2023 Grants Challenge

Homeboy Art Academy

The Homeboy Art Academy offers a groundbreaking and effective strategy to help formerly incarcerated and gang-involved people heal from complex trauma. In addition to therapeutic, multi-generational arts programming, the Homeboy Art Academy provides in-demand digital arts skills training to prepare youth and young adults for in-demand careers within creative industries, and links youth to mentors who can guide them through both skills development and career planning in creative economy careers.


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

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by the Snap Foundation)

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

East LA

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

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?

Despite evidence supporting the rehabilitative qualities of arts education for former gang members, access to the arts remains limited. A 2022 report also found that 33% of formerly incarcerated individuals found no employment over four years post-release. The population we serve - of whom 96% are BIPOC - need culturally responsive arts education and the opportunity to explore creative industry careers. While only 27% of Los Angeles' population is White, most employees in the creative industries are White. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is focused on improving career pathways in the creative sector - especially for BIPOC youth and those who have been involved with the justice system. Los Angeles' creative sector has tremendous economic impact; it is responsible for 699,600 jobs and $53.5 billion in labor income, or 18.5% of the County's workforce. Many creative economy jobs employ young people, both in long-term careers and as stepping stones to other creative endeavors.

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

The Homeboy Art Academy is rooted in a trauma-informed approach to gang prevention, diversion, intervention through the arts, and career development. Our community-based programs promote healing and teach resiliency by allowing participants to make personal connections to their culture, identity, and community. While healing will always be at the core of everything we do, we also recognize the need to develop the technical skills and talents of our youth to prepare them for employment in creative industries. The Homeboy Art Academy offers a multimedia lab where youth can learn in-demand tech-focused design careers in the creative industry (i.e., learning graphic design to create logos and other promotional materials). The lab also provides virtual reality (VR) headsets which youth can use to learn basic coding to create their own virtual spheres. Homeboy Art Academy also features a Music Production Program in which youth receive instruction and practice time to learn elements within the production, engineering, writing, and recording of music, spoken word, and podcasts. Youth have also participated in stand-up comedy lessons designed to help them process their trauma through humor. All youth then create high-quality digital portfolios - which includes musical tracks and accompanying artwork, recordings of podcasts, and videos from stand-up comedy performances - to showcase their work and increase their professionalism when applying for jobs in the creative industries.

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

Homeboy Art Academy's focus on connecting our youth to career opportunities in the creative industry provides access to in-demand careers with competitive wages and growth opportunities. We are also working to dismantle racist systems and reduce barriers for gang- and system-involved youth now and in the future. In the report "Building Creative Career Pathways for Youth: A Field Scan for Los Angeles County", recommendations are made for ways organizations can support young people to break through barriers and improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the creative industries. Homeboy Art Academy aligns to the recommendation to "Create extended on-ramps for system-involved youth by coordinating career pathway programs, supportive service providers, case workers, and mentors to work as a team to support vulnerable youth. Ensure that each participant has support as they pursue arts education, career exploration and readiness, work-based learning, and finally full-time 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?

When we measure success at the Homeboy Art Academy, we focus on the number of individuals who meet their personal goals towards transformation. Annual goals include: ? Continue investing in the leadership development training of two (2) youth leaders as mentors through the Youth Art Navigator program; and ? Prioritize funding for youth to develop high-quality digital portfolios to showcase their creative talents as they access internship and interview opportunities. These portfolios will be a source of pride for the youth and levels the playing field as they compete for creative industry careers. ? Serve 200 justice-system impacted children, youth, and young adults through Homeboy Art Academy programming; ? Conduct five (5) different art programs for justice-system impacted children, youth, and young adults. Data collection, measuring of the outcomes, and implementation of the systems at Homeboy Industries is under the direction of our Chief of Research Evaluation and Strategy.

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

Direct Impact: 200

Indirect Impact: 800