Income & Employment / 2013
THE i.am.angel EAST L.A. INCUBATOR PROJECT
We want to build a startup incubator program in East LA to foster entrepreneurship in underserved communities that have low access to technology and startup resources. ****** Los Angeles has been ranked the #3 startup city in the world, behind San Francisco and Tel Aviv! However, the LA tech ecosystem is concentrated in more affluent areas such as Santa Monica, Venice and West Hollywood. Meanwhile, East LA is an area with a rich history of makers and creators, and with just as much entrepreneurial spirit. Yet it lacks the resources needed to tap into the local tech startup scene. ****** By bringing this startup incubator program to East LA, we are fostering local talent and providing top-notch education and mentorship from successful entrepreneurs. This will bring valuable jobs and job skills to underserved communities. Not only does this help to uplift a struggling neighborhood, but it creates a better overall startup ecosystem for the entire city of Los Angeles – by creating a larger pool of talent coming from diverse backgrounds and walks of life. ****** Our startup incubator program will provide the following to East LA communities: ****** EDUCATION: Provide classes in entrepreneurship (such as how to formulate a business plan, how to pitch a VC, how to use social media, legal and accounting seminars etc) and relevant tech skills such as coding, web development, UX design, graphic design and more. ****** MENTORSHIP: Provide a forum for mentorship between local aspiring entrepreneurs and experienced business experts. Our team is well-connected to the LA tech, entertainment, and investment communities, which will provide an endless source of mentorship. ****** PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING: We hope to create a network of skilled professionals who are capable of joining or creating jobs in tech and startups. We will provide a platform for networking with each other, and with tech companies and startups from all over LA. ****** WORK SPACE: Provide coworking/office space at low cost to locally-focused startups. Our facility will be the historic Casa Del Mexicano building in Boyle Heights, East LA. The i.am.angel Foundation is currently renovating the building to turn it into a state-of-the-art community center, which will also house other programs in STEM and Arts education. It will be a perfect space for the cross-pollination of ideas that leads to innovation! ****** CAPITAL: Provide seed funding for startups that fit certain criteria, such as startups that are focused locally on the East LA community, or startups that promote social good. By the end of 2013, we hope to identify and support 5 local startups in East LA with $10,000 each in seed funding.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
The i.am.angel Foundation seeks to transform lives through education, opportunity and inspiration. We have spearheaded several programs that are transforming lives in East LA, particularly the Boyle Heights community. Here are our biggest and most successful programs: ** i.am College Track ** College Track is a national educational organization that empowers students from underserved communities to reach their dreams of a college degree. College Track actively engages students over the course of eight years, from the summer before high school through college graduation. 100% of College Track seniors graduate from high school, more than 90% are admitted to a four-year university, and 75% of College Track students are currently enrolled, or have graduated from, college. Over 85% of College Track students will be the first person in their family to earn a college degree. The i.am College Track program serves 50 ambitious new students from Roosevelt High School every year, and continues to work with them over an 8 year cycle. ** i.am Home ** In 2010, during the height of the foreclosure crisis, the i.am Home program was launched. The program works with effective partner organizations to promote financial literacy education and provide home owner assistance grants to support qualifying families in need. To date i.am Home has provided more than $400,000 in home owner assistance grants. ** i.am Scholarship ** The i.am Scholarship program was launched in 2009. The program works with effective partner organizations like Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network, Scholastic America and College Track to identify qualifying students in need of financial support. i.am angel selects students with a proven record of accomplishment and gives them the opportunity to chase their dreams through scholarship. To date the i.am Scholarship program has directly invested more than $500,000 in America’s future.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
We will work with an education partner such as General Assembly L.A. (https://generalassemb.ly/locations/los-angeles), which provides a network of qualified instructors in entrepreneurship and tech skills. The i.am.angel Foundation will make sure the classes will be affordable for the East LA communities. We also work closely with ELACC, the East LA Community Corporation (http://www.elacc.org/), who are our partners at the Casa Del Mexicano. They will also provide valuable outreach to the East LA community.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
- We will look closely at attendance of the program’s classes and events. We will survey participants of their experience, aiming for value, diversity and cross-pollination. 2. We will track success stories and chronicle them in our website and other social media platforms. We will write blogs and produce video content. 3. We will monitor socioeconomic effects on the community, looking at factors such as the creation of local businesses and jobs. 4. We will evaluate the performance of the 5 local startups chosen to receive seed funding from this program.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
An East LA incubator project will benefit ALL of Los Angeles, not just the east side. Here’s WHY:
Our incubator program creates a better overall startup ecosystem for the entire city of Los Angeles, by creating a LARGER and more DIVERSE pool of entrepreneurial talent. The future needs solutions that involve EVERYONE.
Our incubator program will foster entrepreneurship in struggling communities that are often burdened with crime, violence, and unemployment. By providing education and opportunity, we will enable people to start successful legitimate businesses, or gain the high-demand and high-paying skills needed to work in tech, rather than doing illegal things.
This has a halo effect on so many other factors. Not only could it boost the local economy, creating jobs for local young people, but they will also be more likely to stay in the neighborhoods and continue to improve them. It could reduce crime and violence, and increase safety in these struggling neighborhoods and surrounding areas. The East LA incubator program can serve as a model for other similar communities around the world.
- Our incubator program will give seed funding, supporting the creation of startups that provide value to the local community, especially those focusing on social good. Our project could be funding the future hottest LA startups promoting arts & cultural vitality, education, environmental quality, health, housing, income & employment, public safety, and social connectedness.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
In the year 2050, the LA tech and startup communities will look a lot more like LA itself: culturally diverse, rich in differing talent, opinions, backgrounds, and walks of life. LA will be a true breeding ground for innovation. There will also be greater focus on companies that produce sustainable and social good. LA will also be home to stronger communities with vibrant local economies that match the unique culture of each. Our vision is that the i.am.angel incubator model will have hubs in various communities all over Los Angeles.