Latinos and 33% of African American students actually attend. For first generation college students from historically disenfranchised families, the intensive admissions process is daunting and those who do go to college feel unprepared outside their communities. The C11 program aims to change these statistics with strategies for building strengths and resources for the future. Our goal is to create a culture where students build their leadership skills, are excited about college, and given the tools to be successful. Research shows that low-income students engaged in service tend to have a greater commitment to learning, better school attendance, grades, and academic success. In 2023, two of our seniors received full scholarships to USC and John Hopkins, both identifying Thrive in Joy as having a significant impact in their HS careers and college-readiness.

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

The Thrive in Joy (TJNFF) C11 year-long curriculum provides the tools, support and encouragement for low-income high school students to apply for college and careers. Creating an inclusive college-bound culture for first generation college students, our projects offer an immersive dive into student's own character traits, motivations and causes they believe in. We offer professional college advisors for one-on-one mentoring who help find the right college fit, navigating the application and financial aid process and building interview skills, which is also applicable beyond college for resumes and ultimately careers. This gives TJNFF students a competitive edge against more affluent students whose parents can afford a college support network. The results are students who are motivated to attend college, are able to recognize their power to change injustices and the plan and the motivation to succeed in college. A key program element is our entrepreneurial service project that the senior club leaders complete with the support of their fellow club members. They begin with a needs assessment within their own school or community, and devise a solution. Thrive in Joy provides both financial support and mentorship to carry out their project. We also bring in community partners to further support their efforts. Through this, they learn effective planning, project management, training volunteers and budgeting, as they are responsible for all aspects from inception to completion.

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

In two-thirds of LA County schools, more than 50% of students qualify as low-income. Imagine if a majority of these students participate in a leadership program that prepares them for college and beyond? Our goal is to take our current program and expand to two additional high schools in LA in 2023 and then exponentially grow, eventually including all high schools serving low income students in LA County. With support of LA2050, TJNFF will have the resources to scale our programs while providing the same level of impact for our current partners. TJNFF's vision is to make the C11 program turn-key so it's easily and effectively implemented at any high school. What a difference this would make on the socio-economic landscape of LA County. With a population of college-graduates with hands-on entrepreneurial experience and the passion to help, the next generation of leaders will be prepared to bring equity into their communities paving the way for economic prosperity and social justice.

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

A key measurement of the program's success is the personally, academic and social achievements through improved skills and project work. In our post program evaluation, 94% of students said they feel that knowing their character strengths helps their success, and therefore, inspires them to go to college. 100% of students said they were nervous about being prepared to apply to college before the program and 93% said they were more apt to apply after completion of the program. 100% of students said they want their actions in HS to leave a legacy in their school and/or community. These results exemplify the power of the C11 program but moreso, the success is shown in the entrepreneurial social impact projects conceptualized and managed by students, addressing a need in their community. Past projects have included: a health fair with heart screenings, a body positivity seminar, a mental health awareness day encouraging social interaction and inclusion, and a time-management focus group.

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

Direct Impact: 162

Indirect Impact: 1,296