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

Heart and Soul Learning Center

Our program is closing the gap in education and learning for youth and individuals in the South LA community by enable individuals to utilize multiple modalities of learning with new and different methods of learning, based upon student's knowledge, needs, interest, and talents. Our program will help close opportunity gaps as well as long-standing inequities in community investment, education, and socioeconomic outcomes among low-income communities of color.


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?

South LA

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

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

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

We fully understand the issue we are seeking to address because we are located in the heart of the community that we are striving to uplift and have years of experience serving our community. South LA has the highest "hardship" levels in LA County, and residents experience disproportionately high unemployment, poverty, high school dropout, and poor health outcomes compared to the rest of LA County. We are located in the Westmont area of South LA, also referred to as "Death Alley" because it has the highest homicide rate in LA County. Our area is a "high intensity drug trafficking area", contributing to youth involvement with drugs/gangs, and has a high rate of foster care entry due to parental drug use and illegal activity. A lack of family stability, role models, and mentors contributes to gaps in personal and social development and can leave youth feeling hopeless. South LA has a high concentration of "disconnected" youth - those neither in school nor working during ages 16-24.

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

Our learning center will utilize multiple modalities of learning with new and different methods of learning, based upon student's knowledge, needs, interest, and talents. Knowing that everyone does not learn in the same ways, nor at the same rate the Center will utilize a state approved curriculum as a foundation, and focus on individual learning, catering to the particular needs of each student. The goal is to meet the student at their level and address their needs to obtain their necessary proficiency. We want to provide students with the tools to unlock their unique capabilities rather than programmed information. HAS Center introduces Media and technology to expound upon teaching. This includes a film studio, recording studio, digital classroom, podcast, graphics/printing room, audio engineering, and more; all located onsite in the heart of South LA. The program simultaneously addresses multiple core issues important to youth in low income communities such as: affordable housing, leadership development, education, and employment opportunities in in-demand industries and apprenticeship pathways. This model balances project-based academic learning and occupational skills training to prepare youth for career placement and supports the Administration's goal to build a modern and sustainable infrastructure.

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

The public school systems in the South LA area are rated amongst the lowest in the county. This is shown not only in test scores but within the knowledge of our students. Through our current programs of year round classes, on average 3 out of 5 students can not fully read or write at grade level. We saw this worsen during the pandemic. Our program would work to rebuild confidence into these students and their families. We created a safe place for them to learn and grow where the role of the teaching staff is then able to change from instructor, to a mentor and a person who truly knows and cares about the individual they are teaching, creating specific opportunities to enrich their lives how they see fit for each person. Los Angeles County would be different because individuals from the entire county would feel they received quality care and education regardless of their income status or zip code.

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 will utilize a combination of qualitative and quantitative method to measure our success against several metrics: 1. Student and parent interest/engagement (as measured by surveys as well as weekly community building circles that serve as a mental temperature check for students and parents). 2. Student retention (our goal is to retain 75% of students through the program, while encouraging them to stay engaged with HAS Center over time, taking advantage of our other programming). 3. Student learning and skill development (as measured by our pre-post program skills test). 4. Student academic performance (as measured by testing, report cards, and student progress reports). We aim for a minimum of 75% of students to experience positive academic, behavioral, and life skills progression as a result of our program. The life changing impact of our program is proven by the numerous success stories of HAS Center students over the years

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

Direct Impact: 50

Indirect Impact: 750