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

Inclusive Career Guidance and Life Planning for Students

Get Focused, Stay Focused works with schools across Los Angeles to help close achievement gaps, empowering students of all backgrounds to explore the full range of possible career options while countering harmful social messages that reinforce structural inequity. The core of our program is a semester- or year-long curriculum, typically implemented in ninth grade, that helps students develop a 10-year life plan through personal reflection, a self-assessment of individual strengths and skills, and career exploration research.


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

Youth Economic Advancement (sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation)

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

County 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?

GFSF fills a widespread need for career guidance that is comprehensive in scope, stays culturally responsive to the needs and goals of diverse student populations, and extends across multiple years as students grow and develop. This support is particularly crucial for low-income students, BIPOC students, and others who experience structural barriers to academic and financial success - especially in the wake of COVID, which has massively disrupted education and exacerbated existing achievement gaps. Research shows that many young people give up on their dream jobs because they do not perceive them as accessible to someone of their race, gender, class, or other identity category. Los Angeles also suffers from a severe deficit in the number of counselors, with the average counselor-to-student ratio in Los Angeles Unified School District high schools 1:495 in the 2019-2020 school year - nearly double the recommended ratio of 1:250 set by the American School Counselor Association.

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

Our goal is for teachers and school representatives to be able to tailor the implementation to individual students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and with varying talents and skills, to provide more equitable and inclusive guidance. All GFSF curriculum providers are trained through a six-hour professional development workshop or online self-paced study guide to launch them into teaching the curriculum, but these teachers often have no formal education in career counseling. This grant would support our professional training in Los Angeles including: A new Professional Learning Community (PLC) in the region, with weekly check-ins for teachers to learn about the curriculum pacing and additional resources, share ideas on face-to-face, group, and virtual teaching, and support each other in this new role. Professional development workshop in cultural competency and inclusion for teachers to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion practices to boost career self-efficacy in low-income and other underserved students. A K-12 Labor Market Summit coordinated with regional colleges and employers, sharing how students can access high-wage, high-demand careers with options for low-cost training to enter those jobs. This workshop provides teachers with tools to demonstrate job market accessibility and shows them how to teach students where and how to find local opportunities through publicly available data such as market reports, presentations, and videos.

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

GFSF teaches students practical life skills including financial management, change management training, and resiliency, building self-efficacy through employability skills development. In the long-term, participation in the GFSF curriculum has been proven to improve crucial student outcomes, including higher GPAs, increased high school graduation rates, higher college retention rates, decreased suspensions, and higher acceptance to four-year universities. In the short term, our goal is for teachers in Los Angeles to tailor the implementation to individual students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and with varying talents and skills, to provide more equitable and inclusive guidance. Training includes strategies to launch discussions about equitable career decision-making, to help ensure low-income and other underserved students have access to high-paying careers as well as the personal and professional life skills to navigate obstacles and challenges that may arise.

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

GFSF shares its impact through publicly available research reports and case studies available on our website at Throughout our implementation, we maintain quantitative, qualitative, and anecdotal records to measure the impact of the project including as a minimum: professional development records and evaluation, numbers of teachers served, number of students served, and pre- and post-implementation surveys. Progress and final evaluation reports will be provided as required. Our evaluation methods include surveys for participants before and after, to assess the quality of professional development sessions and facilitators so that we may continue to improve our training for future implementers. We also track the number of attendees from schools, including those who are new to implementing the curriculum, and those who continue to offer the curriculum in their schools and districts.

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

Direct Impact: 80

Indirect Impact: 25,000