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

Enhancing Lives of Justice Impacted Adults

A Step to Freedom offers comprehensive wrap-around programs and services to homeless and justice-impacted individuals regardless of race, creed, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual identity. We invest in the people and community of South Los Angeles by addressing psychosocial issues that perpetuate cycles of subversive behavior: trauma, lack of coping skills, life management skills, educational attainment, and job readiness skills.


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

Opportunities for People Who Have Been Incarcerated

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

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?

A Step to Freedom (ASF) believes that safe and stable housing is an essential element for individuals experiencing homelessness to be able to work towards self-sufficiency. A number of barriers typically prevent justice-involved individuals from securing housing stability and consistent livable wages. Homeless and justice-involved individuals often have experienced some form of trauma in their lives that can hinder their ability to obtain self-efficacy. To truly address the issue of homelessness we must also address the systemic racism, anti-black racism, and economic injustice that are the reason for the disproportionate rate of homelessness and poverty in the African American community.

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

ASF incorporates Housing First principles by providing housing without requiring participation in its various support services and programs. Our organization's culturally relevant services all work towards advancing equity for high-risk homeless individuals from Los Angeles' most under-resourced and disadvantaged neighborhoods. Harm Reduction Principles practiced by our staff reduce the risk and harmful effects associated with substance use and addictive behaviors. To continue to respond to community needs, ASF aims to expand programs, improve our organizational capacity, and extend our reach within South Los Angeles. This successful combination provides ASF clients with comprehensive wrap around services and resources to help them break cycles, heal, and thrive. We look forward to empowering individuals to find and follow their pathway to self-sufficiency and transform their lives through staffing increases, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) investment through the creation of a client advisory board and onboarding of staff able to support and invite clients with hearing and vision impairments to use our services.

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

ASF programs build the community of South Los Angeles by empowering its most vulnerable population. Transition from homelessness to clean, safe and stable housing transforms lives and helps clients remove barriers to independence, self-sufficiency and self-efficacy. ASF's culturally relevant services all work towards advancing equity for high-risk homeless individuals from our most under-resourced and disadvantaged neighborhoods. Our programming assists individuals achieve self-sufficiency, which increases the number of employed, engaged citizens, that can help to grow and build their community. Entrepreneurial programs help to build not only individual wealth but also the wealth of the community. ASF's career and vocational programs help to build the workforce and improve the life skills, well-being, and mental health of South LA residents, promoting a future where homeless and justice impacted individuals can recover from trauma and overcome barriers to self-sufficiency.

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

In 2018 ASF began to expand, opening three sites in addition to our original campus to accommodate a continued increase in clients. We have transformed a 12-bed, all-volunteer-run agency into a 96-bed organization, with a $1.9 million budget and 33 paid staff. Our residential programs have provided over 2,500 individuals with a safe space to rebuild their lives and access to the resources and wrap around services to help them achieve self-sufficiency. Since our inception we have served over 3,500 clients. Of these individuals, 20% secured permanent housing and 15% obtained employment prior to exiting our program. Other outcomes achieved by ASF participants include increased mental health, completion of education goals, obtainment and maintenance of living wage jobs, a safe and secure development, a richer artistic appreciation, deeper perspectives in life, and improved life skills and relationships.

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

Direct Impact: 43

Indirect Impact: 1,500