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

The Actors' Gang Alumni Advocacy Project

The Actors' Gang Alumni Advocacy Project (TAGAAP) was launched as a pilot program of The Actors' Gang Prison Project (TAGPP) in 2018 to empower formerly incarcerated people through the arts by providing support, training, resources, mentorship, artistic exploration and a network to ensure successful reentry as they return home. They often face disrupted family and social networks due to mass incarceration. TAGAAP provides a safe space to express feelings and heal trauma while proving social-emotional tools that can be used in daily life.


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

Opportunities for People Who Have Been Incarcerated

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

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

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?

In California, almost 200,000 people - disproportionately BIPOC - are behind bars. Approximately 10,000 individuals are released from prison annually into Los Angeles County. There is a high recidivism rate among those who are released because little has been done to address the core systemic issues of mass incarceration or provide for a supportive reentry into the community. Formerly incarcerated people often face challenges in finding employment, housing, navigating the Parole system, social integration and little or no access to the arts. They can slip into desperate and risky behaviors which lands them back in prison. And so, the cycle continues. Until systemic changes are made to eliminate mass incarceration, TAGAAP will help those returning to the community. This program meets people where they are and provides a safe space for them to recognize and experience their emotions and build community together.

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

Returning citizens need a consistent, supportive network and a safe space to express feelings and ask for help. The alumni gather for weekly workshops where they practice a 16th century Italian art form, Commedia dell'Arte - the "Style", where emotional states (happy, sad, afraid and angry) and the 14 archetypal characters are explored. Currently, TAGAAP is limited to previous participants of the program. With LA2050 funding, TAGAAP will expand programming and opportunities to any formerly incarcerated person in Los Angeles County to participate in weekly workshops and monthly Council Circles and join the alumni network. The alumni informally help each other navigate Parole, modern systems like bank accounts, technology, DMV and relationships. They also help each other secure employment and housing. TAGPP's staff offers guidance and assistance to alumni for career and business development. Those who receive support are less likely to fall into destructive old habits. The recidivism rate in California is approximately 62%; it is 10% among TAGAPP alumni. TAGPP has trained and employed alumni; three are in full-time staff positions; a total of 27 alumni have been trained and hired as Teaching Artists (TAs); 18 are still active. Others have secured work in the creative economy: two are Production Assistants, two are union Grips and four are TAs with other organizations. Two alumni have started their own non-profit organizations to give back to the community.

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

For 17 years, TAGPP has worked with incarcerated and returning adults and youth, has a proven track record of success and is supported and respected throughout the Nation by government agencies and other non-profits who work in this space. If more returning citizens participate in TAGAAP, there will be less recidivism, increased employment opportunities and safer communities. As more people return home, TAGAAP must have the capacity and resources to provide a safe space and opportunities for growth as individuals, as family members and productive community members. The expansion of TAGAAP relies on adding alumni as staff and TAs for success. This model works because the alumni are invested in the process and outcomes. The 57 TAGAAP network members contribute to and strengthen the greater Los Angeles 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?

TAGPP has been working with Leap and Associates at UCLA developing a longitudinal study. Year 3 evaluation was conducted in January 2020 and sought to examine the recently developed TAGAAP. The study links the success of TAGAAP to continued success in the community and quality of life. Interviewees stated that participation in TAGAAP provided them with a variety of benefits, including feelings of connection and support; enhanced interpersonal skills; a sense of pride in their accomplishments; and easier transitions after release. Noted supportive factors attributed specifically to the Alumni Network were informational; TAGAAP Staff and participants feeling like friends and family; feelings of belonging and acceptance; and positive influences that keep Alumni out of trouble; staff efforts to make the program accessible; frequent and effective communication practices; instances of advocacy and support for individual alumni members and humanizing treatment of TAGAAP members.

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

Direct Impact: 70

Indirect Impact: 7,000