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

The Peoples' Workshop: Building New Futures

Idea by Would-Works

Peoples' Workshop hosts introductory workshops, free to the unhoused (includes justice-impacted, veterans, transitional age youth) and the community. We provide enrichment in the craft of woodworking, in a safe space - a respite from stressful lives - where participants can process their challenges creatively, identify skills they may not know they had, and do hands-on activities that are calm and centering. Our goal is that participants will gain insight into what woodworking is, and want to join our regular job training program.


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

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by the Snap Foundation)

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

Central LA

East LA

South LA

City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Situated in the heart of LA's garment district, blocks from Skid Row, WW serves unhoused people from some of the city's lowest- scoring HPI neighborhoods. In 2023, the LA Homeless Services Authority recorded over 12,500 people living on LA's streets. 46% of unsheltered individuals in LA county cite unemployment as a primary cause of their homelessness; approximately half reported they are actively looking for work. Despite their efforts, unhoused folks face multiple barriers to attaining sufficient employment, including: systemic racism and discrimination if employers require a permanent address; they may be justice impacted, have mental or physical health challenges; they may need support and time to build skills in order to qualify for jobs they are interested in. Our unhoused communities often lack safe spaces where they can build the confidence and skills that help an individual thrive and be a productive part of a fruitful community.

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

The Peoples' Workshop is a pilot initiative to formalize occasional off-site workshops into a series of regularly-scheduled events, provide participants with safe spaces to build confidence and new skills, and attract more community members to join WW's' formal training programs (Beginner's Builders - 6 months, and Community Builders -12 months). Outputs The Peoples' Workshop will: -Host up to 8 participants at WW at approx 20 workshops taught by WW Leaders and Artisan Lead (bi-monthly). -Run 10-20 workshops to broaden our reach, serving additional communities via partnerships with orgs including The People Concern's Studio 526 (community arts platform, LA's Skid Row neighborhood), and Linc Housing's The Palace (residential and community development for Transitional Age Youth). -Run approx 3-6 workshops at partner sites/events including: Annual Skid Row Festival for All Artists, workforce fairs hosted by LA JCOD and WalkUnited. Outcomes Participants will: -Experience respite from challenging life circumstances -Learn to process challenges via creative, hands-on activity -Identify new skills -Gain confidence that can lead to viable employment -Become part of a safe, compassionate and creative community "Would Works was so much more than I expected it to be. I felt like I was part of a family. I learned so much more than wood work- I learned work ethics, responsibility, accountability, and preparation for re-entry into the workforce." -Glasha, 2019 Artisan

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

"There is an association between improvements in work skills and improvements in self-esteem and self-efficacy, which then predict(s) stable housing situations." (Nelson et al., 2012) The aim of Peoples' Workshop is to be part of this process. Homelessness can make change feel impossible and barriers insurmountable, yet when someone engages in the process of making, change is literally at their fingertips. Our Artisans are deeply impacted by this transformative experience, and material transformation applies on both individual and societal levels. WW is a pathway into a field that may not have been available to some before: WW staff is all women/non-binary and primarily BIPOC, creating a supportive space for all to excel in a craft that is cis male-dominated. Outcomes from our programs become part of LA's larger efforts towards building healthy, inclusive communities. We will serve 300 participants in 2023-2024. We are working to share and scale this model to broaden future impact.

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

Impact will be measured via: -Tracking the number of participants that complete the workshops and then decide to enroll in WW's two longer-term training programs. - Tracking personal outcomes via in-person conversations during or at the end of each workshop. Questions to shape these conversations include: Did you learn new skills? Did you feel a sense of accomplishment? Did you feel a sense of community? If so, why? We feel that every person engaged in the creative process is a success story. There are many barriers to job retention for people experiencing homelessness and it is sometimes the person who doesn't go on to get the next job, or isn't able to finish our program, who has been most positively impacted by it. For this reason we collect personal narratives to understand how Would Works supports community engagement, fights social isolation, and builds life and social skills. All results will be shared with staff, toward improving and scaling this pilot program.

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

Direct Impact: 300

Indirect Impact: