Los Angeles Communities Advocating for Unity, Social Justice and Action, Inc.

LA CAUSA has successfully begun to grow gardens at Humphreys Elementary and Eastman Elementary. These gardens have served to host mentor/mentee events and has engaged a number of community youth and elementary school children. Through the California Endowment, LA CAUSA has also helped corner stores in Boyle Heights change their appearance and products to offer healthier foods, including more fruits and vegetables. The corner stores receiving this attention are those surrounding poor-performing elementary schools in Boyle Heights. Recently, San Gabriel Conservation Core and LA CAUSA have been discussing a partnership to grow a community farm that would feed families in need of healthier food options.


2 Submitted Ideas

  • 2013 Grants Challenge

    Young people want to feel safe too

    "Fear is very real in the lives of children from hard places. In fact, fear often ‘bullies’ our children into much of their misbehavior. As a result, it is critical that parents of children from hard places approach fear and fear-driven behaviors with compassion, insight and wisdom." - Dr. Karyn Purvis Youth do not feel safe anymore in the streets or anywhere outside of their community. Often times they do not feel safe in their community. One of the key issues is the distrust between youth and law enforcement. The contacts between the two entities are often negative or for enforcement purposes only leaving our youth feeling disfranchised not just by gangs, bullies, or antagonists, but by the very system designed to protect them. Oftentimes, this negative interaction stays with youth and they lose faith in law enforcement. Whether the reasoning is correct or not, a greater trust must be forged by youth and public safety and that includes increased education for both entities. Youth must be empowered, educated, and entertained as they seek to learn about law enforcement and the role it can and should play in their lives. Furthermore, a bridge must be established with law enforcement where they embrace the youth of Los Angeles as a resource. Our program will seek to educate the youth through education and the use of interactive software designed empower youth on their rights, as well promote discourse with law enforcement agencies. This program will encourage youth to become involved in youth advisory councils that are in place in their communities and help in the design of a community youth program that LA CAUSA is designing to encourage peer leadership to reduce crime, increase accountability, increase communication between the public and law enforcement entities including parents, peers, community, police, sheriffs, city and district attorneys, and the courts. The program will teach youth the law and increase their understanding of its role in their lives, how to react to law enforcement contacts, the criminal justice system process so that the youth understands how it can help them, and finally to become vocal members of the community to increase community participation in a restorative justice program that LA CAUSA YouthBuild is creating. It has been proven through many different studies that a restorative justice model will work in any community it is instituted. This program sets the foundation of young leaders as being active not passive participants in this program and allows them to work with leadership at all levels of promotion and become the stakeholders themselves in this process. The outcomes should lead to lower recidivism rates for all violators who participate in a rj program, but in this cycle show lower negative contacts with law enforcement for all serviced youth and increased participation in the development of a rj program. This would have the youth as stakeholders go to these entities and serve as co-sponsors of program development and implementation. The outcome is reduced crime, increased trust between our youth and law enforcement, and increased youth participation in crime reduction strategies.

  • 2013 Grants Challenge

    Youth Take Their Lives Off The Streets And Into Gardens

    Today’s youth will bring tomorrow’s environmental change. Los Angeles Communities Advocating for Unity, Social Justice and Action, Inc (LA CAUSA) believes that our youth possess the power to bring systemic change to their environments. Our youth go from the Streets2Gardens. The Streets2Gardens program will be a stepping stone to establishing a community’s ability to become self-sustainable by growing its own food, as well as addressing the issue of the quality of air, through the engagement of disenfranchised youth at elementary schools. The goals of the Streets2Gardens program are two-fold: (1) create a curriculum that is engaging to youth and small children in order to encourage participation in growing gardens and trees to improve the environment of impoverished areas; and (2) get different communities in LA County to support green initiatives to improve their environment though planting gardens and trees. When there is a curriculum that is engaging and relevant to the community, the possibilities are endless. LA CAUSA's youth will create an engaging curriculum for elementary school children in schools the most affected by environmental neglect. LA CAUSA’s youth will also conduct research and determine which elementary schools they wish to approach. The goal is to select two elementary schools in cities, such as Huntington Park, Highland Park, Rosemead and even as far as Pomona. These schools will be in addition to two elementary schools which LA CAUSA has already been working with in Los Angeles: Humphreys Avenue Elementary and Eastman Avenue Elementary School. Once they have selected the schools, then the real fun begins. Alongside the elementary school children, our youth will plant gardens with an array of native Southern California plants, including fruits, vegetables and trees. As part of the program, our youth, with the assistance of experienced staff, will also educate the elementary school children and the surrounding community about the environmental benefits of growing their own food and planting trees. They will treat the soil, plant the seeds and trees, harvest the crop, and educate the elementary school children on how they can do the same at home and help the environment, as well as have healthier food options. The youth will also give workshops to the community about the importance of youth getting involved in environmental issues and share their work at the elementary school gardens. There is power in numbers. There would be about 10 youth involved in this program, broken up into two teams of five and assigned to one of the existing gardens and one of the new gardens. In addition, our youth will host a minimum of two community workshops, bringing different sections of the County together. LA CAUSA’s youth will use their creativity to produce marketing materials, such as brochures and a video of their work, to promote the program and the positive impact of youth involved in environmental issues. The written materials will inform the community of the work being done, why it is being done and who is performing the work, with special thanks to the funder that made it all possible. The video will track the curriculum created and show how any school and family can take their limited resources to grow a garden that can produce healthy food options, as well as address environmental concerns about air quality. Through the Streets2Gardens program, LA CAUSA’s youth will learn necessary life skills that will be transferrable to post-secondary education and employment opportunities. They will be taught to be accountable to their peers and the community by being timely, perform, and work as a team. Therefore, they will receive compensation in the form of stipends to model after a real-life employment situation. If they do not meet the requirements of the program, then their pay will suffer. These necessary life skills will give our youth the ability to establish positive habits that will enhance their level of success in post-secondary education and employment. In educating the elementary school children and the community about the program, our youth will incorporate how life responsibilities affect the outcome of your efforts. For instance, if the garden keepers lack responsibility and fail to timely care for plants and trees, the environment suffers. LA CAUSA believes that through these gardens, some of the most impoverished areas of Los Angeles can become self-sustainable and be better equipped to control their environment. Through the involvement of the program's youth, LA CAUSA seeks to show that when you give youth a sense of purpose, they can be catalysts for change no matter where they come from or what their past looks like. The youth will give back to the community and engage in environmental activism to improve the same area that is currently being destroyed by poverty and environmental neglect.