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

Supporting first-generation college student career success

For over a decade, America Needs You (ANY) has provided transformative mentorship and intensive career development programming to thousands of low-income first-generation college students across the US, improving economic outcomes for the students, their families, and their communities. If awarded, funds will be used to grow our local impact in Los Angeles to recruit and enroll 100 more first-generation college students and provide them with mentoring, innovative career readiness training, professional networking, and student-centered services


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

Income Inequality

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?

First-generation college students comprise 1/3 of today's college going population (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). Even so, only 21% of low-income, first-generation college students receive bachelor's degrees within 6 years of enrolling in college (The Pell Institute, 2021). With economic empowerment and mobility tied closely to one's education level, supporting these students through college and first-time careers is now more critical than ever. Today's colleges have limited resources to help students build career competencies, with a national median ratio of students to career staff of more than 1,500:1 (NACE, 2020). In a survey of recent graduates, 50 percent said they hadn't applied for entry-level positions in their field because they felt they were unqualified (Cengage, 2021). For first-generation college students, these service gaps result in a median household income 27 percent lower than their peers with college-educated parents (Pew Research, 2021).

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

ANY's mission - to fight for economic mobility for ambitious first-generation college students - is achieved through transformative mentorship and intensive career development programming, ensuring our students complete their degrees and secure meaningful employment with competitive wages. During the grant period, ANY will recruit and enroll 100 low-income, first-generation college students from Los Angeles County into our flagship Fellows Program, deeply impacting their lives. This model will provide over 150 in-person hours of career development training, individualized internship planning and placement, and 1:1 mentorship over two years. We take an asset-based approach to student success, pairing career exploration with student strengths. We actively seek feedback from our students and volunteers about the program's content and what is most useful for their success, centering their experience in program design. We cover topics often excluded from career development, including authenticity in the workplace and navigating unwritten rules in addition to the foundational skills of resumes, cover letters, and interviewing. "ANY has been so instrumental for my professional career development. What I personally love about America Needs You is the bond that I've created with other Fellows because we all have the same goal as first-generation college students - we want to break barriers and defy all odds against us." Anik, Fellow

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

LA is home to a significant population of low-income, first-generation college students. Upon completion of our program, household incomes double (from $30K per household to $60K per graduate). In just one program cycle, we see significant strides in intergenerational poverty alleviation. But our mission of economic mobility doesn't end with a first job - we know that students with competitive starting salaries go on to earn more over their lifetimes and reinvest in the communities. As we scale our impact in LA, we will grow from 100 new students in the grant cycle to over 200 over the next 2 years. We will embark on a 5-year strategic plan this fall and anticipate LA County to have the potential to be our largest impact market serving a minimum of 500 unique students over the next 5 years. "With the money my sister and I earned from summer internships, we were able to put a down payment on a house, moving our 5 person family out of a one-bedroom apartment." Kaching, Fellow Alum

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

ANY is a data-focused organization, we use quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the program's content, delivery, and mentoring relationships. We also assess the Fellows' performance during their internships compared to their peers and analyze the long-term effects, such as graduation and employment rates. ANY's program impact in 2022 included: 90+% of Fellows secured a career trajectory internship. 90+% college persistence 95+% graduated from four-year institutions within 6 years 80% secured full-time employment or were enrolled in graduate school within 6 months of graduation. Compared to other interns, 80+% of internship supervisors rate ANY Fellows above average in hard and soft skills, such as giving and receiving feedback, working in teams, and managing and taking the initiative. ANY Fellows securing full-time employment six months after college graduation earn an average of over $60K annually.

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

Direct Impact: 100

Indirect Impact: 550