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connect / 2014


Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Youth Speak Collective

We will share the stories of 50 youth across LA to help turn their ideas in action!

Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

We will share the stories of 50 youth across LA to help turn their ideas in action!

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

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

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

We want to present the voices of our future leaders. By 2050, the youth of today will be the generation that inherits Los Angeles. One of them may even be the mayor in 2050. So why are we not listening to them?

We plan to film 50 young people across LA and develop 50 solution stories. These short films will be shown in nontraditional and traditional settings in communities throughout Los Angeles. These stories will inspire others to follow their passion and be the difference they want to see in their community. Viewers of these short films can learn from these stories and in turn new partnerships will form because of this candid and powerful form of sharing solutions.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

We plan to work with our team of students and mentors to film these stories across Los Angeles. We have broken up the yearlong project into four stages, outlined below.

Story Outreach (2 months) • Brainstorm with team, mentors and partners. • Create outreach strategy and implement outreach campaign and story website to collect stories across Los Angeles. • Create criteria for story selection and clear format for filming, editing and the interview process. • Visit elected offices, neighborhood councils, nonprofits and community centers to present on our mission and vision to document inspiring stories from our young people. • Select 50 individuals evenly spread out across the five main regions of Los Angeles (South LA, East LA, Central LA, West Side and Valley)

Filming (6 months) • Arrange film times with the young people to be interviewed. • Partner with local nonprofits to schedule interview locations. • Film stories

Editing (2 months) • Edit all footage • Meet with interviewees again if necessary • Complete all 50 two minute films

Community Outreach (2 months) • Arrange film screenings as conversations in local community locations. • Arrange larger film screening in an open location (like Grand Park) in Central Los Angeles. • Film screenings would allow youth and participants the opportunity to speak up after each film screening. We plan for break out conversations around the topics the stories evoke.

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

It is our belief that young people have a need to give input and speak up. In the last years we have seen this in the students we work with and the staff on our team. When given the opportunity, they have the drive and ability to surprise us with amazing ideas. Through genuine listening and authentic conversation we can tap into the fresh outlook and wisdom of youth in our currently estranged communities. The guidance and mentorship of invested, caring adults can help transform Los Angeles into a socially connected, civically active community.

The program enables students to share a powerful story, an example of how they plan to be the change they see in their community. Young people will be able share how they give back and inspire others to step up in volunteer roles in their community, schools and city. Sharing stories among the community, residents create the type of human connections that play an important role in civic engagement, emotional intelligence and self-confidence we need to succeed and create a more connected LA.

Our project will create a more engaged generation across Los Angeles and develop a line of stories that bind our experiences and commitment to give back. Once we present the stories in the communities they were born, the stories will be connected to others and potential partnerships will form.

By the simple act of documenting stories and listening to each other we also see our project impacting our society at 2050. These films will remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people and creating a culture of understanding in our higher risk communities in Los Angeles.

Every movement of change needs a spark. These videos will create the spark. The film screenings will fan this energy and create conversations between people that will spread and continue for years. In the long run impacting the individual telling the story and the people who heard their story.

Each story will answer the questions: What legacy do they want to leave in their community? How do they see LA in 2050 if we all volunteered our time? How do they currently make an impact in their community? These videos could be the first step towards creating the impact that we need to transform our community.

Whom will your project benefit?

Our project will benefit a variety of groups. First, the individual. The person who tells the story will be valued and listened to. Their story and ideas will be viewed by thousands. Through this message their own experiences will be honored and they will be empowered to continue their efforts in the community. These short videos will give young students a platform not only to find their voice, but to let that voice be heard across LA. By sharing their story, these students will become more confident in themselves, more empathetic towards their peers, and more committed to their community. These students will inspire others by the simple act of telling their story and sharing their solution ideas for an issue in their community.

Second, the individuals who hear the story will be engaged with the message and will be encouraged to find a way to partner with the storyteller. Through our film screening sessions we hope to inspire new partnerships and collaborative efforts through these stories and films.

Our Youth Speak Media Solutions team of students and mentors will also benefit from this project as they will experience the stories first hand during the time of production. Our team of students also become inspired to give back to their communities after capturing such powerful stories and witnessing the positive work organizations are doing across Los Angeles.

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

We would love to partner with you! As a nonprofit we have worked with groups across Los Angeles, and we would love to hear from new young people and groups making an impact in LA.

Currently we plan to work with and actively collaborate with the following nonprofit and business partners: Youth Justice Coalition, The Hub LA, New Leaders Council, Proyecto Pastoral, Boys and Girls Club of Venice, and Unusual Suspects Theatre Company. We plan to reach out to other established and grassroots organizations throughout Los Angeles in our target communities once the campaign is funded.

We hope to partner also with various marketing firms, public relation organizations and media outlets to communicate these stories to as broad of an audience as possible. Some of which include, MTA that could showcase these short films in bus routes across Los Angeles. We currently have media partnerships with LATV, CNN, NBC, Junker Wagner Marketing, Media Image Public Relations and AK Design Strategies.

Once funded we will also partner with civic leaders in our target communities along with local neighborhood councils and the elected council members in that district. We know that by partnering with elected leaders in local, city and state levels we can create conversations both at the community and policy levels to really affect change and give an avenue for the students solutions and voice.

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

  • Rates of volunteerism
  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Participation in neighborhood councils
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
  • Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

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

Our project has both an immediate and long-term impact in Los Angeles. The 50 individuals initially involved in the program will feel an immediate social connectedness to each other and their community.

The 50 films that are developed through the power of social media and community film screenings can have an impact that we estimate to hit 100,000 people. This inter-generational relationship building will make a powerful impact across generations. The young people sharing their stories will empower professionals to connect themselves to local nonprofits, become civically active and volunteer with community groups. The students through the filming and screening process will find adult allies that actually listen and care about what they have to say and contribute. To give voice is to give a stake in the public discourse, and that is what our project with Youth Speak Media Solutions intends to do.

The participants in the film screenings and discussion will be inspired to volunteer more or become more involved in local government. As young stakeholders, students will become more civic-minded, attend more volunteer events and be motivated to simply vote in order to get their voice heard. With involvement of many community partners throughout the process, we are breathing new life into a city where citizen’s care and neighbors talk to each other.

The students we interview are the individuals that others follow. If they set a good example and affect change in their social spheres, a domino effect of social awareness, civic engagement, and increased volunteerism among Los Angelenos city-wide is possible.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Outcome #1: The majority of students involved in the filming of their stories will have reported increased self-awareness and social awareness. These young people (ages 16-24) will have expressed greater ambition and motivation to succeed, specifically in their community in the City of Los Angeles.

Outcome #2: Eighty percent of participants in the community screening should feel a desire to be more civic-minded. Through the viewing of these impact stories, participants will be engaged and inspired through the films and facilitated conversation after film screenings.

Outcome #3: In the course of the year following the creation of the films and screenings, the community that was specifically engaged (example: Boyle Heights, not entire East Los Angeles) will see a 20% increase in civic engagement. This will be measured by voting rates at neighborhood council elections, participants in major volunteer events in community and intern/volunteer rates at local nonprofits.

Outcome #4: A coalition of individuals and nonprofits across Los Angeles would be created to tackle some of the issues that have been heard through the videos. This network would start to meet on a regular basis soon after the screenings.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

The first lesson we have learned in the process of becoming a youth-driven nonprofit, is to listen. This has been an acquired skill that we continue to grow in as staff and mentors to the students in our programs. As adults we can easily dismiss the youth in our community, but we have learned to listen and take their ideas and help put them into action. Many of our programs are an example of the youth speaking up about issues in their community and creating a solution that is supporting by civic leaders.

The second lesson we have learned is about the power of media and the way in which today’s youth utilize it. Young people today incorporate media into their lives in almost a minute to minute basis. It is immediately accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is the medium in which our youth of today inform one another and themselves. Media, movies and phones have taken over our modes of communication and we have learned to utilize the strengths of our students and staff.

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

We believe we have laid out achievable goals. We have a team of 20 students and 5 mentors that can juggle an average of 6 jobs a week that would allow us to engage 50 individuals within the time allowed. We have learned as creative professionals to be organized with our work load, having priorities each week and setting benchmarks for our progress.

As a program of the nonprofit, Youth Speak Collective we have an additional team of staff, boardmembers and advisory council members that will assist in our planning, outreach and development of our program goals.

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

We anticipate two main challenges within this proposal. The first is the amount of individuals that we will be working with and the scheduling of time and the details that this will encompass. With so many stories to tell we will be working with our students schedules, our mentors work schedules and the individual’s schedules. We plan to allocate a portion of the funding to be able to hire and designate one point person for this project. In film terms this would be our Producer. Our strategy for making a smoother storytelling and editing process we plan on having one specific person do the communication with the young people telling their stories.

The second challenge that we foresee is related to the concise telling of stories. In order to make an effective film that people would watch online we believe that all stories should be under two minutes each. In order to do this more effectively we plan to reach out to our public relations and marketing partners who can work with us pro bono to assist in some branding and outreach techniques to help people tell their story more efficiently and really explain their solution in a manner that makes an impact.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach