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

On To Higher Pathways

Higher Pathways - Advancing Education, Fostering Economic Opportunities and Building Careers for Black and Brown Youth is a project in direct response to the pressing need for Black and Brown youth to attain progress toward college persistence, career readiness and development with opportunities for economic growth.


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?

There is a high need for improved education attainment for Opportunity Youth, particularly Black and Latino men, who face barriers to college and job access at disproportionate rates. "Opportunity youth are disproportionately youth of color, live in low-income neighborhoods and face important barriers to job access such as disconnections and labor market discrimination" (Opportunity Youth in the City of Los Angeles, Sol Price Center for Innovation, 2017). In 2017, it was estimated that there are 73,000 Opportunity Youth in Los Angeles, which represent 13.7 percent of the total Los Angeles youth between ages 16 and 24. Black youth account for the second largest share of opportunity youth, or about 14 percent, or 10,000 in total. Furthermore, Los Angeles Opportunity Youth are concentrated in the areas of South LA, Downtown LA, San Fernando Valley, and Antelope Valley. Recognizing a correlation between educational access and economic opportunity, SJLI works to address these disparities.

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

The Social Justice Learning Institute proposes to implement Higher Pathways in direct response to the pressing need for our Black and Brown alumni to attain progress toward achieving educational, career and economic growth. Research studies indicate the direct link between educational attainment, economic opportunity, and wealth building. "Education reduces poverty, boosts economic growth and increases income. Lack of access to education is one of the most certain ways of transmitting poverty from generation to generation" ("The Benefits of Education", Global Partnership for Education website). In California, obtaining a high-school diploma reduces the chance of incarceration by 87% (Life course Framework, Forward Change Consulting, 2018). Higher Pathways complements the 18-25 year old population of opportunity youth and consists of 3 parallel tracks - (1) College Pathway to Success (2) Career Readiness and (3) Supportive Services. College Pathway to Success is an educational attainment track that begins with the Urban Scholars program for high school students and continues with college access and persistence. The Career Readiness track comprises workforce skill development, internship/externships/part-time employment, and entrepreneurial exploration. Lastly, Supportive Services provides wrap-around counseling sessions to ensure positive, healthy engagement with their experience, as well as access to additional resources as needed for unforeseen incidents or emergencies.

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

The primary goal of Higher Pathways is to develop a strong cadre of young Black and Latino men who will progress through a conscientious and methodological series of academic counseling, skills building, and resources leading toward educational attainment and greater economic opportunity. The overarching goal is a 95% college graduation rate of all alumni. SJLI will work to incorporate rigorous academic training, and college preparation and career readiness activities to ensure that the 80 participants achieve the following outcomes: (1) Persist through college; (2) Build relationships and resources for internship/externship opportunities and/or entrepreneurial pursuits; (3) Graduate from college with an identified career pathway; (4) Become critical leaders capable of knowledge transfer to other incoming alumni; and (5) Transition to adulthood with the knowledge, skills and resources to advance economic opportunity for themselves and their greater community.

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

SJLI is a data-driven organization that values assessment and evaluation. SJLI's program designs are evidence-based and research-based and rely on community best-practices. The SJLI team utilizes Asana online software to plan, track and assign tasks and implement projects. SJLI also uses Apricot Social Solutions as its data software system and has customized more than 80 indicators that measure program outcomes and objectives. Our program effectiveness and success indicators are measured using a robust system of assessments, which also include process, formative and summative evaluations. Our team members also interact with our youth on an academic, socio-emotional, and personal level. SJLI combines an anti-deficit approach with a post-traumatic growth model. The results are young people who are more capable of moving through the world in a positive frame of mind with increased capacity to make positive changes in their own lives and achieve their academic and personal goals.

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

Direct Impact: 80

Indirect Impact: 640