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

Empowering Change in Vulnerable Youth

Elevate Youth bolsters positive youth development by providing access to culturally responsive/linguistically appropriate services to improve youth mental health; increasing high school graduation rates through an on-site partnership with Da Vinci RISE High School and its individualized learning model; offering youth-centered programs that build social-emotional skills, help youth navigate stressors, and provide practical job- and life-skills.


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

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

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

South LA

South Bay

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?

Los Angeles is home to 22,362 foster youth, 3029 homeless youth and 9952 probation youth with these numbers growing each year. These systems often operate cyclically; within two years of aging out of foster care, more than 50% of youth are homeless, incarcerated, and/or on welfare. Youth navigating these systems are exposed to trauma, the effects of which are detrimental to their physical and mental health. Failure to receive treatment for trauma - coupled with a chronic lack of basic necessities such as food and housing - can make it impossible for students to focus on their education, leading to higher drop-out rates and lower rates of college matriculation and completion. Together, Richstone and Da Vinci RISE High School utilize a comprehensive trauma-informed approach that explores the complete picture of a person's life situation to design support plans that incorporate healing strategies, build effective coping skills, and promote resilience and long-term success.

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

Richstone partners with key collaborators to implement the project's wraparound services in three core areas: mental health, educational services, and youth-empowerment programs. Mental Health: Richstone therapists provide: Screenings for exposure to trauma; Individual and Family Therapy that is trauma-informed, culturally responsive, and appropriate to the needs of the youths; and Therapeutic Support Groups to build coping skills, problem-solving strategies and conflict resolution techniques that increase self-regulation and mitigate damaging behaviors. Educational Services: DaVinci RISE High School provides a holistic and integrated school model designed to meet the unique needs of youth navigating foster care, housing instability, probation, and other challenges. Through a flex-scheduling, credit recovery model, students are given voice and choice to explore post-secondary or career pathways. Using tools including student mediations and youth listening sessions students work with peers and staff to develop self-advocacy skills and address barriers resulting from social and systemic inequities. Youth-Empowerment Programs: Collaborations with South Bay Workforce Investment Board, Kinecta, and Indivisible Arts enable youth to engage in employment development, financial literacy, and creative arts programs that promote growth and exploration. Richstone offers basic needs supports (food, clothing, etc) to alleviate challenges that may impede student pathways to growth.

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

Elevate Youth disrupts repetitive cycles and failures of a child welfare and youth justice system that has perpetuated systemic oppression and trauma. Through the project, Richstone offers young people the tools and support they need to develop a strong sense of self and value community, to think critically about the world around them, possess the skills and passion to create change, and feel empowered and prepared to do so. Given the obstacles system-impacted youth have had to overcome and the ongoing barriers they face in pursuit of their education and employment goals, the project ensures they're provided a centralized access point to comprehensive wraparound services that promote mental health and support their academic and personal growth. Goals of the project include providing a holistic approach to addressing the impacts of trauma in youth; closing the opportunity gap; improving school engagement and graduation rates; and increasing the rate of job readiness and employment.

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

Therapy clients work with their Richstone therapist and RISE counselor to establish appropriate goals. Therapists monitor progress towards goals, reporting weekly anecdotal data and quarterly assessment results. RISE consistently gathers student data and feedback to measure program health. Formal student surveys are administered 3x a year to measure areas such as sense of belonging, social support and well-being. Recent surveys noted 94% of students felt there is at least one adult in the project they can go to with their problems and 89% reported they're receiving a high-quality education. Of the 108 RISE alumni to date, although 66% were credit deficient upon enrollment, all earned diplomas within 3 years. Project impact is measured by a team composed of Richstone's Clinical Director, Director of Programs and RISE's Executive Director. The group uses therapist reports, student surveys, attendance records, and grade reports to monitor program effectiveness and determine changes.

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

Direct Impact: 90

Indirect Impact: 140

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Da Vinci RISE High School moved onto Richstone's campus in 2021. The school provides a unique school model designed to address the needs of system-impacted youth. The South Bay Workforce Investment Board (SBWIB) provides pre employment training, work experience and internships, career preparation, occupational skill training, and job placement services for youth ages 14-24. Kinecta is committed to helping youth succeed by providing training and information on topics such as budgeting, credit, and developing healthy financial habits for growth and success. Indivisible Arts is dedicated to cultivating creativity, consciousness, and connection through the arts. They provide art classes centered around consciousness, connection and community, which are important to the healing process.