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

Here We Thrive: Health & Economic Resiliency

To address generational poverty and income inequality, MEND developed Here We Thrive, new linked programs that build health and economic self-sufficiency for vulnerable SFV residents, including many immigrants. Bilingual wellness, employment, and wraparound assistance programs build on client strengths while accommodating immigration and other challenges. Thorough assessments, group activities, 1:1 coaching, and individual success plans guide and empower participants through health improvement, workforce development, and supportive strategies.


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

Income Inequality

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

San Fernando Valley

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?

MEND's pre-pandemic community needs assessment pointed to crucial needs for food, wellness, income, jobs, and housing-and those needs have only grown with recent price increases. Pacoima/Arleta low-income residents (80% Latino, with limited education, often monolingual) cut corners where they can: 38% live in garages or vehicles, on couches or doubled-up in overcrowded units. With average incomes at or below the federal poverty level ($13,590 for 1 person), they struggle on multiple fronts, with both immediate and long-term needs. For undocumented immigrants without access to government benefits (30% of the people MEND serves), the situation is even more dire. As one participant in MEND's food line shared, "There is nothing left to cut."? Seeing the need to address long-term self-sufficiency-11% of our clients have been coming for food for a decade-MEND has developed Here We Thrive, a suite of new programs that build health and economic wellness for vulnerable Valley residents.

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

Complementing our food security programs, MEND's Here We Thrive programs address longer-term challenges on the path to resiliency and self-sufficiency: wellness, jobs, and income strategies. Each program offers thorough assessments, group activities, 1:1 coaching, and individual success plans, building on client strengths while accommodating language barriers and immigration challenges. Pathways to Wellness offers exercise, support, nutrition counseling, and healthy food to improve physical and mental health for people with or at risk of chronic or diet-related medical conditions. Pathways staff also provide care coordination and management to increase wellness and decrease costly crisis services. Gateways Employment Services provides a continuum of employment services, building job-search savvy, employer connections, resumes, and soft skills for workplace success. Assistance includes obtaining necessary documents, vocational training, and temporary work experience, along with job fairs, career education, employer connections, appropriate worksite clothing, and warm hand-off referrals for education, transportation, and childcare, all aiming toward goals of living-wage jobs and/or entrepreneurship. Connections system navigation services follow through on additional supports and resources, helping with benefits, rent/utilities discounts, tax preparation, financial literacy, legal services, mental health counseling, and more.

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

MEND envisions a thriving community in Arleta-Pacoima. If our work is successful, Northeast SFV families will move beyond immediate crises to address long-term health and economic issues. With MEND's assistance, people in need will achieve stability and self-sufficiency one by one. The LA2050 grant will directly fund staff and additional participant support for our Here We Thrive (HWT) program. In the short term, HWT builds knowledge and skills to improve health literacy and job readiness, particularly for immigrants. Participants practice good nutrition, exercise, and medical monitoring; develop job search and career plans; and/or gain interview and work experience. In the middle term, participants improve health and/or gain jobs. In the longer term, participants retain better health and employment, contributing to local community resiliency.

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

MEND measures impact through individual assessments, goals, biometrics, jobs gained, and services rendered on system dashboards and case notes. Pathways' first 2 years have improved wellness for 238 people with or at risk of chronic, diet-related health conditions. Gateways Employment's 1st year has served 142 people and gained jobs for 14%. These programs take time to create long-term results, but our continued efforts are powered by participants' stories of individual solutions to food, wellness, income, and employment. Pedro gained control over his diabetes by actively participating in our Spanish wellness workshops, accessing healthier foods from our in-house market, joining our biweekly walking group, and engaging in bimonthly 1:1 wellness coaching.?After picking up food from MEND for 14 years, Maria tackled other issues with Gateways staff-ID, a traffic ticket, and a serious job search. Now, months later, she has met these challenges with employment and modest economic stability.

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

Direct Impact: 381

Indirect Impact: 1,524