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

Lived-Experience Mentorship, Leadership & Entrepreneurial Development

DEUCE Community Inc. will utilize exposure to developmental leadership environments to empower individuals who are system, substance, and housing impacted with both the technical skills and changes in perspective that will sustain their limitless success in the world.


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

Opportunities for People Who Have Been Incarcerated

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

Central LA

South LA

West LA

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?

According to the National Institute of Justice (2023), almost 44% of individuals return to prison within the first year nationally. California's recidivism rate has averaged around 50% over the past ten years. Factors that contribute to a higher recidivism rate include social environment (before and after incarceration), ability to adjust back into normal life, and securing employment to support themselves (World Population Review, 2023). Within DEUCE Community, we are attempting to solve for a lack of self-belief in individuals coming out of prison and off the streets. Our observation is that the goal is too often missed when the focus is on recidivism, addiction, housing, or workforce development.The reality is that those who are system, substance, or housing impacted are almost always denied an opportunity to realize their potential. (2023, May 31). Recidivism Rates by State. World Population Review.

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

DEUCE Community addresses the issue in four primary ways: Lived experience mentorship - Part of our services include structured mentorship with someone who has overcome similar obstacles to find success and purpose. This includes: - Deep relationships - Case management - Structured feedback - Check-ins Community - DEUCE hosts community building activities and events in and outside of the gym. This includes weekly workouts and dinners, street clean-up's, and fundraisers. Developmental leadership environments - Paid internship for up to two interns per year, which provides individuals with the opportunity to participate in leadership and development activities. Housing - Housing allowance granted to each intern provides them an opportunity to focus on personal and professional development rather than overwhelming housing costs. For individuals willing to commit to the program, DEUCE Community offers a paid internship stipend of $1,700 a month. This internship includes a subjective contract drafted by the participant and their mentor. The participant, who is now referred to as a coach, progresses through the program as they take on more responsibility and develop the capacity to navigate the world successfully. The program culminates when the coach is able to transition to a sustainable career (with an upward trajectory) of their choosing.

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

If our work was successful, anyone in LA who was coming off the streets or out of prison, would have: A mentor to work with who had overcome similar struggles. A roadmap for how to get from where they are currently to where they want to go. A positive and uplifting community to belong to. A safe home environment. An opportunity to chase their edges and grow in a field they are passionate about. If all of these things come true, the way in which society approached the issues of recidivism, homelessness, and long term substance use would change drastically. We would begin to view those affected by these things as people instead of problems. We would start to understand that transformation is accessible to anyone who puts in the work and who is surrounded by people who believe in them until they believe in themselves. We believe in a world where anything is possible and where anybody who is motivated and hungry can have a seat at the table.

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 measure success through weekly case management and navigation sessions with the participants in our programs. In these sessions, we track the progress they are making towards their goals as well as how they feel about their home environment, financial situation, the support of their community, their sense of purpose in life, and their ability to overcome the obstacles life is throwing at them. In these sessions, the mentor and the mentee also share feedback and work towards uncovering blind spots that are holding them back. See video here ( on how this is done in more detail.

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

Direct Impact: 2

Indirect Impact: 400