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

Source-to-Sea: The LA River And Me

Source-to-Sea offers K-12 students access to immersive standards-based STEM education with experiential learning experiences across four touchpoints. Priority is given to schools with the highest % of low-income students (measured by % eligible for FRPM) - a group historically under-represented in STEM. We provide in-class curriculum, a visit from our River Rover mobile-education center, and an interactive field trip to the LA River to focus students on the interconnectivity of our urban ecosystem and the possibilities of various STEM careers.


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?

Central LA

East LA

San Fernando Valley

South 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?

The LA River watershed covers over 800sq miles of the most densely populated, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse region in the US. Nearly all wetlands and riparian habitat in the watershed are lost. Of key concern is disparity of access and use of open space and natural areas by low-income communities and economic paths for reversing the disparity. Linking youth to the environment for the benefit of wildlife, people, and natural areas that remain is essential. Access to nature is a well-established determinant of health, yet research suggests low-income and communities of color have less access to parks and natural spaces. A 2023 study found that increased park and nature access could improve health equity in these communities. Our immersive environmental education addresses the gap and develops analytical and collaborative skills. Preparing students for STEM careers increases their agency in the river's rejuvenation, leading to a healthier ecosystem and healthier communities.

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

The free Source to Sea watershed program consists of 2 in-class lessons conducted by schoolteachers, a school visit by the River Rover mobile museum, and a hands-on LA River field trip. Students learn about the River's past, present, and possible future and how proposed projects will improve public and ecosystem health. Designed in alignment with CA Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards linked to STEM education:- Teacher Orientation: Receive and learn how to deliver program materials- Classroom Lesson: The History of the LA River- River Rover: Students compare states of the River and study: biodiversity & the riparian ecosystem, human impact on our ecosystem, Interconnected relationships, a 3D interactive River watershed, water conservation & management, a future of the River at a design table, the connection between the environment and public health- Classroom Lesson: Biodiversity: The Interconnectedness Between Living and Nonliving Things- LA River Field Trip: 3 interactive stations: Nature Walk: look for birds, observe their surroundings, and reflect on how nature impacts our health w/binoculars and field guides, Macroinvertebrate Water Quality Lab: Collect water samples of indicator species and implement the scientific process to determine ecosystem health, Engineering a Water Filtration System: After learning about stormwater and pollution, they collaboratively create 3D prototypes of a filtration system and present to the class

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

We envision equitably-increased access to natural spaces and generations of students transforming the 51-mile River into a dynamic, functioning ecosystem that reduces flood risk, cleans the air, cools temperatures, and supports the biodiversity essential to our collective wellbeing. We see this every day in the people discovering that the river is a place of refuge creating park-rich neighborhoods, in our children who excitedly share what they've learned on their river field trips with their parents, and in our Fellows: immersed in river ecology, building a brighter future for our county. Source to Sea could expand beyond our record-breaking 5,500 students in a school year and be actively present in every region in the county. As teachers say, "The lessons and activities really tie-in to science, engineering and social studies also reminded students that they can make a difference."

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

Students take pre and post assessments to measure these short-term outcomes: Positive perceptions of nature Understanding of environmental concepts and climate literacy Understanding of the physical and mental health benefits of nature Increase in social-emotional learning skills Increased agency over environmental and civic action Needs assessments indicated 81% of students had never been to the River. Post-survey data shows 78% agree or strongly agree nature is important for their health and 100% of teachers would return. A longitudinal study could follow a student cohort across a decade measuring impacts on: Personal Connection to the River; the connection between a healthy River and public health Action-Oriented Civic Engagement; taking action on climate change, biodiversity loss, and the various threats to the River's future Future Generations of Deeply Committed Environmental Stewards; living in harmony with nature, and advocating for it throughout life.

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

Direct Impact: 1,400

Indirect Impact: 2,800