2023 Grants Challenge

POPeretta! - A No-Cost Afterschool Art Program

Through support from a LA2050 grant, Pacific Opera Project (POP) will launch POPeretta!, a no-cost summer and after-school opera creators program for low-income youth running from July 2023 through December 2024. The program is designed to enhance literacy and social-emotional learning through opera and music. POPeretta! will create a safe and inclusive musical learning space where 3rd-12th grade children will build lifelong skills and reduce summer learning loss.


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

K-12 STEAM Education

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

East LA

County of Los Angeles

City 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?

Pacific Opera Project's POPeretta! program aims to solve the issue of diminishing and inequitable arts and music enrichment for youth in Los Angeles, California. This generation of youth faces some of the greatest challenges in U.S. history, including poverty, low literacy, struggles in their mental health, and community safety issues. According to the State of California, only one in every five California public schools offers a full-time arts or music program. In the last decade, arts and music programming has become non-essential in the eyes of most public school districts, when they are faced with state-wide budget cuts and the prioritization of standardized testing. Children who are regularly exposed to art perform better in literacy, math, and speech, and also develop better critical thinking skills. These children are more confident, have higher self-esteem, and show empathy when interacting with their peers. This makes afterschool art programming essential to today's youth.

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

Pacific Opera Project aims to create artistic solutions that boost the wellness of low-income youth, by increasing free art access afterschool. To achieve this goal, our organization has created the POPeretta! Afterschool and Summer Program. POPeretta! provides skills in literacy, art, music, and social-emotional learning, in a safe and healthy environment. It uses art to help children heal, better understand themselves and others, and provide a creative outlet for expressing emotions and processing complex life-experiences. The POPeretta! curriculum serves all 3rd-12th grade children, regardless of their prior exposure to art or classical music. This program will serve roughly 650 youth members in summer and after-school programs from July 2023 to July 2024. POPeretta! will be implemented in schools, afterschool centers, virtual classrooms, and Pacific Opera Project's studio, The POPera Shop. Developing a program that is both flexible and mobile allows for a larger impact in the number of youth served. POPeretta! can be easily modified to fit the needs of any out-of-school program while still meeting the California Department of Education Standards. Pacific Opera Project provides all program materials, supplies, and staff. Through support from an LA2050 grant, the POPeretta! Afterschool and Summer Program will be cost-free to participants, so that no child, regardless of household income, will be excluded from participating in high-quality art education.

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

POPeretta!'s vision for successful outcomes includes our participants' ability to process and problem-solve personal conflicts through the use of music, as well as stage character development. In POPeretta!, youth participants write and direct their own opera scenes, based on real-life conflicts they face. This scene is then showcased in a final performance for the students' mentors, teachers, family members, and peers. Showcasing their artistic works on stage provides a secondary source for community healing, understanding, and celebration. POPeretta! includes ample opportunities for program evaluation and outcome measurement. This includes focus group discussions and surveys from program instructors and administrators. POP intends to expand the program in 2025, with a goal to serve 1,000 children. Featuring the students' work in professional theater settings for larger audiences will create more empathy, celebration, and understanding of the lives of Los Angeles youth, globally.

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

POPeretta! is in it's pilot year, and the project includes ample opportunities to measure success and program outcomes. This includes focus group discussions and written surveys for youth program administrators and parents. However, the most essential outcomes will be demonstrated in each participant's final project. Throughout the eight weeks of POPeretta!, participants will create a character in an opera inspired by their real life stories. This creative process is similar to that of both early and modern-day opera creators. Each child will develop a libretto (song lyrics) and production designs to showcase in a live performance featuring professional opera singers. Instructors will measure artistic development weekly and will evaluate the final presentation when it comes to fruition on stage. Program instructors will serve as mentors to facilitate opportunities for feedback (including peer-to-peer feedback) throughout the program's eight weeks.

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

Direct Impact: 700

Indirect Impact: 2,500