learn / 2014

IamLA- Inspiring the future generation of Angelenos with a youth-led STEAM Awareness Campaign

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood

Our youth-led IamLA Campaign will inspire Los Angeles youth to study and pursue STEAM related careers.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Our youth-led IamLA Campaign will inspire Los Angeles youth to study and pursue STEAM related careers.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA

What is your idea/project in more detail?

Teen youth leaders will be given the tools needed to lead a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) awareness campaign called IamLA STEAM on the Go! Campaign impacting over 1000 Los Angeles youth. The IamLA Campaign will provide innovative, fun, and engaging hands-on activities at low-performing, Title I elementary and middle schools in East, South, and Central LA during the 2014-2015 school year. To wrap up, a carnival will be held for youth organizations, families, and school officials who are interested in participating during the following school year. The carnival will give youth the opportunity to apply concepts learned and demonstrate the limitless potential of Los Angeles youth.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

For 77 years, BGCH has provided out-of-school educational and enrichment programs for underprivileged students. 9 Dots was founded in 2011 by three engineering alumni from Stanford University with degrees in mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, and computer science and a Ph.D student in UCLA’s Department of Education. 9 Dots provides homework help, math and literacy enrichment, and hands-on STEAM projects after school. BGCH and 9 Dots are both located in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, a high-poverty area where the median income ($33,694) is far lower than the county’s ($56,241) and the state’s ($61,400), and almost a third of adults 25 years or older never finished high school.

BGCH and 9 Dots will collaborate to provide the IamLA “Steam on the Go!” Campaign. Activities include:
1) 20 youth will be identified to become IamLA Youth Leaders and the “STEAM on the Go!” Leadership Team.
2) Develop a creative STEAM curriculum for the IamLA Youth Leaders to present.
3) Train the IamLA Youth Leaders using STEAM training curriculum covering material relevant to the age groups the Youth Leaders will serve (1st-8th grades). Training will incorporate leadership development skills, classroom management skills, and public speaking skills. 4) Build the “STEAM on the Go!” mobile lab (cart with all materials). 5) Create IamLA “STEAM on the Go!” t-shirts. 6) Develop the IamLA-“STEAM on the Go!” resource guide. 7) Develop a website/blog run by the Youth Leaders for the Campaign.

IamLA Youth Leaders will participate in on-site visits with (1) professors and/or professionals in STEAM fields at UCLA, USC, and CSUN; (2) a civil engineer or architect at a construction site; (3) a physician at the Children’s Hospital or at the UCLA or USC hospitals; (4) animation crews at an animation studio to observe how computer science or graphic design components go into the animation of a video game or movie; and (5) professors in Archeology, Physics, or Chemistry, culminating with a visit to the Griffith Park Observatory and the La Brea Tar Pits.

The IamLA Campaign will conclude with a carnival where schools visited will be invited to send a team. Each team will have a booth and will present a STEAM activity/project to those in attendance. A panel of judges made up of city council members, school officials, STEAM professionals, and community partners will determine the winners, basing scores on creativity and audience engagement.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

The IamLA STEAM Campaign will help the Youth Leaders strengthen their leadership skills, public speaking skills, and teamwork skills, while simultaneously empowering them to create positive changes in their community. Educational researchers have found that peer teaching and peer-to-peer collaboration are highly effective. Therefore, due to the youth-led aspect of the IamLA Campaign, the students that the Youth Leaders present to will be excited by STEAM subjects, how these subjects relate to everyday life, and what STEAM could mean to them in their future careers. Furthermore, students served by the IamLA campaign will be inspired and motivated to learn STEAM subjects and engage in discussions with parents and school officials about their futures in STEAM. This project will also build in the community by laying the foundation for developing more partnerships among organizations, youth, and individuals to further promote diversity in STEAM fields. In addition, the accessibility of the website and blog will create a space that will continue to raise awareness of STEAM and develop new ideas for partnerships throughout Los Angeles and beyond.

The Campaign will be a catalyst through which BGCH and 9 Dots youth empower other youth by exposing them to STEAM fields that have traditionally lacked in diversity. The overarching purpose of IamLA is to disprove the idea that STEAM careers are out of reach for disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles.

Whom will your project benefit?

The IamLA STEAM Campaign will primarily benefit Los Angeles youth in grades 1-8 in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a demographic that is predominantly low income and African American or Latino. The campaign will also benefit the community at large by creating more young role models and leaders working to better their communities. We believe that the age group we are targeting with our campaign is most likely to develop an interest in STEAM, as they have many more years of school left to continue developing their interest in and knowledge of STEAM before applying to college. In the long run, we hope to see an increase in diversity in STEAM fields.

One of the goals of our awareness campaign is to instill in our youth the desire to expand their knowledge of STEAM through involvement in programs like BGCH, 9 Dots, and other STEAM programs. Developing an interest in STEAM during their crucial formative years makes it more possible for youth to pursue STEAM fields. When the youth we serve reach high school, they will be more likely to have a deeper understanding of STEAM, making it an accessible option when applying to college and pursuing a career.

Los Angeles is an enormously diverse city, and its youth provide an immeasurable wealth of experiences and perspectives that can shape the future of the city and its residents. We believe that if our youth, who will eventually grow up to become college students and young professionals, play a larger role in STEAM fields, Los Angeles will greatly benefit.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

9 Dots Learning Center is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood to create the IamLA STEAM Campaign. BGCH and 9 Dots have existing partnerships with schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and have previously worked together to share curriculum and provide STEAM professional development workshops. Additional collaborations with local colleges and student organizations from UCLA, USC and CSUN will provide guidance, onsite visits with professors, and real time learning. BGCH has worked with the Office of Admissions from these local colleges and will continue to do so in order to gain access to professors and the hands-on learning experiences we plan to offer our youth leaders.

The factors contributing to our success are:

  1. The identification and training of Youth Leaders from Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood and 9 Dots
  2. Establishing working relationships with the administration at local schools
  3. BGCH’s 75+ years in youth development programs and 9 Dots expertise in STEAM subjects

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?

  • The number of youth who acquire an understanding of the importance of STEAM fields: fields that are largely successful, fast growing, and that will play a large role in the future development of Los Angeles.

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

By exposing youth to fun, engaging, and relatable STEAM activities, it is anticipated that youth will be more likely to further explore STEAM topics. Youth served will understand the relevance of STEAM careers in the 21st century and will also be exposed to the fact that – since the recession – STEAM careers have actually emerged as fast growing and high paying. By providing youth with hands-on STEAM experience, we will foster an early interest in topics that youth are not traditionally exposed to until they reach high school and college. Our awareness campaign will create an avenue for Youth Leaders to truly participate in creating and innovating, which will make the information and activities they present more compelling and relevant.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Success will be demonstrated through the following:

  • 20 Youth Leaders will be trained to make presentations at schools and will gain a greater understanding of the importance of youth-led action toward creating change in their community.
  • The students at the schools will have gained knowledge of STEAM that they did not possess before, as demonstrated through Pre & Post Surveys. Surveys will 1) examine students’ attitudes and knowledge about STEAM and STEAM careers and 2) look at the perceived benefits of the program and areas for improvement. The pre-survey will be administered at the start of the presentation and post-survey at the end of the presentation.
  • The initial 15 schools will request the IamLA Campaign to return to serve more students.
  • 10 new schools will request the IamLA Campaign for their campuses.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

The IamLA Campaign was created to help underserved and underrepresented youth develop essential STEAM skills and to address the severe underrepresentation of minority professionals, particularly Latino and African American professionals, in these fields. According to the US Department of Commerce, science, technology, engineering, and math jobs are projected to grow almost twice as fast as those in other classifications over the next few years. Moreover, these jobs pay significantly more – 26% more – than their counterparts. Despite making up one-fourth of the workforce in 2009, only 2% of Latino workers and 3% of African American workers held jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

By combining the 77 years of experience BGCH has and the creative and innovative STEAM curriculum that 9 Dots has created and implemented over the past 3 years, the IamLA Campaign will successfully take its message to 15 schools. Both organizations have a wide range of potential youth leaders for the campaign. The existing partnerships and contracts with LAUSD schools will make it easier for us to establish connections and partnerships with the 15 schools where we plan to conduct outreach.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Coordinating the presentations at the schools and obtaining permission for students to leave their classrooms can be very difficult because public schools have a finite number of hours designated for class time. However, our long-standing relationships with our schools will aid in our ability to overcome any obstacles. If we approach the school administrators far enough in advance, we believe we will be able to work it into their schedule.

Funding is always a challenge; however, the BGCH and 9 Dots have a strong fundraising strategy in place and have continued to meet their budgetary demands for new and existing programs.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)