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


VSSN's CLUES (Collaborative Learning for Urban Environmental Science) offers a specially designed creative arts certificate that increases learners' skillset and knowledge in the enviro-science industry. CLUES is designed to increase employment for artists within the green sector, especially those underserved military-connected people, ages 13-24 years old. Our LA education partners help learners wake up their human ingenuity by exploring urban habitats around them, becoming stewards of the environment, and entering creative career paths.


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

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by the Snap Foundation)

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

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles


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?

VSSN's team offers over 30 years of combined knowledge in the military, employment, creative, and green sector to assist future creative artists acquire the certifications that set them apart from other job seekers. We know that Angelenos deal with some of the country's worst unemployment, underemployment, social-environmental justice, pollution, and land usage. These issues need to be addressed creatively with the development of young people's skills in order to bring solutions and ease the necessary transition toward a greener and more sustainable future. Studies show that green projects foster an intense desire among youth and young adults which drives interest to work in innovative industries. VSSN's CLUES initiative is necessary in order to develop employment pathways that integrate creative and green economies. LA must ensure that its workforce, including military-connected youth and young adults, can adapt to the problems and respond to the opportunities that lie ahead.

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

The grant will create greener spaces while developing skills and interest in creative career pathways that involve agriculture, and environmental science for military service-connected youth and young adults in Los Angeles, ages 13 to 24. In particular, the grant is intended to support... *over 100 creative arts in green spaces skill-base certificates with wrap-around support services *Summer or long-term employment placements * Enviro-friendly and green space activities held in gardens, marine ports, the zoo, and/or public park spaces * Youth lead PSA campaigns *Annual "Environmental Science and Creative Industry Luncheons", where VSSN brings together the CLUES Initiative participants, grantors, industry, and community professionals. All attendees can network, view learners' PSAs, dine, and get connected to resources and opportunities for civic projects, employment, apprenticeships, and/or career opportunities. In addition, attendees can share their thoughts while participating in panel discussions and round tables that address issues like; how to overcome personal and professional barriers as a minority and/or military service-connected person, the importance of staying connected, and how to gain access to higher-paying, family-supporting jobs with benefits within the creative and environmental sectors.

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

Upon the success of VSSN's work, Los Angeles County will find ... * Improved quality of life for all Angelenos who live, work, worship, learn, and play within their borders-where every person is equipped to make more informed choices about accessible, healthy, available, and affordable options. *Increased opportunities for all people to be physically active and socially engaged as part of their daily routine, improving the physical and mental health of LA's citizens. * Stronger sense of inclusion and belongingness in which young Angelenos may choose to remain all their lives in their Los Angeles community because it reflects their changing lifestyles and supports their mental and physical well-being. *Lower risk of injuries, health conditions, suicide, and harmful behavior. *Added beauty to the city and county parks and public spaces.

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

VSSN's 2022 CLUES pilot project has tracked an 86% job placement and 96% education placement rate from participants. As we launch a full-scale project, we are prepared to move new data forward to provide VSSN and our funders with metrics that measure and give insights into the project's performance. With the aid of our licensed software, VSSN is able to track, analyze, measure, and create reports to improve performance and service delivery. VSSN has identified the following KPIs to aid in measuring the quality and impact of each certification program, practicum experience, and, job placement services provided to participants. *Attendance *Certificate completion rate *Time to proficiency (skill development to implementation) *Knowledge and retention through engaging and repeating opportunities to learn *Surveys findings of pre and post, satisfaction *Employment placements *ROI (calculating skill effect on the actual pay grade of each learner placed with employment or a paid internship)

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

Direct Impact: 250

Indirect Impact: 1,250

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

VSSN is excited to partner in 'the 23-'24 school year with LAUSD, in which JROTC units and several military groups will help identify learners and share the opportunity to register for CLUES. The following institutions are the non-exclusive partners who intend to underwrite the cost of specific certificates: Cal Arts, Academy of Arts, Musicians Institute, & Los Angeles Trade and Technical College. VSSN's CLUES team partners with the following organizations to implement a strength-based intervention with the support of professionals (e.g. educators, mental health workers, employers, and social workers)... Dept of Veteran Affairs Vocational Rehab DPSS Los Angeles AJCC Dept of Industrial Relations California Farm Academy Apprenticeship LA County Parks Sensible Weather Rentech Sugar Lab