Equity & Inclusion for At-Risk Deaf Youth
No Limits for Deaf Children and Families provides equity and inclusion to underrepresented deaf youth through its after-school educational centers and theater arts program. Funds will underwrite its STEAM program, providing hands-on, interactive learning that will serve as a source of cognitive, intellectual, and mental health development. Students who often have been pushed through the system will deepen their connection to their role in the world, understanding themselves as innovative contributors and valued members of society.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
K-12 STEAM Education
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
San Gabriel Valley
San Fernando Valley
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?
Per the CA Dept of Education, the overall literacy rates of deaf high school students remain consistently at a fifth-grade level, and that the high school drop-out rate for deaf teenagers is more than triple that of their hearing peers (Easterbrooks & Beal-Alvarez, 2013). Deaf youth are given little to no access to after-school programs for college readiness, leadership, and advocacy. Sadly, deaf students are pushed through the school system and received little support. The impact of inequity cannot be overstated. Most deaf youth need academic intervention as a result of their language delays. No Limits fills in the void through its STEAM program which provides critical problem-solving and life skills that can make them competitive in the workforce. STEAM serves as an important source of language, cognitive, intellectual, and social development. It gives our youth opportunities to deepen their connection to the world and learn how to advocate for inclusion for themselves and others.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
No Limits STEAM program is located at our LA Educational Center and 31 pop up locations in the greater Los Angeles area. There are three 10-week sessions (fall, winter, spring) with its theater program in the summer. Youth attend for up to eight hours per week (30 hours a week in summer), encompassing group classes and 1:1 engagement focused on core academics, literacy, therapies, and STEAM intervention. At the end of each 10-week session, each student presents their own graduation speech by memory in front of hundreds of people, showcasing their development of confidence and public speaking skills. Many of its students share how they aspire to work within the STEAM field. STEAM programming is an important aspect of our curriculum. Our specialized deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) teachers focus on the development of critical thinking skills, math, engineering by designing and performing experiments, evaluating data, and sharing results. This includes topics for its students to understand their own hearing loss. For example, our deaf youth learn about their own hearing loss, including reading their audiograms, which enables them to be active in conversations and decision-making where their hearing loss intersects with their educational and social needs. They also learn about sound waves and vibrations, the difference between frequency and pitch, and how decibels, amplification and volume differ. The data reveals improvement in their overall mental well-being.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
No Limits STEAM programming is now needed more than ever to change the course of underserved deaf children's lives by addressing learning gaps as a result of Covid 19 and providing the additional services required to succeed. No Limits is both humbled and honored to serve as the: - First and Only no-cost after-school program in the country providing comprehensive programming to deaf youth, ages birth to 21 - First and Only theater arts program for deaf youth who speak; - First and Only weekly parent classes for deaf youth from birth-21 years; - First and Only bi-weekly literacy intervention classes for school-age deaf youth; - First and Only weekly Leadership and Mentoring Program for deaf teens in the country. In light of the vital in-person instruction our students lost during the pandemic, as well as the social isolation and mental health challenges they have had to confront, this program helps to remedy the systemic inequity that our students face in their lives and communities.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
No Limits STEAM is an existing program, but recently expanded its reach beyond its LA Educational Center. Due to the aftermath of the pandemic, our deaf youth faced many challenges with remote learning-struggling with Zoom's sound quality and suffering from social loneliness. Face masks exacerbated the problem of isolation. Returning to in-person learning was paramount to stop the increasing learning gap, yet families could not afford the enormous increase in gas prices to travel to-and-from the Center. No Limits Pop-Ups were created with families meeting at local libraries near their home. We currently have 31 sites in LA and 6 in Ventura County. It has been extremely successful allowing us to provide no cost programming not only to our current families, but those who were hindered from enrolling due to distance. Parents have a choice between the Center or a Pop Up. We offer the same core robust curriculum, pre-post assessments and yearly standardized testing to measure our impact.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 700
Indirect Impact: 2,500