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

Leveraging VR for Reentry and At-Risk Populations

Made New Foundation will leverage the power of virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to support the needs of reentering adults and at-risk, system-involved youth. We will create and provide access to virtual "real-world" scenarios that help youth and adults navigate challenging situations and learn how to successfully engage with the world around them. This will not only nurture core life and coping skills but will also expose youth and adults to technology that they may otherwise not have the opportunity to access.


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

Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth

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

South LA

South Bay

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?

Reentry into mainstream society from incarceration can be challenging for several reasons including stigma, limited education/employment opportunities, mental health/substance use issues, and inadequate access to supportive services. Individuals are often unprepared or underprepared to face real-life situations when they return from incarceration and experience challenges using new technology, adjusting to social norms, and interacting in social environments. These factors hinder successful reintegration, perpetuate cycles of marginalization, and increase the risk of recidivism. Black and Latino youth and adults living in Los Angeles face additional barriers to reintegration as a result of historic disinvestment that have left the communities we serve devastated and with insufficient resources. Made New Foundation tackles these challenges by bringing VR and AI directly to formerly incarcerated and at-risk youth and adults to develop their real-life social and life skills.

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

With the support of LA2050, Made New Foundation will implement an innovative VR and AI program to support the unmet needs of reentering and at-risk/system-involved youth and adults in LA. This will include real-life VR and AI environments that acclimate individuals to the changing world around them and support the development of core life skills. Activities include: - VR Scenarios: In partnership with ASU we will create four VR scenarios that address how to use modern technology (e.g., ATM machines, self-checkout), interacting in social environments, coping with triggering situations, and more. Scenarios are developed by individuals with lived experience to ensure we are meeting our population's needs. - VR/AI Bus: Using a fully equipped VR/AI bus, we will travel to local schools to expose youth to innovative technology while preparing them for real world situations. The bus will also be deployed to transitional homes, community events, and partner agencies. - CBT and Life Skills: We partner with a licensed psychiatrist and other professionals in the development of our scenarios to ensure they incorporate CBT and core life skills including de-escalation, conflict resolution, problem-solving, and other relevant competencies. - AI Chatbot: We will streamline access to supportive services by leveraging AI to collect client information, match them with services, and facilitate connections with service providers.

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

Made New will make Los Angeles a safer and more inclusive place to live by promoting the following outcomes: - Reduced Recidivism: VR/AI interventions will enhance the success of reentry programs by more effectively acclimating and preparing individuals for reintegration. - Improved Well-being: VR therapy and AI-powered mental health support can assist in addressing and managing psychological challenges, improving overall wellness. - Employment: By improving job skills and access to training and education, individuals can secure gainful employment, reducing recidivism and increasing their economic self-sufficiency. - Social Integration: By developing social skills and facilitating community engagement, VR and AI can help build strong social connections and support networks. Overall, the integration of VR and AI in reentering adult programs holds significant potential to empower individuals, promote positive outcomes, and foster a more compassionate, empathetic, and inclusive society.

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

Made New Foundation is building upon evidence-based VR/AI programs to deliver these services to individuals across Los Angeles. To assess the success of our program, we will measure the following: - Participant Feedback: Through surveys, interviews, and focus groups we will get feedback from participants and identify opportunities for improvement, providing valuable insight into our effectiveness. - Behavioral Changes: Improvements in communication skills, critical thinking, decision-making, and conflict resolution as indicated by pre-program behaviors and self-assessment. - Skill Acquisition: Determine if participants have gained new skills/knowledge and assess proficiency levels using pre- and post-program evaluations and skills tests. - Employment/Education Outcomes: Monitor progress toward finding employment or furthering education following program completion. - Reduced Recidivism: We will compare reoffending rates of program participants with similar populations.

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

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: 900