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

Providing LGBTQ+ Youth Emotional Safety Through Mentoring

Idea by Rainbow Labs

Utilizing the protector factors of caring adults as mentors to support the emotional safety of LGBTQ+ youth, funding will support the expansion of our mentoring labs. Over one year, we'll engage 100 LGBTQ+ youth in four labs - Storytelling, Accelerator, and Youth Council. Youth will meet weekly with their peers and mentors for formal and informal mentoring activities. Mentors will also build individual and uniquely identified support for their mentees in informal one-on-one time.


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

Community Safety

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?

LGBTQ+ youth face an emotional and physical safety crisis. A CDC 2021 report on teen mental health states that 20% of LGB students report physical abuse by a parent or other adult at home. The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that LGBTQ+ high school students reported being bullied on school property (32%) and cyberbullied (26.6%.) Trevor Project found that 39% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. With over 10% of youth in California schools identifying as LGBTQ+ (58,000 in Los Angeles Unified), these numbers are startling. Typically, youth mentoring programs protect against these factors, but there is a significant gap for LGBTQ+ youth. MENTOR National, a national mentoring organization, states for every 5,000 youth mentoring programs, only five focus on LGBTQ+ youth. A recent report by MENTOR suggests mentoring relationships could reduce feelings of distress among LGBTQ+ youth while supporting improvements in their peer and family relationships.

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

Funds will support our Storytelling and Accelerator Labs (a series of two eight-week programs) and our Youth Council Program (nine-month program) from October 2023 to September 2024, reaching 100 LGBTQ+ youth, mostly youth of color, across Los Angeles County We built these programs from consistent feedback from youth across our programs over the last three years. Results of our survey state that 92% of youth felt the program was a safe space, and 95% said the program helped them understand their identity. One youth said, "I got to hear older queer people's experiences and thoughts, and it gave me comfort knowing that things can go well and you can get that far in life while being queer." Our first program, Storytelling Lab, guides youth through identity and self-exploration workshops with real-world applications to their stories. We pair youth in groups with LGBTQ+ adult mentors who provide group and one-on-one mentoring to support. Our second program, Accelerator Lab, challenges LGBTQ+ youth to create their business ideas in teams and pitch them to LGBTQ+ professionals in a final Demo Day showcase supported by LGBTQ+ adult mentors. Our third program, Youth Council, supports the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth through leadership workshops, financial literacy, and career education over nine months with individual mentors. Programmatic data will support the continued expansion of our programs toward our goal of reaching 1,000 LGBTQ+ youth annually by 2026.

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

Mentors are life-changing, especially for LGBTQ+ youth who do not have near as much access to mentors as other youth. In Los Angeles, for LGBTQ+ youth, finding a mentoring program aligns with their needs. Also, they battle the other typical program access challenges, such as transportation, time, and cost. We envision a Los Angeles where LGBTQ+ youth feel supported, safe, and empowered. No LGBTQ+ youth will face dropping out of school or feeling isolated because of who they are. Our program will eliminate those challenges and increase access to mentoring for LGBTQ+ youth. LGBTQ+ youth will move on from our program graduating high school and college, forming deep relationships with their peers, and building the next new world-changing business In this grant year, we will reach 100 youth and engage 25 LGBTQ+ adult mentors. By 2026, we plan to engage 1,000 youth annually.

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

This program is an expansion building on the success of all our work over the three years. We successfully ran each of these proposed programming labs from 2021 - 2023. We're now expanding the foundation of our success where we go from a series of programs to an after-school program. Program goals include: (1) Build positive mentor/mentee relationships; (2) Build positive peer relationships; and (3) Provide an environment for LGBTQ+ youth that is safe and inclusive. We'll conduct a post-program survey with youth and mentors to measure these goals. We anticipate the following outcomes: - 90% of mentees report having a positive relationship with their mentor at the end of the program - 90% of mentors report having a positive relationship with their mentee(s) at the end of the program - 90% of youth participants report that they enjoyed connecting to other young people in the queer community - 90% of youth participants report that the program was a safe space for them

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

Direct Impact: 125

Indirect Impact: 125