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

Workforce development for system-impacted Angelenos

Through immersive learning, real-world work experience, and a network of supportive professional mentors, ManifestWorks connects those impacted by foster care, homelessness and incarceration with job training and job placement in Hollywood film, commercial and TV production and provides ongoing life (therapy, financial literacy and life skills support) and professional skills (ongoing job training and placement) to support long-term success and wealth acquisition.


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

Income Inequality

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

Antelope Valley

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?

ManifestWorks was born from an understanding that those impacted by foster care, incarceration and homelessness are often blocked from the very opportunities that could help them escape the long-term impacts of system involvement and generational poverty. Our earliest champions were connected by decades advocating for foster and justice-involved children, and united in their advocacy for those locked up in California prisons. Finding opportunity and a way to sidestep the steep barriers to a healthy future was the original vision of ManifestWorks. Since 2014, we have found the cycles of institutionalization can be overcome with access to living-wage jobs, meaningful mentorships, and a robust, supportive network that allows alumni to bring their best to work. To date, ManifestWorks has connected hundreds of alumni to living-wage careers, seeded thousands of freelance jobs and as many relationships for sustaining employment.

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

Our workforce-development organization creates a direct pathway to living-wage jobs for those impacted by foster care, incarceration, and homelessness. We know living-wage jobs transform lives profoundly, but the barriers to employment for our participants make finding a job - even a low-paying one - insurmountable without the intervention we provide. Well-paying jobs with upward mobility have immediate and transformative impacts on our participants, their families and their communities. Those completing ManifestWorks see their wages rise an average of 400 percent within one year of being accepted. We see dramatic reductions in the reliance on public benefits of all kinds, and we see significant markers to demonstrate wealth acquisition, measured around access to banking, increased savings and improved levels of home ownership, all information demonstrated against baseline surveys collected by applicants. Significantly, none of our active alumni have ever returned to prison.

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

ManifestWorks' workforce model has demonstrated extraordinary success, and we believe we can scale programming to serve more people while maintaining our impact. There is no question the employment problems facing those returning from prison, living in homelessness and for opportunity youth are more dire than ever. ManifestWorks' ability to move our alumni into living-wage employment will impact individuals, families and communities. Not only will we help cut reliance reliance on welfare and move people out of poverty, but we actively help build wealth to create generational opportunities. Our curriculum includes extensive financial literacy instruction and a new program makes all alumni eligible for a savings and investment class where we will match $1,000 of habitual alumni savings with stock market investment account designed for habitual investments, connecting alumni to passive wealth acquisition. Our next program will focus on helping alumni move towards real estate acquisition.

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 logic model explains the key ways our program is designed to impact those we serve, and for ManifestWorks as a whole, we define success very specifically: wage gains that are ascendent over time; career or professional growth (increased union membership or upward career mobility); decreased reliance on public benefits; zero recidivism; and increased wealth as measured by access to banking; increased savings and holding passive wealth generators (stock portfolio, home ownership, etc.). Additionally we track qualitative data: community engagement, health, as well as feelings about life and career prospects, contributions to family and well-being. We collect extensive data from all applicants and have done so since our inception. For all graduates, we collect follow up data annually, where we measure programs against our success metrics. Graduates are tracked annually, indefinitely.

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

Direct Impact: 100

Indirect Impact: 400