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

Creating Sustainability: Certified apprenticeships for foster and system-impacted youth.

Idea by Better Youth

Better Youth ensures equitable access to innovative education, professional development, and creative industry careers for foster and system-impacted youth. Youth receive cutting-edge technical training through our onsite media arts training program at no cost. With a robust curriculum and comprehensive support, we encourage youth to express their unique voices and create pathways for their livelihoods. By creating strengths-based alternatives that empower youth, we will transform L.A. into a place of opportunity for all.


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?

South LA

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

The creative industry is pivotal in the California economy, contributing substantially to regional product and job creation. However, the creative sector and state government recognize a workforce gap, listing "creative arts workforce development" as a state priority and looking for ways to better educate youth on the career paths available and their necessary training. Since the creation of the Arts, Media, and Entertainment (AME) sector by the California Department of Education, it has grown to serve over 230,000 students and is the largest sector in California. This rapid growth tells us that students sincerely want these opportunities and that the field will continue to grow in competitiveness. Increasing competitiveness is problematic for L.A.'s disadvantaged youth, as they often lack the technical skills necessary to advance their careers. Beyond training, the trauma of their lived experience and current barriers to success must be addressed for their long-term success.

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

What sets Better Youth apart from other programs is its focus on serving BIPOC, foster and system-impacted youth in a whole-person manner. Our students face significant educational, professional, and economic barriers to establishing successful careers. To help our students overcome these barriers, we developed a pre-apprenticeship program known as AIM-N-Inspire, which provides training in creative occupations such as animation, interactive gaming, digital video editing, project management, and media production, providing opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible. We unlock their potential by bridging the learning and technology gap through state-of-the-art training, focusing on technical and soft skills, fostering leadership qualities, and providing one-on-one mentorship with industry professionals who sincerely believe in each student's success. Our youth-centric culture fosters safe and affirming relationships where they can thrive, while our strength-based approach empowers them to use their unique voices and narratives creatively. Last year, California expanded apprenticeship standards to include a path for creative arts, creating an incredible opportunity for Better Youth to powerfully serve our students by expanding our existing pre-apprenticeship program. Our next step is to expand our current programming to include a credentialled apprenticeship track. A successful launch of this expansion includes at least 1-3 apprentices graduating in 2024.

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

We build stronger communities and reduce social and economic inequalities by empowering underrepresented youth to thrive in the evolving workforce. By offering training in creative occupations, we encourage sustainability in the creative economy and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive industry. Our work positively impacts the youth we serve, the creative sector that benefits from their talent, and the broader education system addressing student development. The apprenticeship education model uniquely provides our vulnerable youth with prospects for an improved future by improving social and emotional well-being, increasing the likelihood that an individual will graduate from traditional education, and creating critical paths to sustainable employment. Our students are 3x as likely to graduate from high school and 2x as likely to enroll in and graduate from college as the community average. Additionally, 100% of our students report social and emotional well-being improvements.

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 assess graduation rates, school and program attendance, participation in mentorship, paid work experience opportunities, and enthusiasm for attending educational events. We aim to maintain a program completion rate of 90% and assist 80% of program participants in securing continuing education and career opportunities. We strive for at least 90% of participants to graduate from high school, enroll in higher education, and/or become gainfully employed. Moreover, our program focuses on developing social-emotional behavior and 21st-century soft skills in 100% of our students. In 2023, received a grant for Technical Assistance from a consultancy specializing in youth mentoring programs. In anticipation of launching the apprenticeship program, we will deeply analyze our data and refine intended outcomes. This approach will provide a more comprehensive understanding of program effectiveness and allow us to accurately showcase our true impact on the lives of the youth we serve.

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

Direct Impact: 3

Indirect Impact: 150