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

YouthSource: Securing Economic Advancement through Education

In partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District and the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department, Para Los Ninos (PLN) YouthSource Centers reengage low-income, BIPOC youth in school and the workforce to set them on a path to economic independence and sustainability. With support from LA2050, PLN will provide Angelenos ages 14 to 24 with comprehensive academic and occupational supports, focusing on drop-out recovery and prevention, college access, and vocational training.


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

Youth Economic Advancement (sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation)

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

Central LA

East LA

City 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?

Economic advancement for youth depends directly on educational attainment. Median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers in the U.S. increase in tandem with education. In 2022, workers without a high school diploma earned $682; while workers with a high school diploma earned $853; and workers with a bachelor's degree earned $1,432. At the same time, unemployment rates are inversely proportionate to education-in 2022, 5.5% of individuals without a high school diploma were unemployed; while 4% of individuals with a high school diploma were unemployed; and 2.2% of individuals without a bachelor's degree were unemployed. In Los Angeles, the rate and number of disconnected youth has increased significantly since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, 12.9% of 16 to 24-year-olds living in L.A. County were not engaged in school or the workforce. Young Angelenos need support to reverse rising rates of disconnection and secure opportunities for economic advancement.

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

In partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD), Para Los Ninos (PLN) operates two YouthSource Centers-one in Central L.A. and one in Northeast L.A.-for low-income Angelenos ages 16 to 24. Through YouthSource, PLN empowers young adults to embark on diverse paths to economic independence and sustainability, thereby breaking cycles of generational poverty and inequity. In particular, the YouthSource program provides disconnected youth with dropout prevention and recovery services to help students earn a high school diploma or equivalent credential and enter post-secondary education or the workforce. PLN college and career advisors help students develop academic plans that chart a course to their educational goals, from improving their grades and completing high school to enrolling in trade school, community college, or a four-year university. At the same time, PLN college and career advisors promote young adults' professional development through career counseling; workforce readiness training, resume building workshops, and practice interviews; job, internship, and apprenticeship placement; and professional mentorship. YouthSource participants receive a combination of classroom instruction and real-word experience-underpinned by support services to address mental health, transportation, housing insecurity, and food instability-to promote economic advancement.

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

PLN's YouthSource program sets low-income, BIPOC youth on a path to living wage jobs with opportunities for career development. Each year, the rate and number of disconnected youth in Los Angeles County will shrink as traditionally underserved young adults-including youth involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, youth experiencing homelessness, and parenting youth-achieve financial independence and stability. Through YouthSource, young adults will change the landscape of Los Angeles: strengthening families by helping them attain economic sustainability, strengthening the labor market by filling it with diverse, well-trained workers; and strengthening society by reducing income inequality across ages and races.

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

PLN measures the YouthSource program's effectiveness through standardized assessments that track academic and occupational interests, aptitudes, and skills in addition to the need for support services to address mental health, transportation, and food and housing insecurity. Assessment results are used to create program goals and individual service strategies (ISSs). Progress against goals is tracked during weekly meetings between youth and college and career advisors. In addition, enrollment numbers, participant milestones, and program outcomes are reported to the City of Los Angeles EWDD via CalJobs. In April, the city conducted its annual evaluation of PLN's YouthSource program; both PLN YouthSource Centers received four out of four stars, exceeding expectations for federal performance outcomes in addition to local measures of customer satisfaction, customer flow (i.e., enrollment), and administrative capability.

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

Direct Impact: 1,300

Indirect Impact: 2,800