Margin to Mainstream: Art & Enterprise for Unhoused Youth
Safe Place for Youth's (SPY's) Healing Arts Program supports underrepresented youth-artists and entrepreneurs, largely from marginalized communities, who face barriers to housing, health, and employment. With weekly art workshops, music lessons, a digital arts lab, paid internships, on-the-job training, and access to e-commerce platforms, the Program ensures that youth experiencing homelessness develop the resources, skills, and partnerships they need to access and participate in the creative economy.
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?
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?
Youth from historically marginalized backgrounds remain cut off from exposure to and participation in the creative industries. This is especially true for youth who experience homelessness, who lack access to the most basic of needs (shelter, food, health), blocking the prospect of unpaid internships, mentorships and even knowledge of how to tap into the creative industries. Safe Place for Youth addresses this pipeline issue through its Healing Arts Program. In 2022, over 2,000 youth in LA County indicated homelessness and thousands more were at-risk. This largely includes youth from marginalized communities; in 2022, 53% of SPY youth identified as Black/African American and 28% Latinx; 26% identified as LGBTQ+, and 37% had experience in foster care. By providing basic supportive services alongside nuanced training in digital arts, music, branding, and e-commerce, SPY is breaking barriers to employment for homeless and at-risk youth.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Equipped with art supplies, musical instruments, a sound proof digital arts lab, an e-commerce platform for selling artisanal products, SPY's Healing Arts Program provides unhoused youth with opportunities to cultivate their talents, develop technical and transferable skills, gain mentorship, and drive income generation by participating in our paid internships, working with our ecommerce platform, and finding post participation employment. Working collaboratively with SPY's Housing, Health, and Education & Employment Programs, youth are able to stabilize, ensuring that their professional development goals remain a priority. As part of our partnership with LA2050, SPY will ensure that youth experiencing homelessness are provided with weekly Healing Arts workshops and training so that the talents of underrepresented youth are nurtured, that equitable access to the arts is delivered, and that youth well-being is improved. Youth who participate in our Healing Arts Program are more likely to enroll in SPY's other stabilizing programs (housing, health, education & employment). A great opportunity for local business partners to support their unhoused neighbors, our Healing Arts Program has welcomed partnerships with Google, Magic Links, Deutsch Advertising, and Genies. Participants of our Healing Arts Program have gained employment at The Giving Keys, a jewelry design company and Manifest Works, becoming a Production Assistant for film/television.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
The goal of our Healing Arts Program is to nurture the talents of underrepresented youth. We do this by creating equitable access to the arts and the employment opportunities that yield from it; and by promoting youth health and well-being. Our ability to create access to the arts is measured through Program utilization. In 2022, 334 individual youth accessed and engaged with SPY's Healing Arts Program. As part of our 12-month grant term with LA 2050, we proposed to increase our reach by 20% from 334 to 400 youth. Success will also be measured by our ability to connect youth to employment opportunities. We aim for 50 youth to gain employment and 6 partnerships to be formed to prepare youth for the workforce. Finally, success will be measured by our ability to ensure that youth are swiftly and sustainably exited from the streets through the provision of stable housing options. With support from LA 2050, we propose to house at minimum 100 youth over a 12-month period.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
SPY measures success by our ability to support youth toward self-identified goals, in housing, employment, education, and physical and mental health. Data is captured through: * Baseline Intake, including housing status, education and employment history, mental health needs, and personal development * Monthly Status Updates * Weekly Program Utilization and Referrals: numbers engaged, placed into housing, employed, enrolled in school, etc. We also measure our success with qualitative stories, like Meta's. Meta came to SPY while he was experiencing homelessness. While working with his Case Manager to find housing, he connected with our Healing Arts Program, and particularly enjoyed Wire Wrapping Sculpture, taught by one of our volunteers. After attending several workshops, Meta became skilled enough to lead sessions himself. He is now part of the Healing Arts staff, helping other youth experiencing homelessness to use arts to reduce stress and gain self-confidence.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 400
Indirect Impact: 3,600