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

Uni(verse) interactive youth poetry platform

Uni(verse) is Get Lit's revolutionary hybrid learning system that fuses education, technology, and media, centered on youth voices. Featuring our proven, award-winning Spoken Word curriculum including an annually-updated digital Anthology of thousands of poems, Uni(verse) gives teachers and students powerful tools to elevate learning and literacy levels, and provides an inspiring path to social-emotional learning combined with training in 21st century life and workplace skills of communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.


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?

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?

The combined crises of inequities in literacy education compounded by the youth loneliness epidemic are equally as urgent and critical as hunger, homelessness, or clean water. For our youth, this is literally a matter of life and death. According to a new CDC study, the U.S. is experiencing an extreme teen mental-health crisis with the highest levels of teen sadness and suicidality ever recorded. This catastrophic epidemic is intertwined with the failure of our standard approach to literacy, especially for students of color, and the pandemic's traumatic effect on students. Post-pandemic reading scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicate a decline of 30% for all students. These statistics translate into greater struggles in school, lower graduation rates, a higher likelihood of incarceration, and generally bleaker futures. These compounded crises will impact youth for generations to come unless we act now.

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

Our project is the broad release of our pioneering platform Uni(verse) for all middle and high school students in L.A. County. In response to the urgent educational and social/emotional needs of youth described above, we created this revolutionary hybrid learning system that fuses education, technology, media and community. Uni(verse) is delivered in tandem with in-person or online real-time certificated teacher instruction. Schools upload Uni(verse) software into their learning management systems (LMS) allowing students to access our full interactive curricula. Within Uni(verse), students write poetry, track revisions, publish their work, and upload performance videos. The platform engages students with exciting video modules featuring Get Lit alumnae youth, easy-to-navigate lessons, access to internationally-known poets, a rights-approved, searchable Anthology, and virtual collaborations between geographically diverse classrooms. Through Get Lit's Scoremetrics scoring system, students receive precise feedback based on instructional rubrics, both from teachers and peer-to-peer, to track growth in writing, performing, and emotional connection to the material. This process helps students develop close listening skills, engages students kinesthetically, significantly bolsters social-emotional learning, and builds strong writers. In addition, the program is structured to easily flip to remote learning in the event of another pandemic or other crisis.

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

Uni(verse) will significantly impact the mental-health and loneliness crisis, transform literacy education, re-engage L.A. students, and create a space to integrate and process emotions. It will enable us to reach the greatest number and widest socio-economic strata of youth with our life-changing services, especially remote classrooms that have little access to the arts. Uni(verse) will give teachers and students throughout L.A. powerful tools to elevate learning and literacy levels, and an inspiring path to social-emotional learning, communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. This platform brings technology usually reserved for STEM classes into the arts and creates a network of youth that share poems, collaborate, and communicate about issues that matter in their daily lives. Its rigorous and inspiring curricula deliver the highest level of reading and writing instruction and support, incorporating social/emotional components and a game-like visual aesthetic.

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

Our goals for 2023-24 are for Uni(verse) to be successfully implemented in 100 L.A. schools, growing our service reach by 15,000 students. Uni(verse) has been beta tested by LAUSD schools and approved for Unified Digital Instructional Procurement Plan (UDIPP) requirements. 100 teachers received training on the platform at our 2022 Poetic Convergence conference. We passed a competitive RFP to become 1 of 8 vendors approved as a Digital Content Provider for LAUSD. During Spring and Summer 2023, Uni(verse) is being utilized in 20 LAUSD schools, free of charge. Moving forward, schools will pay an affordable annual subscription on a sliding scale, with any shortfalls covered by grants from our long term funders. In early 2024, we will hire an independent researcher to evaluate Uni(verse) using a rigorous Tier 2 research model that will measure student literacy before and after our courses, gathering data on changes in student engagement, empathy, analytical skills, and self-expression.

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

Direct Impact: 15,000

Indirect Impact: 100,000